Last piece on Japan for a while, I promise. This one’s just a collection of stuff that wouldn’t fit neatly into a coherent, themed post.
Electricity cables in the UK were undergrounded (yes that is a verb) a while ago, but in Japan they’re still all out in the open on top of poles. An awful lot of them.
Most of the cars I saw in Japan were this snub-nosed, compact and boxy type. The engine mut be pretty small.
One of the large chains of booksellers in Japan is called “Book Off”, which doesn’t make it sound particularly welcoming. But this time I found out that they also sell secondhand hardware in a sister chain called “Hard Off”, which sounds even less family-friendly.
This place, on the other hand, has the perfect name:
At most shinto shrines you can write a wish on a wooden card and hang it up on a rack.
A snack store in Harajuku pre-empted my own reaction to the description of its wares.
Many of the clothes stores in Harajuku specialise in the Goth/Lolita/Alice In Wonderland fashion sub-culture, although this place seems to cater to even more obscure splinterings. “Qutie Frash”? Or maybe that’s the name of the brand? I didn’t go inside the check.
Cat cafés. They’re a thing outside of Japan too now, and even Brussels has one. We visited one that specialised in Bengal cats and featured a faux jungle decor to complete the vibe.
Another café in Kobe even offered an unique real/virtual cat combination.
Other animals are available. We also saw ads for otter cafés, although a lot of these placed feature obviously doped animals, charge extortionate entrance fees and don’t even offer much in the way of coffee.
Idiosyncratic use of English is another Japanese cliché, but this one in particular caught my eye. No way you’d get away with a magazine title like that in an English-speaking market.
Finally, two videos. One of the famously busy pedestrian crosssing in Shibuya. I crossed it a few times and there was always a large number of people (including myself obviously) filming or photographing as they crossed. Some of them even stop to sit on the floor to get a selfie of the crowds swirling around them.
And on one occasion there was a very un-Japanese commotion as a car attempted to drive through the crowd at speed, right past me, honking its horn repeatedly. As it passed I noticed the guy in the passenger seat reclined, covered with a coat and with his eyes closed, which led me to the assumption that he was injured and his friend the driver was taking him to a hospital. Police gave chase on foot, and I think they managed to get it to stop just after the crossing but I never saw the conclusion so I don’t know if they arrested them or let them continue on their way once they’d established what was happening.
And here’s a minute of Japanese cityscape scrolling past a train window. I don’t know about you but I could watch this kind of thing all day.