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Browsing Posts published on October 19, 2004

This penguin is the future

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The Suica card, which looks like this: , is definitely a possible sign of the future. Basically, it’s a chargeable train pass/debit card. You can use it on the JR trains, and now you can use it in store to purchase stuff like a debit card. The nice thing about it is, instead of swiping and signing like a credit card, you just press it up against the reader, and you’re good to go. Takes literally 2 seconds. Maybe 1 if you’re a ninja. Most people keep it in a wallet or “pass case” with a little window on it. They just press their wallet/case on the suica panel and they’re good to go. Now, if you lose your card you’re screwed, but worrying about this stuff isn’t the point of progress.

This thing might actually turn Japan into a cashless society. Credit cards and checks couldn’t do that here. People literally still carry huge wads of cash with them. A lot of companies still give their employees their wages via big envelopes of cash.

I like Suica (the word also means watermelon, although I don’t know why their main mascot is a penguin). There’s also a campaign going on right now where you use your Suica at convenience stores to buy stuff, and you get a sticker. Collect 3 stickers, and you can send in to win stuff like a penguin pillow or a coffee mug. Here’s the link, if you want to see it for yourself. I found one of the conbini that just had the box of stickers sitting out, so of course I stole a handful. I’m going to send a bunch of postcards in and hopefully win something.

My life: garbage, anime, typhoons

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I’m always saying how random and strange life in Japan is for me, and I think today was the perfect example of this. Bear with me, as I walk through my day…

Woke up, had breakfast here at the dorm. Breakfast was a potato and green bean stew, followed by toast with chocolate sauce on it. Then I got ready to head out to school. Today, instead of class, my Jissen Nihongo (Japanese) class went on a field trip of sorts. And that trip was to the Chiba Clean Energy factory, a type of trash and recycle dump. It took a train, a bus, and a 15 minute talk in the rain to get there. Once there, a tour was led by an animated character in blue named Noa. Yes, there was a video to introduce us to the place, and in various spots in the factory you press a button and watch another video or hologram with Noa. Oh what fun, just like if I were in 1st grade in the year 2040.

On the way back from the garbage center, I stopped by Tsutaya to drop off the DVDs I rented last night (the making of the Masked Rider Blade movie, and a Kishidan DVD). I also stopped by Vive de France, a bakery, and had lunch. Lunch today was a cold hotdog with cheese and mayonnaise on it (didn’t know about the mayo til it was too late), and a calzone. Not great, not bad.

After that fun, had my one other class, which was Anime. I found out that Professor Aoyagi is apparently more famous than he leads on, and there was some point in the 90’s when he was a sort of “expert” on Japanese idols (the young girls who are everywhere, usually wearing almost nothing). As an expert on the subject, doing “research” on these young girls (sounds like Jiraiya), he was featured on TV shows and in magazines. He showed us slides as proof. Pretty interesting. Also during class I was filling out postcard contest entries so I can win a Suica Penguin pillow. More on that in a future entry.

After that, went to MotoYawata to pick up my alien registration card. I now have an official Japanese form of ID! Nice! After that, on my way to the station, ate a tai-yaki (a fish shaped waffle filled with red beans). The old lady who worked the stand kicked her husband, who was apparently sleeping on the ground, when she had to move to get to the taiyaki. Yeah kind of weird, some old man laying on the ground inside their stand.

After that, had coffee with Super Sayokon near Funabashi station. That place is a lot bigger than I expected, although I’m pretty sure I’d been to that station a few times when I first came to Japan in high school. They also have a koban (police box) that looked like a giant white pill bottle.

Now I’m home, it’s really cold outside, and apparently we are looking at another typhoon coming tonight. Man I hope it comes and cancels the train lines tomorrow, cause I really don’t want to go teach at Takanawadai High school. And I now realize that today wasn’t as weird as it seemed as I was going through it. Ah well, I’m going to post it anyway.

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