View Full Version : 'I Live Next To An Egg Machine'

The Omen
26-03-2002, 08:17 PM
From Football365.com :

Despite the relatively high cost of living, Japan is surely unsurpassed as a place to go shopping. And as the World Cup co-hosts are currently experiencing deflation, prices just keep going down.

Many fans who arrive here with a bit of spare cash will almost certainly make a beeline for electronics shops - and for good reason.

These shops sell devices serving any purpose you might ever have imagined - and a few you almost certainly haven't - for very little money.

A typical example are digital cameras, which are half the price here that they are back in the UK.

On top of this, many shops in Japan have perpetual sales with additonal reductions of anything from 20% to 60%, as well as loyalty cards that give you anything up to another 18% off the price.

Stuff is cheap.

It is also weird.

You will find many items on Japanese shelves that will not go on sale back in blighty for at least another year.

Electronic body-hair trimmers, blackhead removers, a massive assortment of massaging 'aids' and recording equipment all vie for space.

Other cheap goods include fine Scottish Whisky. I'm becoming a connoisseur of the Islay Malts at present, taking advantage of the fact that the tipple is cheaper in Tokyo than it is in Troon.

Still, that's rip-off Britain for you.

Cars are also jaw-droppingly inexpensive, especially second-hand ones.

The farcically expensive (about £700 a pop) and ultra-thorough biennial MOT means that a) people often trade-in new cars every two years and b) second hand motors halve in value. This also means that there are fewer cars on the road and that they are all reasonably new.

The most expensive items in Japan are beer, clothes and shoes. Getting sizes to fit you can be nigh on impossible, especially if you are a woman above 5 foot 1.

Service however, is immaculate.

When you walk near the door of a shop, an official 'greeter' will bow and, with a broad, genuine smile, yell "Irasshaimase" ("welcome").

On hearing one person yell this, every other member of staff (of which there will be many) will follow suit.

This happens with every customer that walks into the shop. As a result, you will hear a cow-like cacophony of "mmeeeEEEEHHH" whenever you wish to purchase anything. It can be quite scary at first.

Shoppers new to Japan will not take long to notice the national obsession with Hello Kitty merchandise.

You can buy everything, from rice cookers though toilet seat covers to crystal decanters, with Hello Kitty on it. Of all the cutesy cartoons in Japan, "Kitty-chan" is king.

Where the Rising Sun shopping "experience" falls flat on its arse, however, is with jingles.

The Japanese don't recognise the existence of noise pollution, so be prepared when entering any shop to have to listen to a 60 second jingle played at top volume over and over and over again.

All day.

Lord knows how the shop staff stay sane.

In particularly guilty shops, it is often impossible to stay inside for more than five minutes before you start frothing at the mouth and looking for the nearest granny to punch.

If the shops freak you out, however, you can take advantage of another of Japan's great specialities: vending machines.

And yes, the stories are true - there are machines that dispense used schoolgirls' underwear.

Vending machines (not just the pervy ones) are everywhere here. It is not uncommon to see them alone, surrounded by fields with seemingly no power supply whatsoever.

There are even some on top of that most sacred of mountains, Mount Fuji.

Similarly, most 900-year-old temples will have one their doorstep.

They usually sell hot and cold drinks - including coffee and tea - in cans. However, you will also find those that dispense beer, whisky and sake.

Other machines vend video games, CDs and other expensive goods. Computer software, ready-stamped postcards, sacks of rice, jeans, porn and erm, similar paraphernalia are easy to find.

Freshly fried foods such as chicken, chips, octopus and sea bream are available. Cup-a-noodle machines can be found next to hot water machines.

One machine allows you to pick your favourite song and have it written to a mini-disc while you wait.

I live next to a fresh egg machine.

There are some 20 million such machines in Japan, collectively earning in the region of a staggering £40billion a year.

The only surprising let down are the cash machines, which are usually only open during daylight hours. Many people thus withdraw vast fortunes to last them for the whole week.

Others manage to forget about this fact. Every single time they go out. And end up owing their friends lots and lots of money.



