Ten Observations From Shinjuku
July 28, 2009
1. The most disgusting food item I’ve seen in all of Japan thus far wasn’t pulled from the bottom of the ocean or pickled. It was a hot dog at a 7-11. Yeah, obvious, I know. But this wasn’t your usual convenience store wiener – this was a packaged hot dog. A cold hot dog covered in cold ketchup on a bun wrapped in plastic. Do people actually buy these things?
2. The majority of magazines on sale in Japan seem to be in a similar vein to rags like Maxim: nothing but scantly clad women on the cover. Stranger, though, are the magazines with cartoon women wearing next-to-nothing on the front cover right next to them. Given the choice between pictures of real women and hand-drawn women, wouldn’t you go with the prior? But hey, whatever you’re into…
3. KFC serves beer.
4. An Italian restaurant here is named Miami Garden. Because when I think of Miami, I think of its five-star lasagna.
5. Back in Chicago, all the Olympic bid advertisements featured big photos of athletes playing their sport. In Japan, their bid ads feature a gaggle of anime-ish animals walking towards a lake. I’m pretty confident about which city is going to win out.
6. Nothing is more intimidating than approaching a train station and seeing an endless wave of Japanese people flood out of the station straight at you. Pure terror.
7. They still have Tower Records in Tokyo!
8. The best part of Shinjuku, and what makes it one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to, is how many surprises this place holds. Most major city alleyways are just shady, narrow stretches where nothing happens. Here, every alley seems to hide a new batch of neon signs and storefronts.
9. Whatever is playing on pop radio in America is probably blasting out of stores in Shinjuku. Today I heard Kelly Clarkson and Drake, along with Nickelback blasting out of a Nike store.
10. I fell in love with a girl wearing a Cornelius t-shirt. I had to resist laughing out loud when I walked by a guy wearing an exaggerated hip-hop shirt complete with some bizarre phrase about “going hard to the grave” or something. I nearly did a triple-take after seeing a guy wearing a shirt boasting a Butterfinger candy bar wrapper design with the words “buttfucker” inside the wrapper. Can’t make this stuff up.