“Is it that the elderly get upset?”

A shot of Tokyo from the Tokyo Towers. It was a while back when I went to the Towers, but I noticed that I haven’t posted any pictures on the recent posts, and I thought that it was about time.

I am at that point, I suppose, where I rarely take out my camera because it’s not as new as the first month or so. I still go to new places, but I just rarely think to take out the camera. I almost did today while I was in Shibuya because there was yet another right-wing rally happening near the entrance of the station. I’ve seen a few others, where a van is parked in front of a major train station and a guy is standing on the top of the van with a megaphone, or a microphone. Shinjuku, Shibuya, Tokyo station — these are areas with huge clusters of young people in them. However, it sure does seem like the majority of the people just keep walking by or just ignore them. The populace does not seem to be engaged much with demonstrations. I mean, barely any eye contact. A few people were taking pictures on their I-phones, but that was about it.

Then again, this is still from an outsider’s perspective. Don’t know enough of the language to have any real insight. And even if I did, it would take even more investigating. The language is just that way. It’s the ultimate polite language. “I can see where you’re coming from…” or “I agree with you, but…” or “that’s true, isn’t it? However,…” is so common. And the amount of times in a day that you say some form of excuse me, I’m sorry, I’m being rude, forgive me, I would like to ask a question, but… , is, well, a lot. When you think of it in some sort of English translation it sounds kind of strange:  “I’d like to ask you something but…(is it alright?)” You can, essentially, say “excuse me” when someone gives you change back at a restaurant, or any time there’s a transaction where you’re doling out cash. It replaces “thank you” or softens the tone by not being boastful.

As always, the language books have funny phrases that I can’t help but share with y’all. This is actually from my PSU language book:

“Is it that the elderly get upset?”

“(It is that) the elderly do get upset (don’t they)!”

It’s a strange phrase set against other ones that sound normal. At the very least it sounds like this language author maybe had a few unpleasant experiences dealing with old Japanese people.

As you can read, I don’t really have that much to say. My life and schedule have become a bit more normalized. There’s almost something like a routine now. There are new places here and there that I go to, but most of my days can’t be days to explore since there needs to be homework-doing on those days. So, I usually hit up the same coffeeshops in Shinjuku. While not a fan of Starbucks normally, I have found that they tend to be the best coffeeshops for studying. They have larger tables and more room and seem to not be too worried about how long you stay there. Starbucks coffee is the same everywhere you go, apparently, so it’s bitter and burnt…but strong. It’s expensive as shit here in Tokyo (with the exchange rate, I’m guessing it’s about $5 for a Grande). Even more expensive than that is a Matcha Green Tea Latte, but they are damn good. If you like green tea ice cream, then you’d like this. It’s basically hot, foamy green tea ice cream. Depending on who you are, that last sentence is either going to make you think “that sounds delicious” or “that sounds fucking disgusting.”

I usually don’t think in terms of dollars because I realized that it was just gonna drive me crazy. You have to think “that’s a good deal in yen,” rather than “I can’t believe I’m spending twenty dollars on a plain white tee shirt.” I saw a picture of a canteloupe that was wrapped up in fancy paper, and the price tage read 100,000 yen: basically, a hundred and thirty or forty dollars for some special canteloupe. It’s from some area up north? Or, it’s imported….either way, an imported canteloupe can’t be that fucking expensive, and how special can a single melon be from any place in the world? I’m guessing it’s just  a gratutious show of wealth from the asshole that buys it. 

On the other hand, for being a city like Tokyo there’s a suprising number of really cheap eats here. And they’re good. Sure, there’s Macdonald’s, but there are other cheap eateries that have amazing food for the price. Straightforward food that seems relatively healthy, and is just as fast as any fast food. And what’s more, you can just put money into a vending machine, push the button with the picture that looks good, grab the ticket that it spits out, hand it to the cook, and five minutes later your eating good. You don’t need to bullshit with a waitperson; you can just eat and get the fuck out. Brilliant.