Essential Japanese Phrase Of The Week
In Japanese: "Nan desu ka?"
Translation: "What is that?"

Interesting Japanese Word Of The Week
"Yoboyobo". Not a reference to England's travelling support, but the verb 'to become senile.'

Mentalist Website Of The Week
Find vending machine heaven at http://www.nokia.co.jp/tokyoq/tokyoscape/vend1.html

The Omen
26-03-2002, 08:24 PM
'A Poke Up The Bum? It's Just For Fun'

Arguably Japan's greatest gift to the world is Karaoke. And nowhere is it more popular and refined than in the land of the rising sun.

In Japan, no longer do you stand in front of a pub full of strangers singing Come On Eileen because after nine pints you stopped thinking that it might be a bad idea.

Now you can visit one of the many Karaoke emporiums which have scores of individual rooms, each complete with a state of the art sound system, and croon away to your heart's content.

If you want a drink, you simply phone in your request and a waitress will deliver it. It's basically like renting your own private bar for a fiver an hour.

Rooms come cupboard sized if there's just the two of you while large groups can have their own stage. Just don't take a camera - the lack of a strange, gawking audience might make you more carried away than normal.

However, possibly Japan's most popular pastime is Pachinko.

You know those fruit-machine arcades where the gutter scrapings of society (no offence to any readers) seem to spend there entire lives? Well, in Japan they drag it all up a class. Just.

The game of Pachinko involves buying silver balls, dropping them into a machine, and watching them fall down, bouncing off pins, in a random manner. If they land in a pay-out zone you win more balls, which you can either exchange for prizes or cash.

Highly devoted experts using portable computers can establish which machines are most likely to pay out but most people take a less scientific approach and just sit there for what seems like forever.

The din these machines make is remarkable and their abundance is phenomenal. It is perfectly normal to see rows of these Vegas-casino-sized monstrosities next to each other, in seemingly sparsely populated areas, on just one small stretch of road.

To cap it all, last year the Pachinko industry turned over more money than the Japanese car industry.


For the younger (or more lecherous) sections of society there is Purikura.

If you ever see swarms of schoolgirls giggling in and around small linoleum tents, this is what they are up to.

Purikura, and please pardon the cliché, are like photo-booths on acid. You can take pictures of you and your friends and then decorate them with colourful, squirly graphics and cutesy little pictures (see picture, right).

You only have a short time to do this, yet some of the highly complicated results show what a great deal of practice can achieve.

Japanese girls fill large albums with these tiny photos and trade them with friends.

Finally, as you know, Japan is rather good at producing electronics, despite the fact their lethal plug sockets often have pins sticking right out of the wall.

This means that even the highest technology games are available at home and has forced Japanese amusement arcades to dream up new ways to appeal to your average punter.

Their solution was to become, well, more interactive. Here are the current top ten games of the nation's pleasure palaces...

10) The Wok Cooking Game
Toss the dumplings through the hoop in the wok, like a pro wok chef does.

9) The Samurai Game
Bored of punching and kicking opponents? Why not slash them with a lightsabre-esque sword instead?

8) Taiko Drumming
Bang the drums in the correct order and in time to the instructions on screen. Bongotastic!

7) The Electric Guitar Game
Use the plastic electric guitar with its three fret-like buttons and 'plucker switch' to play the ultra-fast music shown on screen. One guy I saw was so good at this he made Hendrix look like George Formby.

6) The Dancing Game
Move your feet in time to the music and learn to 'dance'. Acutely embarrassing for most males.

5) The Sushi Cutting Game
Use a big knife to chop up the virtual fish wriggling around beneath it in the correct places before time runs out (see picture, right).

4) The Fluffy Toy And Lobster Grabber
These actually work in Japan - they don't just lightly caress their target or grip them like an arthritic pensioner. However, in Japan they've upped the ante by putting grabbers in tanks of live lobsters and goldfish (see right). Careful you don't grab a dead one!

