Thursday, May 5, 2011

Japan: Day Seven

Woah this marks ONE WEEK in Japan. Amazing.

Anyways yesterday was pretty similar to the day before: I got up, wandered around until the early evening, and then went home. It was, like before, one of the most wonderful, enlightening, memorable, uh, magical?, generally great days of my life. Okay and you might be like "geez man cut it with the hyperbole, no one likes anime that much", but YEAH I REALLY DO LIKE ANIME THAT MUCH.

Seriously though if it was just a day of going into stores that sold things I really wanted for extremely cheap prices it would have been a pretty darn fun day, sure, but probably not one I'd rank as one of my favorite days of my life. What made it so great was this sense of limitless potential for discovery. This sort of ties into what I was talking about earlier about how I feel the most satisfying types of happiness are ones where you feel like you're actually making dramatic steps further in terms of knowledge or intelligence or understanding, and how the potential for this diminishes as you age. Well, in a culture that is so far removed from everything you've known, your understanding becomes that of a kid again. Things like going into random variety stores, things that have become totally mundane, can provoke a genuine sense of wonderment. Even when something is largely the same as it was in Canada, which really still is the case more than not, the sense of recognition and the highlighting of what small differences exist is also pretty amazing.

Also a big factor was the sense of freedom I had. I set out with no plans and no responsibilities. My navigation style was to turn to whatever direction looked the most interesting at each intersection. Beyond even freedom, though, was the sense of potential options. I mean, I could've had that freedom at home. Here, though, I have the freedom to be like, well, I want to play some video game. I bet there isn't many video games that I couldn't be playing, in the original, within an hour or two. Ditto for TV shows, movies, music, etc. Actually, that'd be a pretty fun sort of game, possibly expensive though. I guess this is going away from that idealistic cultural understanding enlightening territory and back into otaku-land, but oh well. I think I figured out exactly why the stores here seem so much better to me: they cater to the die hard fan. These stores have no interest in selling to casual shoppers - why should they? They make more than enough money from the die-hard fans. As a result, the idea that casual shoppers are driven away by dense organization and too much selection is ignored, if not mocked. Nothing ever comes off the shelves. SNES games sit happily next to PS2 games above a pile of strategy guides. Of course, "pile" is relative because meticulous organization is of paramount importance. Everything is priced, reasonably, with collectors in mind, no "novelty baseline" that we see on anything old - prices reflect an expertise on demand and scarcity. Between shops there is rarely a difference in prices, which to me suggests an espionage network of people seeking to prevent being undercut. Or perhaps collaborative price fixing, but given the weird vibe of friendly, but intense, rivalry between these incredibly huge and incredibly niche stores all within 500' of each other, I wouldn't think so. Rather, the stores compete by trying to be the most organized, trying to have the newest stuff, trying to have the best collection, trying to have the best service, etc, etc. The best kind of competition!

It is a bit overwhelming, though, as I mentioned in my last post. I'm chipping away at it, though. I did some research as to what is a good price, what I could get at home for not much more, etc, etc. and made some purchases yesterday.

Interesting things I bought yesterday
-White Gamecube controller. AW YES. It feels so good. It's been like years since I used an actually new Gamecube controller. The triggers are so... FRESH.
-Manga. I found a used manga store where they had a Golden Week sale. The prices were crazy. Old volumes of stuff were like 100 yen. Some that were a bit yellowed were like 10. 10!!!
-Super Smash Bros. DX players guide. It was cheap and I figured it'd be cool. I was right!

Interesting things I ate yesterday/this morning
-Ice cream that came in a squeeze pouch. Delicious!
-Mango/Apple Tropicana juice. Delicious!
-Korean BBQ. Delicious!
-Melon bread. Delicious!

Interesting things I saw yesterday
Well yesterday I realized that I had forgotten to put the SD card into my camera. I was like, oh well, not a huge deal, the camera has internal storage that can store a few pictures. And then I realized oh dang, I have no way of getting the pictures OFF the camera thing because I don't have the cable. So I still took some pictures but nothing too interesting 'cause I knew that I wouldn't be able to do anything with them until I got back. Hence my not going in this totally sweet zoo I found. Also the internal storage only holds like 40 pictures. And then when I got home I realized that I hadn't left the SD card at home or anything, I had left it in my netbook, which I had brought with me. This series of oversights I would describe as a "knucklehead flow that make you act real dumb" in the immortal words of Busta Rhymes.

Anyways yeah today we might go to said zoo, not sure.

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