Thursday, January 28, 2010

Odaiba again

Can you tell it's my favorite place? Oh yes, we went today to celebrate my fellow American's last day in the country, which means no more whiteys for me. So sad. We made the usual rounds, eating at my favorite restaurant called Gigi, though I could be wrong as their card has 3 different tames on it. They have the best carbonara in the world. Really. So we saw the Ferris Wheel, the Toyota show room, the Statue of Liberty and of course (because it's me), FujiTV where I dropped too much cash on merchandise for two comedy troupes I currently love called Hannya and Shizuru. I also went up for the very first time into the giant ball that's the landmark trait of the Fuji TV building, and let me tell you, it wasn't worth the $5 I paid for it. Tokyo Tower, heck, even the Ferris Wheel, have pretty much the same view, and there was nothing else really up there. We also made a pitstop in the game center (aka Arcade), for today's Word of the Day: Purikura. Purikura is a photobooth (you might already be familiar with), where you go in with your friends, take wacky pictures for too much money ($4-$5), then afterwards add hearts, backgrounds and words to personalize it. Another great thing about them is, they make you look better than you really do (though I don't know how). Purikura machines, like vending machines, are truly all over the freaking place in this country, but the arcade under the Ferris Wheel just happens to be a hub for them, having easily 12, if not more, all unique. If I might slightly digress now...

When I came to Japan, I was expecting a technological space age country where your cell phone could set you up on a blind date, make you reservations, charter you a helicopter and then fly it for you, all with the click of a button. I at least expected DVR and Blu-Ray, high definition TVs and a society thriving on digital downloads. I mean, if a country can produce a robot that can tell you when it feels pain in the dentist office (which I can, I saw a special on it), I was expecting to be wowed, to feel shock-and-awe at how behind America really is. And I was sorely disappointed. I'm not very confident that DVRs actually exist in this country. From what I've seen from my family and my teachers, if someone wants to tape something, they do it on a VCR tape. Yes. Their cell phones are only infinitisimally (?) better than ours, and only if you buy the $600 one (their phones are also about 3-5 times more expensive, excluding phone plans). People use their cell phones a lot, more often than not to play solitary, cross words, or watch TV programs. The PSP and Nintendo DS are popular on-the-train time wasters. So, in other words, when you come to Japan, don't expect lofty, super technology. It's pretty much the same as ours, only different brands. What led me to this digression, however, is the purikura machine. Different machines all pretty much do the same thing (they're photobooths), but they have their own style to try to lure you to one particular machine over the other (one's punky, ones traditional, one looks fancy, with prom dresses on the pictures, etc). That being said, we did run across one today that, unfortunately, we did not use, but which still amazed me. Said purikura machine actually changes your physical features. You go in, take the pictures, then during the part after, when you usually draw hearts and stars on your pic, instead you draw makeup on yourself. This machine also literally enlarges your eyes to be almost surreal looking, and if I understand correctly, will change your hair color too. If I ever go back there, I'm definitely going to have to try that one.

Besides the purikura, that arcade is massive, with vending machines, ping pong games, pachinko and more. They even have these animals, about the size of a go cart (giraffe, bear, etc.), which you put a coin in and get on and it will actually walk you around the entire place. I have a picture of me on an inanimate one, if you are interested in seeing it, though I never rode the thing for real. Anywho, I suppose that's really all for now. Tomorrow I'll post about yet another headache involving coming and going between countries and whatnot. Things here are never easy. Also, I forgot about ever posting about the day I dressed in a full kimono (took 45 min. for someone to dress me), I sat through my host mother (the tea master's) tea ceremony, and went out with everyone in our class for a very expensive course menu with 14 courses (literally), all made of tofu. Anyways, here's a pic of me in the kimono. I added a few more on my photobucket. したらね!

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