3) Mr Crappy Snapper
As an alternative to the gory zombie shooting games you see in the arcades in Blighty, the Japanese have replaced guns with cameras. You now have to take pictures of say, a sporting event, art exhibit or wild animal in an aesthetic way. Such scenarios might be capturing a milk drop falling into a bowl at the precise moment of impact or a footballer just as he kicks the ball after controlling it with his chest. Fun.

2) The Dog Walking Game
Do you miss taking your pooch for a quick stroll? Then why not do it electronically?! Why not indeed…

1) The Bottom-Poking Game
This traditional favourite activity of Japanese schoolchildren can now be done legally by grown ups too. Known locally as Boong-Ga Boong-Ga, this game gives you the dubious pleasure of poking various characters up the khyber with the plastic, hand-shaped implement provided (see right). Not to be confused with Pokemon, which as any under-ten will tell you, is something entirely different.


Essential Japanese Phrase Of The Week
In Japanese: "Domo Arigato"
Translation: "Thanks very much"

Interesting Japanese Word Of The Week
"****ou". The England squad will be having plenty of "****ou" prior to the big event. Rather disappointingly, it means "training".

Mentalist Website Of The Week
Find out more on the pokey-bum game at http://www.wired.com/news/games/0,2101,48438,00.html

29-03-2002, 04:28 PM
Bought a Sanyo digital camera and video in HK. 4.2 mega pixel, 6x zoom can record for up to an hour and playback straight onto TV, sound, instant erase of pictures, and lots of other stuff I also do not understand. As some kind of CCD functionality.

Works on rechargeable AA batteries. Not available in UK yet. Boys with their toys had to have it £630.

Bought a friend back the highly rated Pentax Optio 430 £270.

Both with appropriate software, leads and memory cards

29-03-2002, 04:58 PM
Hell, and im in the market for a damn digi camera, now i'm gonna feel ripped off.

very interesting all that, particuarly the silver balls stuff.

but what i want to know, when your average, manure shirt wearing, balding, singing, and very loud, england follower, goes out on the town in tokyo, come then end of june, will he find a local sheila easy to errm score.

What is the feeling in tokyo, or japan in general, about europeans clashing on their streets, or are they sure it wont happen ?

Tokyo Eagle
30-03-2002, 04:25 PM
At the moment the World Cup fever is strangely muted at the moment.Hopefully Japan's win against Poland last week will start the atmosphere building up.

My Japanese friends here are more intrigued about the England fans than worried about it kicking off - but the authorities seem a bit nervous about the whole thing. Once people know I'm English (apparently a South London Accent makes me sound Australian/Swedish/Scottish...)
I get asked if I'm a hoorigan (I'm not joking) and asked if I'm going to any England games to fight !

I've yet to find the bottom poking video game yet - but I've walked the dog and found the lobster grabbing machine, played the quitar and banged the drums till my hands were raw. Don't mix arcades with lager !

As for scoring all you have to do is head for the western style bars in Roppongi (open until you leave) where there are a group of Japanese girls who want to make magic with a Western wand !

30-03-2002, 05:16 PM
Originally posted by Tokyo Eagle
...where there are a group of Japanese girls who want to make magic with a Western wand !

Tip of the week!!!

James Varcoe please note. ;)

30-03-2002, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Tokyo Eagle
As for scoring all you have to do is head for the western style bars in Roppongi (open until you leave) where there are a group of Japanese girls who want to make magic with a Western wand !

Reason i posed that question in the 1st place was, i have a liverpudlian workmate at the post office here in australia, that was employed as an english teacher in Japan, apparently he had the time of his life, and cant wait to get back there.

have you got any young jap lasses running around, slightly worn out, with scouse accents ???

Tokyo Eagle
30-03-2002, 06:14 PM
Originally posted by ozzieEagle
have you got any young jap lasses running around, slightly worn out, with scouse accents ???

I haven't seen them yet, but there's a few Japanese kids
I've noticed with permed hair and shellsuits - any relation ?

31-03-2002, 03:37 AM
Originally posted by Pistike

Tip of the week!!!

