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Archive for January, 2007

More Strange Product Names

January 29th, 2007 at 06:07 pm

As I walked quickly through the store yesterday, I looked for some more names of products that probably wouldn't make it too well in the US (there are plenty in Japan).

In the comments of Calpis, scfr suggested I introduce those that don't know to Pocari Sweat:



I came across some chocolates with the name Asse:



and sometimes I wonder if the Japanese just accidentally use the wrong word. This is for a snack called Leafy, but it seems to me what they wanted to call it was Flaky:



I'm sure I'll come across more to share...

Clocks

January 28th, 2007 at 09:33 pm

One thing that I have noticed is that there are a lot of clocks in Japan. I wonder if it is part of the being on schedule attitude that the public transportation runs by? Unlike in the US where you can be in a jam if you don't wear a watch, practically anywhere you go you can find a clock in Japan.



I found this clock at the top of a hill at a scenic view spot. If I had been in the US, I would have questioned what a clock was doing at a scenic view spot, but not in Japan. It seemed perfectly normal.

Of course, now that I have made the connection that there are a lot of clocks, I'm starting to see them even more. Maybe it's time I gave up my watch Wink

Pottery

January 27th, 2007 at 06:14 pm

One of the things that I really enjoy about Japan is the arts. In the area where I live, there is a lot of pottery made. Often times the pottery makers will set up tented booths at shrines and sell their wares. It's always a joy to walk through and see all the items they have for sale and they are almost always reasonably priced if there is something that catches my eye

Vending Machine Can Stickers

January 25th, 2007 at 10:37 pm

One thing about Japan is that it is a land of vending machines. And the cans that often come out of those machines have stickers on them for prize contests. Basically, you collect so many stickers from the cans, send them in and if your card is drawn, you win a prize.

While I get a few hundred dollars worth of stuff from these contests every year, I don't spend a cent (or yen in my case) collecting these stickers.

I have gotten into the habit of picking up cans thrown on the street and throwing them away properly (an old habit taught to me by my father to always leave any place you go better than when you arrived). If those cans have a sticker on it (which they often do), I take it as my payment for cleaning up.



The prizes in Japan can be quite good -- my winter coat, spring jacket and portable CD player are all prizes just to name a few. So in the end I get some good exercise (walking), make the area a bit cleaner, and get cool things for my effort. Seems like a good deal to me.

Calpis

January 24th, 2007 at 09:37 pm

There are some things in Japan that will never be popular in the US because of their name. There are a huge number of examples, but here is one from a recent trip to the store:



It's a drink called Calpis (say it out loud and what does it sound like?)

Graffiti

January 22nd, 2007 at 08:19 pm

One thing that you don't see a whole lot of in Japan is graffiti (at least in comparison to similar sized cities in the US and Europe). I think it's a combination of less people doing it as well as better clean-up when it does occur. So I was a bit surprised when I came across this piece under a walkway on my walk this morning.



While a lot of people consider graffiti to be an art form (and there is some graffiti that I believe is well done), for the most part I think it's nothing more than an eyesore. It also costs a lot of taxpayer's money to clean it up which means the money isn't available for other things.

Strange Banner Advertising

January 21st, 2007 at 07:24 pm

One thing that you see in Japan as you go down streets is a lot of banner advertising. Many stores, gas stations, car dealers, etc fly banners in front of their storefront to attract customers. On my walk this morning, I found these banners advertising something that caught me a bit off guard: grave site plots.





It just seems kind of tacky to be flying these signs over the graves of people, but maybe it's just me...

Sake Barrels

January 20th, 2007 at 10:14 pm

On our trip to the God of Wealth shrine yesterday, there was a whole section where companies had left offerings of barrels of rice wine to Ebisuten (the god of wealth) for the coming year. All the barrels piles upon one another made for a pretty impressive display...

Light Bulb In Nature

January 20th, 2007 at 06:07 am

One of the funny things about Japan is how often technology is so close to nature. I tried to capture it in this photo with a bare light bulb hanging outside in the middle of a beautiful shrine garden - didn't come out quite as I hoped, but does give a glimpse...

Chocolate Extreme: 99% Cacao

January 19th, 2007 at 04:27 pm

I like dark / bitter chocolate and the cacao craze has definitely hit Japan. I was in the store the other day and saw bars of 99% cacao being sold. Even though I do love dark chocolate, I'm not sure even my taste buds could handle something like that...

Concrete Nature Trail

January 19th, 2007 at 06:49 am

I was wandering around when I came across this nature trail through a bamboo grove near our house. What I found interesting is that the steps and fencing along the trail, although they may appear to be wood, are actually concrete painted to look like wood.



Now I can't remember ever seeing something like this in the US, but after my initial shock, I can see there are some financial benefits to doing it this way. The concrete will last much longer than wood ever would and that means less repairs and manpower needed to maintain the trail.

Still, it's a bit strange to be walking through a beautiful natural area with concrete logs under your feet and a concrete fence to your side...

Utilizing Space

January 18th, 2007 at 03:40 pm

One thing that I notice in Japan is that they utilize the space they have much better than we do in the US. On this morning's walk, I came across a building where they had converted the rooftop into several tennis courts where they were conducting classes. Not something you would likely see in the US

Pepsi Gold

January 18th, 2007 at 12:53 am

Since I don't drink soda anymore, I'm not familiar with the latest releases so this may not be anything exciting to you. During my trip to the store I came across Pepsi Gold which caught my eye because if it's color.



I was tempted to try it, but decided I wasn't going to get into that habit again. Anyone ever try it?

Fire Hydrant

January 17th, 2007 at 06:23 pm

One of the things that I love about living in Japan is some things are so different than you'd see in the US. Take fire hydrants, for example.







In our neighborhood, they also store fire equipment in boxes along the main streets.



From a taxpayer standpoint, I'm not sure this is the most efficient way to do it, but it shows that even basics like emergency services work a bit differently in other countries.

One Man's Junk...

January 16th, 2007 at 08:06 pm

We end up getting a lot of our stuff off the street in Japan. Because houses are small and space is limited, when something new comes in, the old stuff usually gets put out even if it is still in perfect condition. On my walk this morning I found this on the side of the road:





Town Over The Clouds

January 15th, 2007 at 06:06 pm

On my daily morning walk, I came across this sculpture entitled "Town Over The Clouds"





This is another example of the random art that can me found in Japan - this sculpture is located on a fairly busy street that hardly anyone walks on meaning that it probably isn't appreciated by many. Not sure why these are set up in strange places like this - would seem more appropriate for a park or something...

Small Town In The Big City

January 14th, 2007 at 05:20 pm

One of the things I do love about Japan is the honesty which still can be found even when not in the countryside. Vegetable stands where the fresh vegetables have been left with just a sign saying how much to pay for them (there is nobody watching over them) are much more common in the countryside, but still can be found in city areas too. This is one that I walked by today:



The sign says that the vegetables are 100 yen each (about $1) which may sound expensive, but is less than you could get them from the local grocery store here. To the right you can see the tube where the money should be placed - it is simply duct taped on so anyone could take it if they wanted.

It's nice to see this type of honesty when it comes to money. Not many urban areas in the US where this would work.

One of the reasons I enjoy wandering around Japan is I love coming across things like this Smile

Manhole Cover Art

January 14th, 2007 at 12:13 am

As you might imagine, there are a lot of differences between Japan and the US. One interesting thing is that the manholes in Japan are often decorated in a theme of the city where they are. Here are a few that I came across today while walking to the store:









Obviously, having these specially made is more expensive that getting a generic cover. Is this a good use of taxpayer money in your opinion or would it be better used in other areas?