Hey guys! So it's been a heck of a long time. Sorry about that. Laziness doth overtake me. But I'm here to give you a real post now. So today I went to Ginza for the first time and was, naturally, impressed. It's the sort of shopping area where there are doormen at most of the stores wearing tails, tophats and white gloves, a place full of glass chandeliers and European-style architecture. I'm also told that a large and famous Kabuki theater is there. So my host mom took me to a very expensive mall for super rich older ladies and an enthusiastic young worker (25) there conned me into trying on a black kimono for him and the other spectators. This kimono shop, in contrast to the other I went too, sells kimonos that are either $2,000 or $20,000 (can't remember which my host mom said, but either is believable). We exited there and went to Japan's one and only Abercrombie & Fitch store, which was bustling and the most shameless place you'll ever go. It's as if A & F just called a male model agency and hired about 50 of their top sellers. And they were all dressed with their shirts open, greeting you at the top of every staircase (and there were many; 11 floors at least I think). And to top it all off, they take your picture with a shirtless guy with a six-pack before you leave. Oh it was so shameless. Also, I wanted to mention White Day, since the streets were packed because of it.
In Japan, on Valentine's Day, only women give presents (almost always chocolate, homemade if you really love the person). Presents are given to husbands, boyfriends, friends and coworkers. Then, one month later on March 14 Japan has White Day on which men return the favor giving gifts (traditionally marshmallows or white chocolate, though candy and jewelry are becoming more popular) to their wives, daughters, girlfriends, and coworkers. Thus, Ginza was bustling with very, very rich men in suits with briefcases.
The last thing I wanted to mention, and this is going to be boring so if you're not living or going to live in Japan, just skip it, was about leaving the country. When you first get here, you have to fill out a disembarkation/entry form, the former of which is stapled into your passport and ripped out when you leave for good. However, if you want to leave Japan before your final departure date (say, for travel to other Asian contries, or to go home for a stint), you have to get another form or they won't let you back into the country. So that means, you can get out, but not back in again. So what you do is go to the Immigration Office (for Tokyo I think it's near Shinagawa), buy a stamp at the convience store built into the Immigration building (one time re-entry costs $30), then fill out two forms which they have at the counter, take a number and wait for a very long time in the waiting room. Once it's your turn, you go to the counter, give the lady the forms and your red stamp and she'll take everything and give you a smaller card to take to the airport. Once your at the airport, ready to leave for your short trip, you present this new form (filled out of course) to the guy at passport inspection and he'll staple it in your passport. When you return from your trip you go into a special line at passport inspection, where they rip the card out and that's that. Piece of cake.