(HIM ●) During our experiences here in Japan we have coined a name for the way most Japanese operate in general, but most apparently in the urban environment. We call it the Japanese Follower Mentality. If you look closely enough on Japanese streets and modern culture you will find it everywhere around you. Japanese entertainment, fashion, and business, its everywhere. A great example is idol groups such as AKB 48. Where on earth do you find people following so called idol groups just because everybody else is following them? Where does fashion come and go like seasons based on popular consensus as fast as in Japan? Everybody follows everybody else and it seems that there is a follower mentality among the masses which affects everybody. For the media, the Japanese masses as a whole could be considered as a living breathing organism!
Initially we saw this interesting behavior on the streets. If there is a street performer without an audience, nobody will join in unless there is an innovator who stands by for the show, most of the times this is the case. In Japan you will see lines that span street blocks in length for a food stall but most of the times we wonder, do these people even know what they are lining up for or are they just lining up because they saw a long line to start with, which might indicate that there is something good at the end of the line.
This is something good to think about, how does this mentality affect business and marketing in Japan?
Wearing a yukata on my own ended up taking me 2 hours!
Wearing a yukata on your own is very difficult in general. It takes years of experience or a couple of lessons from a professional. That's why most people go to a professional to get that perfect look! If it's on your own, the yukata could look "darashinai" (which means sloppy, messy and loose). You need to know the perfect length of the yukata or the perfect amount of opening behind the neck, so that it looks classy and beautiful to show off Japanese tradition!
Since I am not a professional when it comes to kimonos or yukatas, I felt very worried and embarrassed walking in the yukata that I wore myself, especially when I walked by an old lady who looked so elegant in her yukata. Is the length of my yukata right? Does it look sloppy on me? Am I walking correctly? These questions were constantly going through my head.
The video below may help if you are trying on your own.
The Bon Odori festival in Minato Mirai was a great success. Everyone was smiling, the atmosphere was very peaceful. Everybody can join the circle to experience Bon Odori (Japanese festival dancing) ! They also play each song twice so you can learn it the first time and join the second time! People of all ages are in the circle dancing, so it's an amazing experience for every single person.
Japan is a paradise if you love PENS, PENCILS, ERASERS, GLUE, NOTEBOOKS...STATIONERY!!!(Stationery = Bun-bou-gu in Japanese)
There used to be thousands of bun-bou-gu shops in Yokohama. There used to be one on Motomachi street which has now disappeared. An old man owned the shop. Once you stepped into the shop you would smell the old wood. No AC in the summer of course. Just a fan in the corner of the tiny shop. You would hear it running very loudly - it must have been years old. When I was a little girl I used to go to these traditional shops to buy stationery. As I grew up, I started to go to large department stores such as Tokyu Hands and Loft.
In Boston, I can never find pens that are comfortable and smooth. In Japan, they have different kinds of pens made for different people with different writing habits. If you like fat pens, thin pens, multi coloured pens, stylish pens, classy pens, customizable pens...Any pen! I am sure you will find the pen just right for you here in Japan.
Pens I find in Boston are usually very cheap and boring. I also find that people I have met in Boston don't really care about how the pen looks on you when you write, what your handwriting looks like when you write with a specific pen, what colours you use to take notes. Most Japanese students (especially girls) do care about such things!
There were 3 additional stalls similar to the photographs located in the stationery section.
The price of a regular consumer grade pen can start from 100 YEN to about 10,000 YEN in this store. They are all worth investing in!
I'm not sure where to start...So we created a simple and short video instead.
To sum things up Summer Land has a lot of potential, but not when it is crowded. We were stunned at the amount of people hoarding the pools and all of the other facilities at all times of the day. The short clip above stars the wave pool where an artificial tide is created for several iterations between about an hour interval. In between these intervals the pool seems like a regular but substantially crowded pool. Just before a new set of waves people start crowding the pool until complete saturation. We looked at the waves of people with shock and could not believe people actually enjoyed being in there! It was quite a view!
We thought it was funny how life guards were warning people not to go under the water with their goggles since there have been many cases of people looking at women's intimates.
Saturday night RedBull organized a parkour event called Art of Motion, they have a site with all of the information. Unfortunately it got postponed for the next day due to the rain. Today is Sunday and we were able to witness the event, it was awesome. I will probably compile the best shots at a later time, but for know I will upload a few images.
Went to watch Harry Potter 7 Part 2 last night. The movie was great, but more than just the movie, we enjoyed the experience itself rather than the movie.
There are a few movie theaters in Minato Mirai, the place we are staying. 109 Cinemas, Warner Mycal Cinemas, and Burg 13. We found that Warner Mycal Cinemas was offering the cheapest price. 109 was offering 1800YEN + 400YEN for 3D. Warner was offering 1200YEN (for any movies after 8PM) + 300YEN for 3D + 100YEN for 3D glasses. 109 also has late night prices but only for movies starting after 12AM.
We decided to be stingy and go for the 2D Harry Potter, spending only 1200YEN :)
So those of you who love popcorn and sodas during a movie, sizes are extremely small if you compare it to the US, even if you get the largest size. Also if you are like me who loves butter on popcorn, Japanese movie theaters do not have stalls with butter dispensers like the theaters in the US. You have to ask the employee for butter.