James Varcoe please note. ;)

Tip of the Month Steve.

Occasionally the BBS is very useful. :p

The Omen
04-04-2002, 07:48 PM
'Startled By An Over-Keen Scrubber'

I've been in Japan for a year now but I am still getting grief from back home.

It took six months for the Post Office to sort out redirecting my mail.

For four months, several companies insisted that I still owed them money for bills. I didn't.

My mortgage company has lurched from catastrophe to catastrophe.

My bank is just plain stupid (I mean really, how many letters can one receive that tell you to come in and pick up some important documents?). If any Halifax employees are reading this can I just say, "I'm in JAPAN!" and, "No I can't come in!" for the hundredth time?

As for dealing with Hackney Council. Ugh.

Does anything work back home?

Here, in Japan, all service-related industries are immaculate and people take great pride in their jobs, no matter what they are.

Go into a McDonald's in Japan and you will be welcomed by an army of smiling faced people who will provide you with a burger that a) looks like the ones in the pictures and b) will initially be too hot to eat. When leaving, a staff member may well offer to take your tray to the bin for you. Don't offend them by doing it yourself.

Employment is regarded as so important over here that when people are introduced to one another, their job title is placed before one's name. There is no class system but status derived through title is important.

Many companies will also hire people just to do their bit in keeping the nation's unemployment figures down.

As a result you can expect to see hordes of cleaners cleaning clean surfaces and swarms of gardeners gardening 'immaculately gardened' gardens.

Roadworks will have throngs of people working by the road (or rather not working, as the person whose job it is to empty the wheel barrow will do his bit when required and then stand around until the barrow is required again. Meanwhile the person whose job it is to spread the contents of the wheelbarrow on the ground will be pleased to know he finally has something to do).

The most prominent example of this 'over employment' is manifested when you see legions of 'stick wavers'... well... waving sticks.

These people 'direct' traffic around using small lightsabre-esque sticks.

At some road crossings I have seen as many as seven (that's seven) people waving sticks at cars which are obliged to stop anyway in order to 'assist' people across a two-lane road.

In supermarket car parks, you will see battalions of these people 'directing' cars towards parking spaces that are directly in front of them. You can often spot them at a distance by the huge traffic jams that are inevitably created.

Yet no-one bats an eyelid because they are just doing their job and the alternative is... well... England.

I do, however, have problems with the urinal scrubber ladies who insist on doing their jobs, right next to you, even when the 'gents' is obviously over-crowded with men who need to go.

Harsher observers may say that this is just the satisfaction of a normal Japanese fetish...

And having seen some of the scrubbers' compatriots' videos on the internet, I might be forced to agree. But more of that in a later column. Possibly.

Anyway, manners are exemplary too.

Despite the paper-thin walls in the vast and overcrowded housing blocks, practically no domestic disputes arise.

Furthermore, for a country where people smoke everywhere, smokers walking along the streets will almost always carry their own ashtrays (you can already buy two different official World Cup versions of these) around to avoid ash hitting the pavement.

Urban parks benefit from such manners too.

Dogs are popular here but due to a lack of space they tend to be of the small lapdog variety; you will often see people walking immaculately and sometimes bizarrely coiffed bundles of fluff wearing ornate clothes and occasionally sunglasses (the dogs, not the people).

There's none of your average Brit's constant worrying about stomping on dogs' eggs in urban parks here.

The offending ordure will most likely not even hit the ground due to the owner catching it in a bag beforehand. This is a truly lovely sight to behold, especially when it occurs within two metres of you while you're having a picnic.

But when was the last time anyone you know played footy in a city park without having to negotiate the odd dog toffee cigar?


Essential Japanese Phrase Of The Week
In Japanese: "Mo hitotsu kudasai!"
Translation: "One more, please!"

Interesting Japanese Word Of The Week
"Wankyoku." Not an insult, it means "a curve"

Mentalist Website Of The Week
A catalogue of Japanese jobs: http://www3.tky.3web.ne.jp/~edjacob/useless.htm

11-04-2002, 04:33 PM
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so...