"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

"A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms." - George Wald

***

Japan trip
Day 17 - 22nd June - Tokyo



Mortuary in the morning

Out of 28 coffins in my mortuary (IIRC there was one more on my floor, though it might not have been the same size), only 1 was unoccupied. There were definitely a lot more unoccupied ones when I went to sleep. These businessmen really party hard.

I then left to meet MR at Tsukiji (and gave him the manta ray I'd been lugging around half of Honshu), one of the last things I wanted to do before leaving Japan (and which he hadn't visited yet).


Map of the area. As you can see, there's nothing else to see in the area.


Last season's courtesy campaign

Reaching Tsukiji at the unearthly time of 6:08am, I was wroth to discover it closed:


Closed on every Wednesday in June, as well as Sundays and Public Holidays (the 2009 calendar reveals a seemingly arbitrary choice of weekdays for closure)

It was slightly comforting to know that we were not the only ones not to know about the closure. Stupid Lonely Planet (even the 2005 calendar reveals the same seemingly arbitrary pattern of closure days).

I suspect Tsukiji is popular among Ang Mohs because they don't go to wet markets, so the novelty factor is greater for them.

I guess the moral of the story is: don't expect the sushi and sashimi you eat on Sundays and Public Holidays and assorted random days to be fresh.

We then adjourned for breakfast.


A tourist-friendly place, which we avoided


The place we went to: "Sushi Donburi No Don" (???)


This was the first time I had unagi which hadn't been marinated into submission

We then parted and I returned to my hotel.


"Club Slow Life", "Hunny Hunt" and "Undies Club Zeus". I don't know what "CS" and "BS" are though.


"Baltic Curry". Funny, I didn't see any curry in the Baltics. Their website is down but apparently it's one of Japan's leading curry & ramen restaurant chains.

After resting a while in my room coffin, I checked out and dumped my backpack in the railway station, and went to meet Xephyris in Akihabara.


In memory of the slashing victims. MR said since the stabbing the atmosphere had not been the same (for example the road used to be closed so people could walk), and there were no cosplayers. I said I should've visited earlier (before I went to tour Honshu), and then he said then I would've been stabbed. Gah.


Love Merci: "Welcome Foreign Buyers!!! Dealer and Exports Inquiries Welcome."

I'd asked MR about "Love Merci" (which I saw the previous night) and he said it was an adult shop. I guess whenever they say "love" they mean "Sex".

Since Xephyris wasn't there yet, I went in and found tons of stuff inside: costumes, underwear, butt plugs, lube (not very useful for non-Japanese speakers - you could get an oil-based lube unknowingly which'd dissolve your condom), vibrators (including Hitachi Magic Wand attachments for masturbation sleeves, torsos to hump, hands to give you handjobs etc ), S&M gear, vibrating masturbating sleeves, masturbation sleeves disguised as pillows, and mattresses and chairs to have sex on (for blowups). I even found the Fabled Hello Kitty Vibrator Vibrating Shoulder Massager:

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Interestingly, women were banned from the 3rd and 4th floors (with porn and guy toys). I wonder whose benefit that was for - the men's or the women's.


Yodobashi-Akiba shopping centre


"Learn English so you can seduce gaijin with your schoolgirl charms" (Waseda Prep)
Everyone loves English - but no one wants to speak it.


Bacon McMuffin. Mmm... There's a good reason we don't have Bacon McMuffins in Singapore (replacing it with ham) - unlike Burger King McDonalds knows Turkey Bacon tastes is like cardboard.

I saw my first Burger King in Akihabara. It said it was the first in Japan.


Weird pamphlet I got from Kōfuku no Kagaku ("The Institute for Research in Human Happiness"). It sounded like either:
i) Scientology
ii) Christian evangelism
In reality it's some new age rubbish.


Akihabara

I wasn't an otaku and wasn't that into electronics so I just walked around. For the really interesting things you need a guide anyway.

McDonalds fries with beef extract have a very slight added edge and bite.


Maid cafe ads. I don't get the last - how is it a maid cafe if they're not dressed as maids?

Xephyris said no schools had students who wore school uniforms on Sunday (which made me wonder again why I saw a schoolgirl in Koyasan in uniform).


Disgusting outfit


Bottled drinks: In Memoriam (to the slashing victims). As with so many other things, this puzzled me.


Maid cafe. I wanted to go to one but we had no time. Suffice it to say that Xephyris contrasted the CHIJMES one with the Japanese ones by saying that the ones at CHIJMES were waitresses dressed as maids, whereas the ones in Japan actually spoke and acted like maids.




Presumably if you do well in the arcade game you get to strip her


Maid soliciting outside maid cafe. Presumably this is their best maid. If so, that's quite sad.


Lunch: Pork Cutlet Burger at Mos Burger


Xephyris demonstrating Japanese phone technology, which is so advanced you can watch TV on your phone (but be limited to IR, with no Bluetooth)

After a short rendezvous with Chinx at the station (he was late, bah) I then left for the airport.

On the train there I realised that, shit-o, I'd remembered the time wrongly and I'd left 2 hours too early. At least that was better than leaving 2 hours too late. My only regret was missing the maid cafe (not that I'd understand what they were saying anyway; oh well, there's always the next time).


A rainy Ueno

At the airport I had lots of time, so I walked around.

In Narita they ask you not to jump in elevators. Hah.

One place sold a USB drive in the shape of sushi. Wth. They also had a webcam in the shape of a Japanese Cyclops.


Japanese smut novels, presumably targeting men and not women.

The Cosmo July 2008 cover had: "Denise van Outen on sex and love. Never change yourself for a bloke". Doubtless saying "Never change yourself for a gal" would be considered misogynistic.

