Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The rain and sickness. (Bonus stage)
School has been dominating my life recently. Of course it's to be expected, but it's a tad depressing because I don't get to do any exploring. My spare time is spent at home and it's far from exciting. I also went to bed with an itch in my throat and I woke up feeling sick. This isn't really a surprise, considering almost everyone at the dorms has been sick for some amount of time in the last few weeks. I'm only concerned that I get better by Friday, as I don't want to miss those classes again and I have a big weekend coming up.
On the way to and from school I kept seeing this poster around town.
Maybe it's just me, but I think it looks very much like a North Korean or old Chinese propaganda poster.
Anyways, back to my point.
Last weekend weekend was kind of a bizarre few days. For starters I thought there was a party on Friday night, but it was on Saturday. I found this on the way to the meeting point, which was a tad annoying to say the least. Looking back at the info, I was told a week before that it was on Saturday, but I got an email on Thursday night and Friday morning, so I just assumed it was on Friday night.
Well, I was already on my way out of the house and I decided to check out Shinagawa anyways, party or not.
I pass by Shinagawa station every day on the train. I knew a lot of people get off at it, but I didn't exactly know what's there. Turns out it is quite a large train station.
If you want to catch a Shinkansen (bullet train), this is one of the places to do it. It had a very American train station feel, with it's enormously high roof, large hallways, and just general size.
It seems I wasn't the only one to think this. They were trying real hard to be very New York-ish.
There were bagel shops, ample signs celebrating Shinagawa's relationship with New York, and some gift shops and grocery stores selling very American items. I got a bag of salt and vinegar chips. They were great.
So, I went outside the station to see the surrounding neighborhood. It's really not much to speak of. There are a lot of office buildings and a lot of restaurants which are no doubt here to serve the employees of these office buildings. I did see one building that caught my eye.
Is that the Sony headquarters? I couldn't tell, so I went walking towards it's general direction. It sure was big enough to be a headquarters.
I didn't get any good pictures because it was night and pretty damned dark out. I was feeling pretty smug thinking that I found the world Sony headquarters, but then I saw another building off in the distance that was about equal size and had a similar sized Sony sign. Damn.
Well, maybe it's one of the world headquarters buildings and unlike American institutions, they don't have JUST one building. Well, either way, there were other things in Shinagawa to see. Barely.
On the other side of the train station, there was this nice quaint shopping area and a really ritzy (if not a little old) hotel.
I went walking and I found the Epson aquarium.
If I kept going that way, it leads straight to the main entrance for the aquarium. I wasn't in the mood to go, especially not by myself, so I headed home.
Bored on a Friday night, I was hanging out with a friend in the dorm. On the way home, I noticed that McDonald's re-released the MEGA MAC!
The Mega Mac is essentially 2 big macs in one. I don't understand how a health-conscious (or at least weight conscious) country like Japan could have such a product available and it would actually sell.
I'm not here to question the economics of Japanese fast food companies (at least not today), so I decided to give the beast a try.
I don't know why there was a huge splotch of sauce on the top, but it kind of added to the effect.
Here's a shot with a normal business card for reference.
Sure, it's not THAT big, but it was pretty tall. I had to squeeze it down to fit all of it in.
It was pretty, um, special. It wasn't the biggest or greasiest burger I've ever eaten, but it was certainly an oddity.
The party on Saturday came and went. It was actually pretty fun. I met some fun new people and I hope I made a friend or two. I'm glad I went, but I don't really have any pictures that I want to share.
It was a very international affair. There were people from Japan (obviously), Australia, America (other than me), and Spain. It was quite interesting. There were enough people that spoke English well enough for me to have a good time. I was feeling pretty good when I got home on Saturday night.
Then Sunday morning/afternoon was a bit of a disappointment. It was my intention to go exploring and visit this neighborhood I'd never been to before, but that got derailed by rain. I'm not really keen on going out in the rain by myself. One or the other is okay, but I just wasn't feeling it.
So, I contacted a friend who was heading to Harajuku, and we hung out there. Again, it was a bit of a disappointment. All the tourists were out in Harajuku, but all the fun people weren't. The rockers I saw last week and the normal Harajuku people were gone. Not that I can blame them, of course, but it was kind of a let down.
There were a LOT of people lining up for something.
To the best I could figure, there was a boy band concert going on in the arena nearby. I kind of wanted to explore the area around the arena, but there were a lot of people and even more dangerous/annoying, lots of umbrellas.
My friend went to get a haircut/redye and I went wandering. I found some really interesting stuff in the back alleys of Harajuku.
I thought the shop "I Love Boo" was really cute. It's a kid's store, and looked very interesting and fun.
I also found some completely random bare wires sticking up.
There are a lot of these in this town, I just don't take that many pictures. I also found it interesting how they advertise on telephone/power line poles.
So, me and my friend were on our way home and I bumped into 2 people who also live at the dorms, one of which I'd consider a good friend. It seems someone was having a bad day for reasons I didn't know, nor did I really care to find out, as it wasn't my business. However, I was happy to help cheer her up, and the method in question was Purikura.
Those who don't know what Purikura is, it's this little picture booth that you go in, it takes your picture and then you draw on it and it prints those pictures out. It's super popular with high schools, and apparently the place I went into, men weren't allowed without a girl accompanying them.
I'd done Purikura before, and to be honest, it was fun, but wasn't THAT great. This time was a bit different. We went to two different machines. One was a crazy series of pictures that happened super fast. It was more like a game than pictures. If anyone's played Wario Ware, it was quite similar. An outline of what the background/foreground would look like popped up, and then we had to rush to pose. There were also 2 cameras, so we had to prepare for that.
The second one had a ladder on the wall and ceiling, so poses were a lot more interesting.
It also had the cutest disclaimer I'd seen in a long time.
Right across the alley from the purikura place was this CRAZY little shop that was coated with musical memorabilia, mostly from the heavy rock, very visually dramatic bands. It was quite interesting.
So, Saturday ended on a pretty positive note, despite the fact that it was still an icky, rainy day.
Edit: I acquired some pictures of the previously mentioned memorabilia shop. I didn't take these pictures, and if the person who took them wants credit, please say so in the comments.
As you can see the place is COATED with stuff.
These are all pictures of people. Mostly headshots, I'm pretty sure they're all unofficial. There are layers of these pictures too. Behind each row of pictures is another one or two more.
Stickers, headshots, commemorative necklaces, guitar picks, keychains, buttons, etc.
Wristbands, posters, more keychains, PUSHPINS?!?
This place was not very big, but it sure had a lot of crap. To the left, you can see necklaces that are copies of what famous singers wear. It was a pretty bizarre shop.
Also, for those of you concerned/interested, I'm now feeling much better. I'd say I'm about 90% back to normal, and I think after a good night's sleep, I'll be ready for another non-stop excitement weekend. I didn't go to the show I wanted to see on Thursday and tonight (Friday) is going to be an evening of cleaning and quietly relaxing, but I've got a big weekend planned and I'd rather have a boring