What World is This?


The Difference Between the US and Less Developed Countries

We feel so superior to others. We disdain them as less sophisticated than us, or call them “backwards” or “peasants” when we read their stories. We shake our heads knowingly and feel a superior pity towards them.

And we think how awful for those people.

We see a post on Facebook or a segment on the evening news in which nutters from (insert country in strife here) are shouting hateful epithets and beliefs so foreign in concept, we believe them absurd. They wave homemade signs, and they look crazy.

And we think how awful for those people.

Someone sends us a blog post profiling some folks in a faraway land who can’t get a fair shake because their government is so corrupt, so hopelessly broken that it has ground to a halt. Perhaps there’s even a picture of their leader, some grinning despot with eyes lacking humanity.

And we think how awful for those people.

We slide past posts of their environmental disasters as fast as we can because we just can’t read one….single….more story, our guts contracting, and a pervasive sense of futility and helplessness washing over us.

And we think how awful for those people.

We Haven’t Come As Far As We Thought

After spending a Saturday morning perusing the News app on my iPhone, I encountered each scenario above and others that were once-in-a-blue-moon news reports, and I came to the conclusion I don’t understand this world anymore.

Hell, I don’t even recognize it.

They (whomever they are) changed it. They chipped away at it, eroded it bit by bit, these tiny bites not even registering. This pale imitator doesn’t even look like the one I grew up in. I’m not talking about romanticizing your childhood. I’m talking about it’s allllll fucking changed, a world lacking in integrity, compassion, decorum, and some goddamn common courtesy.

We used to do what was right not because we had to but because it was how we were built. We were fair. We respected and upheld the laws. We believed in things.

Not Some Third World Country

I read the news.
I read the stories.
They were sad.
They were infuriating.
They were relentless in their numbers.

And they weren’t about some backwards, easily dismissed country, they were about America.

  • We’ve held prisoners in jail for decades without ever charging them with a crime. They are treated roughly receiving broken bones, concussions, etc. and they’ve NEVER even been charged with a crime much less convicted of one. I hate bad guys too, believe me I do, but I believe in the tenets of our laws and justice system more. You don’t get to keep people in jail forever.
  • Pedophiles and sexual harassers are put up for or are elected to office with impunity. Worse yet is that persons of faith, especially prominent celebrity ministers, publicly excuse or ludicrously explain away this behavior.
  • Our government is in complete disarray with opposite sides warring with each other.
  • The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. The middle class pays for it all.
  • Anger crazed, wide-eyed hate protestors make the news regularly. Our children watch these reports on tv.
  • There is another mass shooting every week.
  • Our environment is an ecological nightmare, a fact hastened along with current federal government roll backs of our hard fought for protections.

And I think how awful for us.

Coca Cola and China


I learned pretty quickly not to drink anything in China that didn’t come in a can. Here are some of my cans. BTW – the pink stuff was supposed to be a yummy treat but was colored tofu in a custard consistency. Very unfun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Bulk Buy Machines


In America you can take a 5 gallon jug to the market and fill it with spring water from a machine. Those wily Japanese take things a step further, and you can do the same thing with your 5 gallon bottle only instead of spring water, you can choose to fill it with miso broth or even green tea!

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The Neighborhood Cemetary in Japan


You’re apt to see them anywhere. A little plat of land that serves as the local cemetary jammed full of headstones all crammed together. Space is such a premium on an island that literally every square inch is accounted for. This particular one was tiny and sat in the corner of the street where I was staying.

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Tasty Clam Snack


If you find yourself in the Aomori, Japan airport and you’re feeling a mite peckish, hit up the convenience shop and have some fresh clams. I watched the guy replenish the tank. Grab a bag. Grab some clams, and voila, you too could sit in front of gate and crack’em open for a tasty delight.

Here’s the guy loading up the tank.

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Here is a side shot of the tank.

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Here they are from the top.

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Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan


This oughtta blow your mind. Tokyo, Japan has a Statue of Liberty just like France and the United States do. Located in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay is Lady Liberty. Apparently back in the 50s or so, France lent theirs to Japan. It became such an awesome tourist attraction that when Japan had to return the borrowed statue back to France, they commissioned one of their very own.

You can get right up next to her so it’s basically a photographer’s wet dream. Now I’m not a very good photographer. In fact, I’m still learning (and have been for a reallllly long time now) but here’s my best recommendations for photography for Japan’s Statue of Liberty. During the day, you’ll most likely need just your camera because you can get right up next to her so your shots should come out tack sharp (unless you’re doing HDR or something like that then you’ll have to mount your camera on a tripod – see tripod notes below.)

If you’re shooting her at night obviously you’ll be on a tripod since you’re working with longer exposures. Do not set up on the walkway right next to her. You can feel every footfall as folks walk up to look at her resulting in ugly camera shake. Off to either side of her and still very very close, you can set up there to shoot Lady Liberty or swing around 90 degrees and shoot the Bay with Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower and all the colorful tourist boats that come out at night (see yesterday’s post to view these pics.)

So here she is below, in all her glory….Tokyo, Japan’s Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

The blog owner with her two best friends ever.

