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Browsing Posts published on August 8, 2006

Days 6-7: Stomping grounds

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Over Sunday and Monday, I didn’t do too much of note, although I did make some progress on my business work. On Sunday, I spent most of my day out at LaLaPort, the super huge mall in Chiba. There’s a Toys R Us and an Akachan Honpo there, so I was able to do some work while going back to a somewhat familiar place. There is a Shakey’s pizza buffet there, but it was a Sunday lunchtime, so it was packed. I didn’t feel like spending 2 hours to wait to gorge myself on pizza alone, so I ate elsewhere. LaLa Port is such a huge mall, even bigger than some in the US, I think, but it is mostly clothes shops where you can buy t-shirts that cost 6000 yen. That’s right, $60.

Monday, I headed out to Makuhari. Things really don’t seem too different there from last summer, except for 1 new building or complex that you can see right after exiting Kaihim station. It was kind of weird, since I walked past the bus queue and didn’t even notice it, then looked to my right and thought to myself “did that just pop out of no where?” Chances are it didn’t, but it is Japan, so maybe it appeared out of the ground to launch a robot or something. I was planning on going to Carrefour and Plena to investigate their baby product selections, but instead went to the IES Center around 4. I ended up staying there until almost 6:30, so there wasn’t much investigation done for that part of the afternoon. Got to catch up with the now-assistant director Shin-san, who is awesome as ever but he now has some fashionable glasses. He also moved from his little office in the front of the center to the “main” office area in the back, so at least he has a window now. Although it is a view of an alley, it’s still natural sunlight I guess. He introduced me to the new Director, Marik-san, and was like “he was here over a year ago, but it doesn’t seem like it.” I didn’t think about it much before, but it has been an entire year and I feel like I was only gone for a few weeks. I guess I’m just that well adapted/desensitized to being in Japan. Oh ya, and the new director is a pretty cool guy. He apparently was one of the guys who started United Nations University, and has been in Japan for over 30 years, so you could say that he’s more than qualified to run IES Tokyo.

Went to Y’s afterwards, Shin came to hang out for a bit then had to go for a meeting. Yoko and Tomomi came, and we stayed until close. I missed Y’s so much. Pretty much the same as usual, although I think the food selection actually improved a bit, since they had sashimi, rice (not fancy, but they were missing it before), and those BBQ riiiiiiiiibs. Also a snow-cone machine for the summer. Was given a Nikka and chocolate snow cone, which actually isn’t as bad as you would think. Matsushita-san was awesome as always, and gave us the usual counter even though we didn’t have that many people. I really think Y’s might be the greatest place in the whole country; we have to get a complete A-Team reunion there sometime soon.

I’ll likely come back to Makuhari once or twice more this trip. I’m kind of glad now that my AEON placement is out in Ichihara, because while it’s an hour/an hour and a half away from Tokyo, it’s only 30 minutes from Makuhari. Honestly, I think I might like Makuhari more than Tokyo on the whole. It’s not as big and doesn’t have as much variety or weird stuff, but just for hanging out and everyday things, the place is perfect. Carrefour has everything you need, you can hang out at Y’s and Hana no Mae, and if you want to work out, eat Indian food, and study 1000 kanji a day, then the World Business Garden is right there. Haha.

Two points that don’t really fit with the rest of this entry. Instead of writing a transition to make the flow of ideas smooth, I will just bust into them straight forward:

By 2011, all Japanese TVs will be digital. They will have to be, or it won’t work with broadcast TV. Since all broadcast signals will be digital, everyone has to have a digital or high-vision (HD) TV by then if they want to watch TV and stuff. Although it sounds like a sweet idea, I guess it kind of sucks for old people who just want to watch the news, or people who don’t really want to buy a fancy new TV. But hey it’s Japan.

Shin-san said that there is a popular TV drama show (the most popular one at the moment) called Supli (サプリ) starring Misaki Ito that tapes all of the office scenes in the IES building (Sumitomo Chemical Engineering Bldg) in Makuhari, on the 16th floor or something. Every Thursday through Sunday they’re up there taping. If I happen to be in the area, I’ll see if I can sneak a peak at anything. Shin-san says he saw Misaki Ito at the Sunkus downstairs, which is awesome because she is absolutely super mega hot. He also saw them taping the Kamen Rider Kabuto stuff around there, which is awesome also.

Maids and Ero Oyaji

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Further investigation was warranted on this whole crazy maid thing, and not just because I went to Akihabara again on my way back from that side of the Yamanote the other day.

I still don’t think I want to go into a maid cafe, but right outside of JR Akihabara station, there were plenty of maids handing out flyers and stuff. One such flyer was actually for some service where you can “Go on a date with a maid,” and she’ll follow you around and go to restaurants, arcades, and the other places in Akihabara that the nerds love so much. Not prostitution, I guess, since at least according to the flyer, those kinds of services aren’t included. But it is Japan, so I’ll bet there’s something even more shady about it. The cost was like 6000 yen for an hour, so for a buck a minute, only the rich and super-pathetic nerds can afford it.

Back to my observations outside the station. I was there around 7:30PM, and hanged around the outside of the station for about 15 minutes. During that timespan, I saw the following:

  • 6 maids “working” handing out flyers.
  • 4 maid cosplayers, i.e. dressed up just for fun.
  • 1 person dressed as a cat. I couldn’t tell if it was a male or female.
  • 1 wannabe idol singer, trying to peddle her CD by shaking her ass.
  • 1 old man sweeping the street (more on him later)

diagram

eroThe old guy I was talking about was the resident floor-sweeper I guess, maybe a groundskeeper. There is also a possibility that he was a homeless guy who just likes to sweep. Either way, he was wearing a sweat towel and a Moe~ (萌え) shirt that also said “Akiba in Japan.” After sweeping once, he took a break and went over to the little kiosk near the station and bought a flask of whiskey. While drinking his whiskey, he went over to talk to some chicks, who surprisingly didn’t run away and instead talked to him for a few minutes.

That was pretty much the end of my short investigation into Akihabara again. I don’t understand it really, and will likely never try.

Please also note that it seemed like the average age of the maids was like 15.

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