Upon entering the theater, the first thing I thought which was amazing and new was Warner Mycal Cinema's "VIRUS WASHER". Using water, the air inside the whole theater is cleaned. Viruses, allergies, smell, all GONE! :)
(Him)● The virus washer was quite amazing, once we entered the theater room it felt like we were transported to a tropical rainforest with 100% humidity. We loved it. In Japan the phone service providers install an earthquake service on every cell phone which alerts users of incoming earthquakes. When an earthquake is expected to happen the phones receive a signal and they go off with a warning of the affected area, magnitude and sometimes a countdown of the estimated impact time based on where your phone is, which is sometimes really creepy and quite accurate. About halfway through the movie an earthquake hit and nobody's phone went off, they actually put their phones on silent or turn them off!
Finally the most unexpected thing happened at the end of the film. People actually stay for the credits. In the US we are used to most people if not everybody standing up and leaving as soon as the credits start rolling through the screen...this is not the case in Japan. People actually stay seated, lights off, silent, everything until the very very end. This was quite amazing and unexpected so beware if you have a middle of the row seat as you will be lucky if anybody stands up.
(HER) ● I love to use Groupon when I am back in Boston. Since I am also registered to Groupon Japan, I usually get e-mails with great deals that always make me wish that I am back home in Japan.
My mother told me a few days ago "I want to get my nails done one day!", I told her "Use Groupon, they have amazing deals for nails/haircuts/spas."
After downloading the Japanese Groupon iPhone app she tells me:
"It has 2 stars as its rating...Are you sure about this?"
After reading a few reviews we find out that apparently Groupon is very unpopular in Japan because of a mistake they made in January 2011. They were offering deals for "Osechi" , which is Japanese traditional new years food in boxes. Every single dish that is included in the boxes have special meanings which represent good luck and happiness.
The deal was from Bird Cafe and offered Osechi boxes for only 10,000 yen which usually cost 20,000 yen!
Please take a look at the pictures from http://www.geocities.jp/gurupon7/ below...
<- The ad on Groupon that time
These are the pictures of the actual boxes that were delivered to people.
These were taken once they were open, not after eating a bit of it :p
Osechi boxes are meant to be full and gorgeous just like the pictures on the ads!
According to the article, the company not only delivered boxes like this, they also delivered late (which is terrible because we traditionally eat osechi on new years day and a few days after that)!
The CEO of "Bird Cafe" resigned..
And unfortunately Groupon now has a bad reputation here in Japan.. :(
(Her)●Ramen (noodle) museum. You can experience different bowls of ramen from famous restaurants in a showa period environment. You can get in the museum for only 300 yen (like $3.80) and enjoy various bowls at your own expense. They offer mini ramen bowls for those who want to get a taste of many bowls only for 500 - 600 yen. Yum! We ended up getting quite full with one mini bowl but forced a second mini bowl - because you just can't resist it! Those with an appetite (the boys in our group) could have probably had another mini bowl though. Yum! You can also get a yearly pass so you can enjoy the museum for lunch if you work nearby. Nice idea!
The typical soups that Japanese ramen stores usually offer are tonkotsu (pig bone) soup, shoyu (soy sauce) soup, shio (salt) soup, and miso soup! Different regions in Japan have different specialities when it comes to ramen. For example, Hokkaido is known for their miso ramen. It will be fun to go around various cities in Japan to taste the differences! By the way, my favorite soup is miso. I love thick and fatty soups!
Popular ramen shops usually have queues lasting for hours every lunch or dinner. I've personally never lined up to eat ramen because I hate queues but I bet it's worth it!
I wonder where the best place to eat ramen is in Yokohama...
Will investigate and update you all later!
(Him)●I have noticed how much Japanese food and entertainment places use the term "all you can...." eat, drink or anything for their businesses. Whether it is at a restaurant, karaoke, izakaya or any place you could think of. It is especially great when you are going out with a group of friends as you don't have to worry about piling up the tab! At least for the amount of time you purchased the all you can eat or drink plan.
All you can drink or eat = a good time out!
Why do you think they don't have these types of all you can drink plans in the US? I would say people go ballistic and aggressive when they drink in the US so they would end up fighting or destroying the place. Japanese people in general are very peaceful and happy when they drink, I am sure there are exceptions, but for the most part this is the case. Or maybe it is a lot easier and cheaper to get a business liquor license in Japan.
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(Him)●Today we went to Sea Paradise. I have only been to a few aquariums before, but this one was way better than the others. More than just an aquarium, a big one at that, Sea Paradise also sports a few interesting rides which unfortunately we did not go on but I had the chance to capture one on film, below see Blue Fall. Just watching it gave me a feeling of vertigo :/ The ride seems to keep accelerating to the last moment then it breaks. The ride is advertised as the tallest free fall tower in Japan, that claim might not still be true as the place has a few years under it's belt.
Talking about deadly rides. I read about a new ride in Fuji-Q, an amusement park near Mt.Fuji. We haven't gone there yet...Check out this video from the ride...it goes more than 90 degrees straight down, in my terms, it goes negative.
Once I figure things out with Flickr I will upload some images in our new Images page from our trip to Sea Paradise.