Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Turning Japanese

My only plan for today was karaoke with my host sister and Mary, another YFU student who lives close to me in Nagoya, but it ended up being so much more. Mary called last night during my host sister's and my tacos party (during which I realized I am the only girl in this country who does not have a very cute boyfriend, husband, fiance, or some other variation of a significant other) and we planned for my host sister an I to meet her at a subway station at 11 AM. Isn't 11 AM a little early for karaoke? It turns out that no, we could have met up earlier and been able to fill the time.

First we had a surprise visit to the mall. My experience with malls in Japan has been pretty boring; the mall near my house is a sleepy, three story mall (one story is a grocery store), where the liveliest shop is the frozen yogurt/tea shop. This mall was more of what I am used to. After a little bit of shopping and topping off my souvenirs for everybody back home we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The dumplings were delicious, and my 'dangerously spicy' tofu was neither of the things it promised it was.
There were a lot of things in this mall that I was not used to, including this guy, who appears to be in the deodorant biz,

crane machines with food inside of them,

and, last and best of all, purikura. The photo booths are the best machines ever invented. You step into them and it's probably four times the size of a Western photo booth, with four or five huge, glowing white lights. The inside is totally green, presumably so that you can use all of the effects. You put 400 Yen into the coin slot, and you pick a little scene or background to take your photo in (three at a time). There are various backgrounds for two or three people, plain patterns, specific poses, basically everything that you can imagine. After taking six unique photos, you go outside to a screen where you can decorate the pictures with cute designs and various pens and, once again, basically everything you can imagine. When you're finished with that part (and the purikura machine has successfully made everyone's eyes gigantic and a little creepy, if you're not Japanese) you have the choice to send to pictures to a cell phone. Finally, after all of that, you get the photo arrangement you chose and can then go cut them up however you like... and they're stickers! Why we don't have purikura in America I don't know, but it needs to be fixed, pronto. Here are a couple of examples:

Purikura was the first amazing Japanese thing that I discovered today. The second was karaoke. The karaoke place that we went to looked more like a hotel lobby or a restaurant at first, complete with a drink bar and menus for both food and karaoke. There were so many options to choose from!

The karaoke room we chose could have held about eight more people, and it had one of the low tables, cushions to sit on, and a well beneath the table to put your feet in. They even had slippers for the customers, but they were about four sizes to small for any of us, even my Japanese host sister.

The videos that played during the songs were hilarious. They were cheaply made and looked like they were made in the 90's (which was perfect for when we sang Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears songs). During 'Hakuna Matata' there were kittens playing for about half of the song.

We spent about four hours at karaoke, but it felt like half of that time. Saeko and I got home just in time for dinner (tonight was sushi) and after dinner I watched ARASHI on some weird game show. The three events that I saw (I didn't see the whole show) were Jungle Bingo, Rolling Coin Tower, Pinball Runner, and a jenga-esque game with a giant robot that I don't remember the name of. In Jungle Bingo, each team had to climb through a jungle gym/maze and open a bingo square when they reached the top, and only two could go at a time. Winner: Jokers (not ARASHI). In rolling coin tower Matsujun, Nino, and two players from the other team took turns stacking big face coins on top of each other as the tower passed by them on a circular conveyor belt. Winner: ARASHI. In Pinball Runner one person had a huge basket strapped to them and they had to run on a conveyor belt to catch balls in their basket, but they couldn't see the balls ahead of time. Instead they had to rely on two team members tell them where the balls would be coming from (there were numbers along the wall to make it easier). Winner: Jokers. Last, there was a giant robot on blocks, and each team removed three blocks per turn. When the robot fell, whichever team removed the last block lost. Winner: Jokers. Finally at the end, since ARASHI lost, everyone was standing on platforms above foam pits and they chose one person to drop into the foam pits. Too bad, Aiba.

In related news, ARASHI released a new single yesterday, 'To Be Free.'

Link: Arashi- To be Free PV


Anonymous said...

Purikura seems like soooo much fun! We should totally have that here! Stupid americans

Katie B said...

Lololol your cat pose in that one picture takes me back to Japan Bowl with Reni what's her face.
Ah, the memories....

Lena Ray said...

There's a lot of purikura in California... but not in Texas. There's a place in Dallas though!

Hahaha that's the first thing I thought of!

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