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

The blog owner….always looking for that perfect shot.

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty with Rainbow Bridge and Tower Tower in the background

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

The blog owner – basically this is how she spends her life when she isn’t working…with a camera held up to her melon.

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Statue of Liberty, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay – Odaiba, Japan


Now this was a truly cool place and if you are into photography and going to Tokyo, Japan this location is a must see!! Odaiba, Japan is a “suburb” of Tokyo in the Tokyo Bay area. It’s got awesome shopping, lots of scenic spots overlooking the bay, Rainbow Bridge, colorful tourists boats at night, a Statue of Liberty (yes, you heard me correctly,) and Tokyo Tower off in the distance.

Photographers – bring your longest lenses, good UV filters and your tripods. In my next post, you’ll see the shots I took of the Statue of Liberty there with instructions specifically for shooting it.

Rainbow Bridge with Statue of Liberty in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Rainbow Bridge with Statue of Liberty in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

My view from the Washington Ariake Hotel 16 stories up

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Rainbow Bridge with Tokyo Tower in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Bay Tourist Boats at Night

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Rainbow Bridge with the Tokyo Tower in the background

Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan during the day

Fun in Yoyogi Park


Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

This guy below was busting his best moves all by himself in Yoyogi, something considered perfectly acceptable.
When you live in a country expecting complete conformity, the only acceptable place to be yourself is Yoyogi Park on a Sunday afternoon.

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

NOTICE SHE HAS HER PANTS ON INCORRECTLY – THEY ARE BACKWARDS!!!

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Culture Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

Puroland Review- Hello Kitty’s Amusement Park, Tokyo, Japan


Straight up let me tell you I hated this place with a blazing passion and was super pissed off I spent even 1 yen to visit it (nevermind the $120 it cost for 3 of us which didn’t include the one lousy ride they had – that would’ve cost another $12 a person.)

I’m a chick. I grew up on Hello Kitty. In general, I love cats. Thus going to Puroland was very high on my list. It took all my powers of persuasion to convince the two guys with me to go. I wish I had never left the hotel.

Firstly, it’s an hour away from Tokyo on the Keio Line headed to Tama center.

When you arrive, it certainly seemed promising (ref pic below.)

Puroland is Sanrio's Hello Kitty amusement Park outside Tokyo, Japan.

Puroland is Sanrio’s Hello Kitty amusement Park outside Tokyo, Japan.

When you get to the window you have to choose between a ticket for access to everything or access to everything excluding rides. Note that!! Rides(s)  Rides being the plural of the word Ride indicates more than one ride. In this case, I was hoping for maybe a roller coaster or zipper or other cool stuff like that.

Upon entering the structure, Sanrio pukes Hello Kitty and all her buddies on you bombarding every conceivable sense and after a quick whip around the single hall, you realize that’s all there is.

There is precisely one ride, a slow boat to nowhere, that even the toddlers seemed incredibly bored by.

They had one show going on with some dancers in cat costumes otherwise there was fuck all else.

One hundred twenty dollars, an hour train ride, 48 hours of groveling and begging to go and this was the result.

Basically I just wanted to curl into the fetal position, stick one thumb up my ass, the other in my mouth and cry myself to sleep to dream of all the cocktails or delicious foods I could’ve spent that money on.

Here is who Puroland might be good for:

  • Really old grandmothers who get around on walkers and would be happy to just sit somewhere a while.
  • Girl toddlers aged 2-3 years (ONLY girl toddlers, take a boy toddler here and he will be unconditionally scarred for life.)
  • The guy in the cubicle next to you that you hate with every mortal fiber of your being who steals credit for your work, has a ghastly flatulence problem and to whom you would like to see tortured endlessly by having to sit through a saccharine, grotesquely overpriced Sanrio-centric singing and dancing show.

Final thoughts: Do Not Ever Go To This Place……..Ever.

 

 

This is Yokohama


Yokohama Japan has its own different thing going on. First of all, it’s home to one of my favorite places on Earth, the Ramen Noodle Museum. Not far away is Kamakura, Japan which houses the second largest Buddha statue in Japan. Another thing to know is that it has the second largest Chinatown in the world after…dunh…dunh…daaahhhhh….China! Go figure.

Bust A Move

Tearing up the karaoke at Big Echo in Yokohama Japan

Karaoke in Yokohama Japan

The blog owner at Big Echo Karaoke in Yokohama Japan

Shinyokohama

Inside the Prince ShinYokohama Hotel

Yokohama Japan

Yokohama Japan

Prince Shinyokohama Hotel

Prince Shinyokohama Hotel

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Chinatown in Yokohama Japan

Yokohama Japan

View from 46 stories up in the Prince ShinYokohama’s restaurant called the “Top of the World.”

Yokohama Japan

View from 46 stories up in the Prince ShinYokohama’s restaurant called the “Top of the World.”

Yokohama Japan

The Top of the World

Yokohama Japan

It’s called the “China Blue” and it’s so yummy!!!

Yokohama Japan

No it’s not a urinal. This is the ice machine and water fountain in the hotel corridor. Don’t pee in it!!!

Yokohama Japan

Ramen Noodle Museum-Yokohama Japan