Friday, January 06, 2006

A Night of Wandering

Earlier, I set out for a stroll. The cool part about walking around here is that there is so much to see and do that I don't care where I go, it will all be new.

Tonight I decided to head down some of the smaller streets to see what I could find, it was an enlightening trip. One of the first things I came across was a bookstore/cafe/coffee house that acted as a kind of library for manga comics. It was kind of dumpy but it had character and like most places that serve food around here, it smelled pretty good to me. After a bit of looking around, I headed out again.

A while later, I came upon a DVD store. Upon seeing it was a DVD store I went in to take a peek. Yeah. Yeah. When the Japanese say DVD store, they mean porn store. At least that is what this one was. You walk in the door and see some of the more familiar dvd titles like, "Harry Potter" but not five feet away is a movie with a girl taking it from a horse, I am not kidding. Here is the funny part about porn in Japan, the videos can show intercourse, bestiality, oral sex, whatever, but its censored. They blot out genitalia. Why on God's green Earth would you watch porn if all of the reasons you watch porn to begin with are fuzzy. Well, I take that back, breasts are not censored. In fact, breasts are fairly abundant in magazines here. Speaking of magazines, most computer magazines here are little more than a series of pages to show of porn ads. The thought is, if you are a nerd, you are also a perv.

After the DVD store, I continued to wander through the allies. The next phenomonon I witnessed was that of what I can only describe as a series of very small strip clubs. Most of the men I saw walking into them were business men and these shops were doing a fair amount of business. I think the way it works is outside each club is a poster with a bunch of different girls on it. Each girl is named and priced. You then go in, tell the person at the counter which girl you want to hang out with and they sit you down in a room and the girl of your choice comes in. the price of the session depends on the establishment and the girl but from the places I saw, the going rate is between 2000yen and 7000yen. Now, I do not know if sex goes on here or not. The men may just pay for the girls to hang out with them, as that is not uncommon here either. It may also be a private strip session. Not sure, haven't tried it, don't really plan to. But if I learn more, I will post it.

The next stop on the trip was a pachinko parlor. These places are loud and smokey. Pachinko, is the Japanese version of pinball with a lot more luck than skill coming into play. It is a hard game to describe and there are a ton of variations on the theme. Do a search for it and you will find all sorts of pictures and descriptions. I sat down at a machine that looked kind of like a space-age racing game that had jet cars and stuff in the video that was playing on the screen. The minimum to play was 1000yen or about $10.00 so I slipped a bill in the slot and was greeted by nothing. I pushed a button and a bunch of metal balls shot into a tray in front of me, I pushed another button and they all dropped into a removable bin that you carry with you as you play the games. Many of the people here had five or six bins of tiny steel balls in them, each bin with hundreds of balls. Either way, I figured I had done something wrong so I pushed another button and a credit card thing shot out the side of the machine. I have seen these at other arcades in the US so I put the card back in and pushed a different button this time. The ball came into the tray like they did before but instead of pressing a button to drop them into a bin, I pressed another button and this shot one of the balls up into the machine. The goal of the game I think, is to try to manuveur the balls into specific holes on the playing field. I did this a couple of times and was rewarded with a little cartoon. In the end, I do not understand the game and do not think I am that big of a fan anyway. People here love it though and they play it for hours on end. After they are through, they cash in the balls they have collected for prizes like cases of beer, dvds, wallets, and other stuff.

In the same building as the pachinko parlor, there was a small arcade. I played the game where you beat the taiko drum to the beat and found that I was surprisingly good at it. I like that game, it has peppy music and cute characters. All of the arcades I have been in here have a section dedicated to picture booths. All of the girls like to go to these booths to get pictures of themselves with their friends on different goofy backgrounds. I was stopped in this one though because they were having a party or it was a special session for only certain people or something. Again, my Japanese isn't good and his English was non-existent so I politely made my way out.

All in all, it was a very educational walk. I like exploring the city alone because it allows me the freedom to go where I want. Safety is not a concern here for several reasons: A)The crime rate Japan is low, really low. Japanese women have no trouble walking through the streets at night. B)I am a big white guy. I stand a good four inches taller than most men here and I have a frame that is much bigger and more robust than most of them. In my jacket and cargo pants with my huge shoes, I am not one to be messed with. Little do they know I have never been in a fight. :)

I also walked around a place called Loft. It is a big building that is kind of like a mall but not really. It was closing when I went in and so there were almost no people. I rode the escalators up as far as they went and went to a place that had a nice view of the city and sat for a moment. It was very relaxing and quiet. It was probably the most soulful part of my trip so far. While in the building, I saw another group of dancing girls. This is a strange phenomonon as well. Teenage girls get togather in random places with a boombox, put on matching outfits, and dance to their hearts' content. It is kind of funny and I have seen it twice now. I have pics that I will post later. I will probably make a whole post dedicated to the topic, as it seems to be rather common here.

To top off the walk, I went to Matsuya to eat. It was yummy and I was happy. For more on Matsuya, check out my previous post. If anyone reading this has a particular question or curiosity about Japan and wants me to look into it for them, let me know and I will try my best to give you an answer. Anywho, I am going to get some rest now as today was a pretty long day. This morning, I went to Nagoya Castle. It was cool and I will post about it later when I feel like writing more.


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