December 11, 2012

That's A Wrap

I set out today to start Christmas shopping and wound up with some rather nice gifts. They happened to all be for myself, but they say the greatest gift is giving, so by both giving and receiving a present at the same time, I'm killing two birds with one stone, right?

If I haven't complained about the amount of wrapping and packaging here in Japan, allow me to do so now:

I went to go get a chicken kabob from a deli (actually it was つくね, which is like a chicken hamburger on a skewer aka heaven), which is a transaction that should at the most result in a receipt and a napkin. MAYBE a plastic/paper bag for the skewer, but when I'm motioning for the thing, just give it to me. Well after I pointed to the skewer, the lady grabbed a plastic box, placed the skewer in the box, wrapped a rubber band around the box, placed that inside of a small plastic bag, tapped the bag closed, then put that in a carrying bag and taped the top of the bag so as to avoid the skewer flying out should I decide to wildly swing my meat about. To make matters worse, there are no trashcans in Japan, so for the entire day I was stuck with all that trash.

Not that bad, you say?

Well then how about this:

When I set out in the morning, I stopped by the super market to grab a banana. What's fantastic about the banana is the ready-to-purchase packaging that mother nature has created, also known as a peel. Well in true Japanese fashion...
So now I've got my skewer packaging AND a banana bag, not to mention the peel. You can see why I needed some retail therapy after such stressful events.

The purchases were leather gloves and long underwear, two items I will never need in Los Angeles. The key to leather gloves, in my opinion, is to find a pair that don't scream "I'm about to murder you." Hard to describe exactly what the difference is between a pair of gloves that is sensible and a pair that is dangerous, but you just know when you put them on. With each pair I tried, I made a strangling motion, much to the horror of the woman helping me, but it was a necessary step in the process of determining the right pair. 

I had a pleasant wander through Shinjuku and Harajuku but wasn't able to find anything that screamed "I'd make a good Christmas present for ____". Or maybe the problem was everything screamed "present." I've been here two months and am still overwhelmed by how much stuff there is for sale in Tokyo. It makes sense though when you consider how often presents are given. In the short time I've been here I've already received 2 dozen gifts from people. Hard to believe the Japanese economy isn't doing well considering how many people spend their days shopping. During my wanders I passed a number of Japanese school girls who clearly wanted to ask me to take a photo with them (7) but I must have been too intimidating. Maybe it was the leather gloves? During my last two trips to Japan, it's been non-stop schoolgirl love, but the attention has been minimal this time. Have I lost my mojo? 

Evening came and I heard from Catherine, who I had texted earlier, and discovered that she was doing some Christmas shopping in the area as well. Small town of 13 million people... I tracked her down and then we made our way to get some food. Unlike American malls, the restaurants at the food courts in Japan are surprisingly good, albeit a little tacky. How, you ask? Well there was an American themed burger place next to where we ate that was displaying this out front:
Yeehaw! Guns and Steak!
I do think they were really able to capture the essence of America though with minimal effort. Surprisingly, Catherine did not want to dine there... Maybe it was that mysterious green drink.

Before parting ways we came across some sort of mood-ring statue. A person or couple could stand below the structure and place their hands on the podiums in order to light up the beams. Different colors represented different moods, which seemed a little invasive considering everyone in the area would be able to tell what mood you were in. It's like a fortune teller with a bullhorn.
Catherine was blue, which meant she was in the mood to listen to Eiffel 65
I was also blue, which meant the thing didn't actually work
These guys got rainbow colored, which I assume means they're gay.

Catherine doing an impression of her friend who is the hand that pokes the Pillsbury Doughboy. How's that for a claim to fame?!
When I returned home I decided to finish a goal I had started a few nights earlier: the rubik's cube (65). When first I came to Kelly's apartment, I found the cube, which she informed me was causing her troubles. I remembered being a toddler and being given one by my dad who told me he'd give me $20 if I could solve it. Even at the age of 7 I considered going to the store, buying a new one, showing it to him and then collecting the $20, figuring it would cover the expense of the replacement cube. Well I no longer have to lie because after a few nights of stress, I finally did it! Pay up, dad!
Night 1: Meeting my opponent
Off to a good start!
And I lost it...
It took 20 minutes to counter my fuck-up, so I was calling it a night
Night 2: After some advice from Aziz, I was able to complete the second layer
And I lost it....
One hour later, back to where I was
It  only took 2 days, 3 hours, and countless YouTube tutorials
Perhaps a cheap goal in a list of otherwise interesting and unique challenges, but considering my biggest accomplishment of the day previous to the completion of the cube was finding long underwear long enough for my legs, I'll take it!

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