There was a book: "D!rty Japanese" by a Matt Fargo. With it you could understand Jap porn. Hah.


"Living with a foreigner" - naturally, it's a white guy. Hurr hurr.

There were schoolgirls in many different uniforms with nametags wandering around the airport. Wth.

I noticed my Northwest Amenities Coupon allowed me to get a serving of alcohol (a cocktail, beer or wine) which was weird, since I thought all airlines served it. In the end I decided to redeem it for airport food, since I was feeling peckish.


Various options. Again, you see more rice with noodles (in one set), and Jap-style Italian food.


What I settled for amidst the tempting choices: Tri-colour soba and udon


You respect the chefs in "Garden Groumet Court" by not bringing in outside food. Hah.


(Pre-)Dinner


Jap tea primer. My thoughts: "There's sweetness in Sencha?!"

Customs Notice: "Exportation of high-tech electronic apparatus is subject to approval from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry". Does the Aibo count?


Oxygen Bar


"Massager". Interestingly, my scribbled note and what I named this picture a few days ago are the same (despite the near-8 month interval): "yeah right"

The self-service NWA checkin here had people standing around ready to assist, but unlike in Singapore I got to press the buttons myself. I guess the Japs are smarter than Singaporeans.

The personal lights in NWA seats fadeout when you turn them off. Interesting.

When I pressed the attendant call button, I was attended to in just over 30 seconds - a world of difference from KLM!


I rock in trivia (the fact that scores are kept across flights implies there's a central database). The picture is blur due to turbulence.


In conclusion, some miscellaneous thoughts about Chikan-land:

There isn't much hand scooped ice cream in Japan. They prefer soft serve. Maybe this is because soft serve uses a machine, and machines are their comparative advantage. In fact, soft serve (except at fast food joints) is typically pre-packaged: there's a machine which pushes ice cream out of a carton to give you instant soft-serve. This is probably the cheapest way of selling ice cream (since you don't need to maintain and clean a machine with liquid flowing through it but just a press and a simple freezer) without descending to the level of ais krim (e.g. using krimer rather than susu, and "nature identical" flavourings rather than natural ones), and you don't get soggy cones too.

IIRC there was one more prayer wheel I turned which upgraded my reincarnation status from woman to man, but I can't remember where it was (my reincarnation projection had previously been upgraded by turning a prayer wheel in Amanohashidate and being blessed by a priest in Osaka). Anyhow it was for naught, since my various deeds pushed me back down to the cockroach level again.

Japanese politeness is much commented on, but if you're always polite, you're polite in more than one way (as in polite laughter in response to a bad joke).

The older women in Hiroshima seemed somewhat better endowed than elsewhere in Japan. My first thought was oysters (no wonder they're an aphrodisiac), but they didn't seem to affect the younger women (I rejected this hypothesis at quite a small test size). Maybe it's the radiation - I need to visit Nagasaki.

Hiroshima was also exceptional in another way: the gender ratio of schoolkids there was about even. Maybe the mothers in the rest of Japan don't eat much (since they must keep their figures), which results in the skewed gender ratio. That said, many of the better-endowed girls compensated by having poorer endowments in other aspects, as if the endowment was fixed. This might be more evidence for my AV girl theory.

It was quite disappointing since the only sort of vending machines I saw sold alcohol, tobacco, drinks, snacks, ice cream, chewing gum, calling cards, newspapers, hot food, ramen/oden and shrine-related material.

Someone said a lot of Japanese women were Ah Lian. I disagreed with the term (since they didn't have the coarse, uncouth Ah Lian edge), but knew what she meant: they were confident and daringly madeup/accessorised/dressed.

The only hair colours I saw were blonde, brown and a couple of redheads (brown-red, at that). I was very disappointed. What happened to green?! Silver?! Or Pink (well, I saw the back of a girl with pink hair)?!

Japanese men seem to cross their legs more often than Japanese women (who don't do it that often), at least on the subway.

Only in Nara did I see anything approaching an even gender ratio for school kids (2 girls to 1 boy). Elsewhere it was 7:3 at least. Where are all the boys? Since they're not in their 20s they can't be hikkimori.

I theorise that Japanese primary schoolkids wear yellow hats to protect them from heatstroke.

For a technologically advanced country which leads the world in camera technology, there's a huge number of people in Japan using disposable cameras. This was especially pronounced in one demographic: I didn't see a single schoolkid with a real camera, though I *might* have seen one or two with phone cameras.

I noticed that when I asked people to help me take pictures, the men took better pictures than the women.

Even the Japanese who can speak English are reluctant to use it, despite being faced not even with chotto nihongo but chotto chotto chotto nihongo.

European trains are more English-friendly than Japanese ones.

Chinx and Xephyris said Jap girls talk in an artificially-high voice until you get to know them well, or you tell them you're not interested.

In my time in Japan I'd only seen 2-3 people in Crocs. The Japanese are sensible.

The Japs mostly didn't jaywalk - unless I set the precedent.

I didn't see any Malaysian Mannikins in Japan!

There's a lot more nice or wth stuff to take photos of in Japan than in the Baltics.

I want to explore Odaiba more thoroughly next time, and in the day, since it's a favourite Sentai filming location.

Apparently a lot of Jap girls are looking for English-speaking, non-Japanese boyfriends.


Advantages of travelling with people: company, you can share food, people watch your back, they can help you take photos/videos (eg of you rolling down a hill), you can outsource planning and navigation, you have people to blame (which is why my sister likes travelling with my brother-in-law so much) and they point out what you miss.

Disadvantages: the loss of freedom, you must accommodate others, they have quirks, it can be more expensive (there're things other people want to see or do, or they have higher expected comfort levels), you have no solitude privacy and personal space and it's harder to mix with other people.
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