Sunday, March 30, 2014
A large portion of the deliveries in Japan are done via scooter and while many objects can safely jolted around by the bumps in the road, for more delicate deliveries, an apparatus like this is used. The item is hung from the spring mechanism on top and as the scooter goes down the road, the item is gently kept steady by the springs.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Though I had previously only seen one Chrysler in all my time in Japan, it turns out there is a dealership right in my town. I decided to walk through the automotive district where most of the dealerships are and I stumbled across this one that sells several American brands. If not for the Japanese writing sprinkled around the complex I could have imagined this was just another dealership in the US. It was especially interesting seeing many ostensibly American cars with right-hand drive.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Often Japanese coffee drinks are offered hot or cold. Most convenience stores have a section for each, usually with more variety in the cold section. Today I saw for first time, hot and cold drinks offered in the same case. At first I couldn't believe this would work, but sure enough, the cans on the top were warm and the cans on the bottom were cold. I can't imagine this is very efficient or even necessary considering this store had other cold drink spaces, but it certainly is interesting.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Fans of Japanese culture in the US are often interested in Ramune, a curiously flavored soft drink known for it's unique bottle design. The drink and it's bottle design were created by an English man for the Japanese market in 1884. The name is actually a Japanization of the word "lemonade." While I've seen some Ramune in the traditional glass bottle, most often I see it in cans featuring a picture of the bottle. In the US, Ramune is all about the novelty, but in Japan I would imagine many people just like the taste and don't want to bother with glass bottles.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Bread in Japan is interesting for a number of reasons:
Bread almost always comes in cubes with the number of slices being determined by how the bread is divided. The brand of bread pictured above comes in 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 slice varieties and they all come from the same sized loaf. I have yet to encounter a long loaf of bread like the ones typically seen in the US.
Loaves of bread rarely come with the butts included. Loaves that do are usually considered specialty breads.
Several brands offer bread where the crust exists, but is not darker than the rest of the bread. The bread pictured above is an example.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Walking home from school the other day I happened to see a car that's very near and dear to me. My first cars was a blue 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air. The Impala and the Bel Air were really just different trim levels of the same car. I hadn't seen another Bel Air since I sold mine several years ago and I definitely didn't expect to see one in Japan.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Something that I practically see every day, but didn't think to write a post about until now are the bagging stations at all of the grocery stores I've visited in Japan. While bagging your own groceries is not something unique to Japan, the way it's done here is slightly different and consistent between store chains.
Grocery stores rarely have carts so you typically use baskets. When the cashier rings up your items, they get transferred from your basket to an empty basket. Your basket will then be used for the next customer. The cashier then estimates how many bags you will need and places that number in your new basket. Once you have completed your transaction you take your basket to the bagging station. The bags can be very difficult to open so the stations have sponges attached to hand pumps that moisten the sponge when pressed down. Using this, you wet your fingers slightly to make opening the bags much easier. When I first saw the sponge machines when I arrived in Japan I was extremely confused, but now I use them without the slightest thought.
I've grown accustomed to many little things like this so it will be interesting to see what it feels like to return to America.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Small developers who could enter for free received a small table to promote their game while larger sponsors received large amounts of space along the walls of the room. The atmosphere was rather casual and the developers were very friendly though they weren't too pushy about getting you to try their game. Having presented creative work to large groups of people before I know that even someone simply ignoring your booth can feel like a personal rejection. I made a point of letting the developers know when I really thought their game was interesting.
It was about a 50/50 split between Japanese and foreign developers. Probably the most interesting pieces came from the Japanese developers. There is a trend right now in the Japanese game industry where senior employees quit their jobs at large companies (something typically unheard of in Japan) and starting their own projects. Most notably, the creator of the Megaman series, Kenji Inafune, has left Capcom to produce his own games at his new studio Comcept. Though I can't be sure, I would imagine that the creator of the game pictured above, an older Japanese man, is likely an ex-employee of one of the big Japanese studios of the past. He was promoting a brand new game for the NES. I'm now sure how he obtains the cartridges, but he has taken the current cute anime style and applied it to the very graphically limited NES platform making for an interesting visual effect. This is an excellent example of Japanese dedication and I suppose of the Japanese resistance to change.
One wall of the building was occupied by a stage that hosted several speakers from the industry. The final speaker was the man behind the music for PaRappa the Rapper.
I had a lot of fun at the convention and saw a lot of cool games I would have probably never heard about otherwise. This has also reinvigorated my interest in my own game. I have always enjoyed creative pursuits and it looks like making games may be the perfect fit for me.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Looking through the produce section I found this adorable vegetable set. It comes with all the vegetables you need to make 1 serving of シチュー(stew). It was $1.50, so I bought it for the novelty. It is common for Japanese people to buy just the ingredients for that evening's meal so for a single person, something like this is perfect.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I'm always on the lookout for interesting cars in Japan, especially cars by American makers that aren't available in the US. I've seen one model of Chevy and a few Ford trucks that were probably imported by enthusiasts. I even saw a '70 Firebird that was heavily customized. As Japanese cities go, Hirakata has a relatively large number of cars though it's nothing compared to a comparably large American city like Minneapolis.
Today I happened upon the first Chrysler I've seen here. It's a Chrysler Ypsilon. I did a bit more research and found out that it's actually a car produced by the Italian company Lancia, re-branded for Japan. I've never seen another Chrysler here so I don't know if they have a reputation for Luxury, but it's definitely an interesting car.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Every so often I happen upon an abandoned Pachinko ball and wonder where it might have come from. The world of Pachinko seems rather bizarre to me. It is essentially just another form of gambling, but instead of the clearly adult-oriented affects of American gambling establishments, Pachinko parlors are full of machines with brightly-colored anime characters. As these characters shout encouragement, grown men spend more and more money playing a losing game of chance with a thin veil of control. While the imagery of American gambling is often associated with vice, it's hard to imagine that so many Japanese men have been financially devastated to the cheerful, innocent imagery of anime characters.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Public works projects in Japan are usually well-funded and arguably over-staffed which means that there is construction everywhere and infrastructure is almost always in excellent shape. It would appear that in a pinch, though, corners are sometimes cut.