So it’s about 4:00p, and I just finished my first meal of the day. That’s not good for a lot of reasons, but it’s usually the way things work on the weekend since I have no kitchen. What did I eat after fasting for 30 hours you say? A lamb wrap from a foreign (meaning non-Japanese) street vendor. I think 90% of the street vendors in Tokyo are foreigners (maybe American), which is kind of funny when you think about it (if you’ve ever been to New York). Anyway, the funny part of this story is I’m looking at the menu (written and Japanese), and make my choice. Here’s how the dialoug went.
Vendor: [coolly, slightly blase] Hey, how’sitgoing?
Me: Uh, fine. I’ll have a normal [size] wrap.
Me: How hot is the “hot” sauce?
Vendor: [nonchalantly] Not hot.
Me: Ok, I’ll take that.
It’s the kind of banter I think Sword would appreciate. It had the cadence we respect with familiarity.
So I was in Akihabara. Akiba is dangerous in similar ways to Kabuki-cho, but from a different angle. Regardless, in either place you’re [I’m] likely to walk in with the intention of just a pleasant stroll or some window shopping, but you end up walking out feeling good having received more than a few things you really don’t need, and with a lot less money. As my friend Rodney once said “In Kabuki-cho you’re not in danger so much physically as you are fiscally.”
I haven’t been to Kabuki-cho since the eventful “Night of Sin” last summer. I’m not going to write about that here, you’ll have to email me for the mortifying details.
Anyway, this time though the end result was the same, the threat was an abundance of cheaply priced electronics stores, discount video game dens, and eight-story figure and otakumono purchase palaces. I think I was pretty good all things considered. I stuck to my promise of only five minutes in Aso Bit City (on the first floor mind you), and I didn’t even go _into_ GAMERS. I did, however, pick up Mr. Driller: Drill Land and the much-debated Zelda: The Wind Waker for Gamecube. Only cost me 3900 yen, that’s a DAMN good deal, even if they were used (which they weren’t).
Technology is a funny thing. I don’t understand it sometimes, and this results in much amusement (at least for me). For example, last summer I thought my apt. had a rice cooker, so I filled it with water, set it to hot and dumped some rice in the main receptacle. After wondering what the large round button on top was for, I pushed it and discovered it made the water bubble about and through the gauge on the front. After some more pumping I saw the rice go zipping through the translucent pressurized conduit like a Mr. Wizard experiment. Ok, that was interesting. It wasn’t until several months later when I saw someone use a similiar device TO PUMP HOT WATER INTO A TEACUP. Ok, so it wasn’t a rice cooker. I wonder if the next person to use it after I moved out got two-month old rice in their tea. Hmm…
Ever since my 10-year old Land’s End sandals disintegrated after running full speed into the train station steps and falling (cheap pieces of junk!), I’ve been wearing the same pair of shoes all summer as I couldn’t fit any more in my baggage when I first came. So I’ve been wanting several, if not at least one, new pair of foot protectors for a while. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds. People are smaller in this country. I found an AWESOME pair of shiny brown leather shoes (looked like Indiana Jones‘) at a department store near Akiba’s eki, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
Me: Konno kutsu de wa, ni juu kyu sento saizi ga arimasu ka? (Do you have these shoes in size 29cm?)
Vendor: Ni juu kyu?! (29?!)
Me: Hai. (Yes.)
Vendor: Nai desu yo! (Hell no, are you nuts?)
Me: [meekly] Ni juu hachi? (28?)
Vendor: Konno kutsu wa, ni juu nana made desu. (This shoes only go up to 27.)
Me: Honto? Sumi masen. (Really? Uh…sorry.)
Vendor: Hai. (Ok.)
Yeah. It was like walking into a miniature poodle shop and asking if they had any shetland pony-size models in stock. They just don’t come that way.
Speaking of dogs, early in the day I witnessed another poor victim of Japanese people’s attempt to over cutesify things. I can’t overstate this point enough…Japanese develop dogs the size of rats, in MULTIPLE breeds. It’s not like they’re all chihuahuas, it’s just that every daschund, welsh corgie, terrier and shih-tzu is about the size of a Skecher. And they’re all constantly dragged along against their will by people of all sizes and age, or humiliated by being put in purses, bike baskets, or shopping bags. There’s even magazines endorsing putting suits on them, perming their hair and all other kinds of insane modifications. Like they’re Barbie dolls or something. … This pitiful creature in particular was especially abused, its white ears were dyed hot pink and it was being pushed in a baby carriage.
So while standing in line to get the train back home (the pink-eared dog passed me again), I chose my line to wait in carefully. Carefully of course means the one that ends with a girl that has about as much fabric on her body as I have cash register receipts from today’s meals. She was especially brown (for a Japanese person), and her little yellow shirt stopped a couple centimeters below her ribs leaving a wide swath of flesh before her incredibly low jean shorts started and ended a hand’s length later. And she had this way of standing…of bending one knee and crossing her foot over the other, pooching out her hip. It said “Gee, I sure am wawwying if I will eva eva get an interesting email on my pwetty cell phone (in Japanese).” Yeah. I wasn’t sure if I turned on or repulsed. I think the majority of men standing in line around me felt the same way from the looks on their faces. I sat next to her because I had to, but unfortunately she got off two stops later and I never got a good look at her face/front. Oh well. It made me grin anyway.
The last thing I’ll talk about [my neck really hurts now], is how ridiculous Southern accents sound in Japan. I could make a CD and it would sell a million copies just by adopting an absurd Jeff Foxworthy-voice and saying “KO-NEE-CHEE-WAA”. Maybe I should put up a .wav file or something. There were two colorful, NASCAR-loving individuals on the train home. I wish I could have recorded their embarrassing drawl as it spilled over every mispronounced syllable. But then again, I shouldn’t talk. Just yesterday someone I talked to asked me if _I_ was from a particular region of the US because my Virginia twang was peeking through. Ugh. Good thing no one here has heard me on the phone to home.
With that, I’m watching an episode of Mahoromatic and going to sleep [how the frick did it get so late?!].