Feeling The Special Japanese Strangeness

        Maybe Iím getting old all of a sudden, but Japan feels like the oddest place Iíve been. Itís so distinctly ultra-developed but nonwestern; itís unlike anything Iíve seen before. Yeah, thereís Starbucks, McDonaldís, and all the other globalized shit here, too, but development doesnít equal westernization, as it seems to most everywhere else Iíve been.
        I pay for another night at the pod, more out of slightly hungover laziness than desire to spend another night in its womblike, plastic embrace. I was excited for Japan sword, Tokyoís one-stop samurai sword shop. This was misplaced but not unfounded: I thought Iíd be picking up a badass wall decoration for a pre-imposed maximum of $200, but instead Iím learning about works of art, some of which were forged in the 1200s and cost over 20 MILLION yen (>$150,000). Fun fact of stupid bureaucrats: machine-made samurai steel blades cannot be sold within Japan, as theyíre considered weapons. However, hand-forged blades, which are actually harder and just as sharp, are considered works of art and a-OK. Definitely an expensive wall decoration to consider if I ever have large amounts to waste/ĒinvestĒ in art.
        Sonyís store, in the posh Ginza district, is more an advertisement to live a Sony life than an actual retail establishment. Forget about price and a bevy of incompatible formats...
        Akihabara, aka ďElectric Town,Ē is special in geekdom: itís the neighborhood to get the latest electronics in a country renown for its gadgets. Itís by no means a bargain, but it is interesting to see. Big, bulky cell phones have a variety of cool features like screens that flip every which way, fingerprint readers, legit MP3 players, and other things itíll probably take a year to get in the U.S. And lots of anime, even a coffee shop called Cos Cha with waitresses dressed like characters and tiny desks as seats, like in an old-school or cartoon classroom.
        Akihabaraís so cool that I get to sumo right too late: people walking out from the last match as I went to buy a ticket in. no matter: Iíll try again to see the big diapers tomorrow.
        Shibuyaís basically an area of town thatís a big mall. Iím not sure thereís anything besides shops, restaurants, bars, and arcodes there. I try all but the bars, with a strange sell-all called Tokyu Hands, tasty sashimi (=raw fish; I think itís different from sushi in that sushi has rice or whatever attached to it), and a few shooting videogames in the smoky, multi-story, anime-infested zoos that are Japanese arcades.
        I know itís about time to take a break from my break by how engrossed I am with the imported books at Tower Records. I will always love traveling intensely, but it isnít always balanced or easy.

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