I just developed my latest roll of pictures. Here is a selected assortment, complete with snarky comments.
Here it is: the first official picture of Alex in Japan. People complained about my earlier pictures because there were none that contained my image. Do you not trust me? Do you think this whole Japan thing is a hoax, and I'm really sitting in a secret U.S. location, surviving off of Easy Cheese and my own sick chuckles of delight when I think about all the people I'm fooling? Well here's the proof you needed... jerks.
This is at Shibuya station, very close to where I work. The statue is Hachiko, a dog who would loyally wait for his master at the station every day at the same time. Good doggy.
Hachiko is probably the most popular place in Tokyo for young people to meet up. I had to wait my turn for the photo op because it was so popular.
And yes, I promise I won't ever do the peace sign in a picture again.
I loved this sign so much, it's almost wrong.
Smoking is an interesting thing in Japan. You can smoke inside of many, many places; I had forgotten all about the "smoking or non-smoking?" question at restaurants until I came here. There's nothing like lighting up a Lucky Strike right after a big, greasy meal.
In crowded areas, however, smoking is discouraged on the street. So, they set up these smoking areas. The metal thing is basically a gigantic ashtray. There are a bunch of different signs in the same vein, but this is my favorite. The helicopter is a nice touch.
Bars here, like in any sane country, serve food, usually a wide selection of salty, fried things that go well with beer.
The menu at this place wraps around the entire bar. It's nothing special, but for somebody used to having nothing but pretzels and peanuts to accompany his beer, it's pretty beautiful.
I especially liked the sound of the "Cram with butter." I can't see how you could go wrong with that.
I had no idea what was going on here, but I decided to take a picture because people seemed generally interested in what was going on, so I assumed I should be too.
There have been many situations where I have nothing to go by but the reactions of others to tell what's going on. It's pretty fun, but a lot of the time, I never figure out what's happening, which can be frustrating.
The police are here basically for giving directions and performing glorified meter maid duties.
I imagine that morale among Japanese police must be low. They never have the opportunity to really flex their muscles. In the U.S., there's always another shirtless asshole around the corner, willing to take on the law with drunken force.
If the police weren't already enough of a joke, this is their symbol: a cuddly woodland creature with no pants.
Check out the dueling DSes! I thought this picture did a good job of capturing the feel of a late-night subway ride here. It's very quiet, and people stick to themselves even more than usual.
People play DS just about wherever they feel like it. I've seen guys riding a bike while playing DS, juggling the stylus, the handlebars, and their own lives.
Pet shops are pretty depressing here. I found this tiny place in the back alleys of Shinjuku. As I stood there, trying to get some shots for my photo-journalistic exposé, a bunch of young Japanese women came up and checked out the animals as well. Among their enthusiastic giggles, the only word I could make out was "Kawaii!" ("cute").
I like the dog in the lower right cell. He also seemed the most distraught by his situation, never taking his eyes off of the pet shop owner, sitting just to the right.
I was pretty depressed about seeing this, but then realized that Japanese people pretty much live the same way. The pet shop owner himself was crammed behind a desk in a tiny capsule of a room.
A snapshot of daily life: my Alien Registration Card; PASMO card with one-month unlimited rides between my station and Shibuya stamped on it; incredibly useless Japanese deodorant; water mug; and of course, a Suntory Whiskey cap.
I got the picture for my ID taken at a photo booth near my house. You can see my excitement about being in Japan in my use of the always-creepy "crazy eyes."
Those crazy Japanese just can't seem to get it right! I know that English is a very foreign language, but they study it for years in school. I'm convinced that most of the "mistakes" they make are intentional; a way to assert the superiority of the Japanese language by making English look silly and juvenile.
I'm not sure what they were going for here, but the place was actually called Bar Pee. It was on the sign and everything. Maybe they're just being honest about the quality of Japanese beer?
In katakana, just above the word "Pee," "pee" is written again, just in case somebody missed it.
Also, here you can see me in my usual work outfit. I love the white shirt/black tie combo; it's such a classic. However, one of the Japanese people at my school informed me that black ties are only worn at funerals in Japan. So what do they think when they get an invitation to a "black-tie event"?
Here's another attempt at some arsty-fartsy photography. I'm happy that I was able to capture the action of the pigeons, especially the one in the middle with its wings fully spread.
When I encountered this, I was surprised that a Japanese person would invite an animal so dirty as the pigeon into his dining establishment. Perhaps he's found a clever way to acquire free, fresh poultry?
More likely, the pigeon is not considered a "winged rat" in Japan. They probably see it as the noble dove it truly is. Cats are seen as a pest here; I've seen cat-repelling scent packets for sale at 100-yen stores... in case you're sick of your leg being rubbed by soft fur?