Out and About

As you go around, you think things. A lot of them seem out of place, and a lot of them have no connection to anything else you thought in the day. When you see new things, you form an initial opinion instantly. This opinion rarely lasts long as you become accustomed to what you have seen. This is a collection of random thoughts and opinions formed while wandering almost randomly around Tokyo.

Cool stuff

Everyone here wears a uniform – people selling tickets, cleaners, people at information desks, sales staff – and they all make them look really neat. It makes them look like they take pride in their jobs.
Vending machines everywhere
No matter where you are, it’s only a short walk to a vending machine. You can usually buy water, calpis (a kind of fermented milk drink), soft drinks, tea, coffee, beer and cigarettes. It’s often cheaper to buy from a vending machine than from a supermarket, too.
Hotel setting air conditioning to 30°C in our room before we arrived
Sounds insane? Well think about it. They must have looked at the weather reports for Melbourne and seen that we’d been having days in the high thirties to low forties. Then in an effort to make us more feel at home, set the air conditioning to as close to that as possible (it doesn’t go higher than 30°C).
Friendly, helpful people
It’s always nice to find someone who’s willing to try to help, especially when you don’t speak each other’s languages and have to communicate largely with gestures.
Good food
Yes, pretty normal, but we’ve had plenty of it these last few days. In particular, the eel here is much tastier than in Australia.
Free Internet in hotel
A bit geek, but it’s true. Free wired and wireless Internet. Without it I wouldn’t be writing this. And it’s better than I ever got in the US of A.
ISDN payphones
At least half the NTT payphones here are ISDN. You can plug your notebook or palmtop in and get a high-speed link directly to your company office no matter where you are. I know, this is even geekier than the previous item.
Arbitrated pedestrian crossings
The friendly police stand there telling the cars and pedestrians who has to stop and who can go.
The cat/kitten logo
Some transport company has a cool stylised line art logo of a cat carrying a kitten by the scruff of the neck. They do taxis, refrigerated transport and other things. But the logo is what makes them cool.
Talking machines
Everything here talks. If you put a coin that’s not accepted in a ticket machine, it tells you. If you didn’t put enough money in a payphone, it will speak to you. When you buy something from a vending machine, it thanks you. I know it’s all pre-recorded or synthesised, but it still makes me smile.
My powerbook with a solid Japanese/English dictionary
Enough said. It’s got us out of trouble more than once.

What sucks

You get this in every city, but it seems to be a bit worse than Melbourne or Sydney here. That and the smelly drains in the street. You get them in Melbourne, but there seem to be more of them here.
No matter where you go you find them – bad drivers, inconsiderate people, rude and unhelpful waitresses. You have to put up with them or ignore them.
HMV having more English music than Japanese
Note that this doesn’t apply to all the music stores here – just some of the big ones, and I’ve singled out HMV. About two thirds of the shop is filled with all the American, British and Australian artists, and only about a third has Japanese music in it.
The quality isn’t any good. PAL makes far better use of the bandwidth. Also, it means that we can’t buy a video camera here to bring home.

What’s weird

Typing arcade games
Like Time Crisis or House of the Dead, except that each enemy has a word on them, and you have to type the word on a keyboard instead of shooting them with a lightgun. I’ve never seen them in Australia, but they’re quite prolific here.
Sheer number of left-hand drive cars
I guess they must be grey imports from Asia/Europe/America. There are just so many of them here! The road authorities mustn’t be too strict on requiring imports to be converted to right-hand drive here.

This entry was posted on Thursday, 5 January, 2006 at 10:51 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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