The clothing store that I frequent, Uniqlo, is the equivalent of American Apparel in the U.S., but in my opinion better quality. I believe it’s actually cheaper, too. And even thinking of purchases in dollars is okay at a place like Uniqlo. This must be the secret to it’s success — and they are successful. There is a Uniqlo is every major train station and in just about every department store. I’ve probably been in over twenty different branches of Uniqlo, and surely there are so many more. I don’t know what the comparison would be in the U.S. because I don’t know of any store that is as prevalent. I’ve gone and bought enough items that I am sometimes self-conscious that I stand out as a Uniqlo-whore: “Oh, is that scarf and that hoodie and that sweater and those thermals and those jeans all from Uniqlo? Oh, your underwear and socks, too? Don’t worry, you barely notice, barely notice.” While I’d like to shop at other clothing stores,…it’s Tokyo. It’s a fashion capital. The store I went to the other day, called “Topman,” has a DJ spinning records (every day from what I’ve been told), and they have coats and jeans and sweaters that are all in the hundreds of dollars range. And that’s probably even cheap for Tokyo clothing stores. Still, it’s at least fun to window shop. People are bold here with their fashion choices, which is actually comforting.

Well, rambling on. Haven’t gotten around to posting those videos that I mentioned in the last post. Maybe next time?



4 responses to ““Is it that the elderly get upset?”

  1. I can one hundred per cent see the reasoning (and linguistic gulf) that leads to a fashion store being named “Topman.” Consider the late, somewhat lamented “Butch’s -For Sir!” in Astoria and the premier nightclub in Tokyo in the late ’80’s, which was called “Ducky Duck.”

  2. I’m going to impress you with my intellectual ramblings (HEH. J/K): Love the Green Tea Latte! And Green tea ice cream. Mochi are my favorite way to eat it. Yum.
    Also, Uniqlo is awwwwwwwwwwesome. I wish they would open an online store for America. NY is the only US city to have a store, and you can’t buy online. Love the heat tech stuff.
    Good luck with school! Language is tough — getting older doesn’t make you less likely to learn the language, but it means you could have more difficulty hearing it correctly, (depending on how ‘sound’ your auditory receptors are) which influences your ability to learn it ‘correctly’. Just be sure to wear earplugs at all those big concerts! (I know, super dorky, right?)
    I’ve been trying to ride my bike this winter (it’s been pretty dry) so by the time you get back, maybe we’ll be in the same sort of riding shape. Unless, you’ve been doing long rides in Tokyo? 😉

    • Have you been to Japan before? Maybe you’ve already told me this.

      I saw online that New York has a Uniqlo. And yeah, the Heat Tech is pretty amazing. At first I thought “Well, these are a bit thin for thermals,” but they still manage to keep me warmer than other kinds of thermals. Japanese sizes also fit me a lot better, so that’s another bonus for clothes shopping.

      The language thing comes in waves: somedays I feel really excited about it and want to study and learn, other days I feel completely defeated. Somedays I just want to scream “Don’t act like you didn’t understand my ‘konnichi-wa’ motherfucker!”

      No real bike riding for me. I’ve been missing it a bit. I walk everyday, so my legs are getting stronger, but the only bike riding has been a few times on a clunky ‘grandma’ bike that didn’t fit me. Really fun though; no helmet and dodging people in crosswalks. I’ll want to definitely get back into riding my bike when I return.

  3. Hello, Mr. Pocky! Sorry it’s taken me so long to write something, but I’ve been following your blog all the while. Hang in there with the language classes. You’re definitely not alone with the love/hate relationship of the language. I experienced that time and time again. As far as Kanji is concerned, I’ve never met anyone who’s been “Fuck yeah! Kanji!!! I can’t wait,” and what really makes things shitty, is that most Japanese use a fraction of the characters you’ll probably learn.

    I’ve been talking to mom and it seems she’s a bit anxious about having to speak Japanese to your homestay family. It cracks me up to no end!
    Greyson and Allison say “Hello.” Take care!

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