Thursday, April 14, 2005

Japan Budget

by Kristin

I've realized that I really need to put myself on a budget here. I'm supposed to be saving money. However, I'm already thinking about a few large purchases. Not to mention that Japan is SUPER expensive (i.e. one cantaloupe can go for anywhere from $10 to $100; I tried on a pair of pants that cost over $700; I bought two cds from a Tower Records for over $40...with all of that said, I am finding second hand clothing stores, reasonable restaurants and 100 yen shops - 100 yen is roughly equivalent to $1)!!!

I had heard that Japan was expensive as well, but once again seeing is believing. I've come from the land of year round sunshine; laid back people; cheap, spicy food; cheap clothes (just about cheap everything) whose motto could be "Mai Pen Rai" (no worries!) to the land of harsher, seasonal weather; more rigid/rule bound people; expensive, bland food; expensive clothes (just about everything is expensive) whose motto could be "Kanpai" (keep fighting...don't give up!). All of these things contributed to my culture shock in the beginning.

However, I'm slowly realizing that I'm no longer in Thailand and I've got to find things about this culture to enjoy as well. And I am!!! Every day I'm liking Hiroshima more and more. There is so much quirkiness here. I love such things as seeing GQ looking business men reading manga comics (characters with big eyes that Japanese anime (animation) is known for) in the convenient stores OR seeing everyone riding bicycles....even those GQ looking business men OR seeing adults on these funky, small framed bikes with high seats that look like they would belong in a circus or to a kid OR seeing the crazy, cutesy bunny, frog, Hello Kitty creatures on tv, all kinds of products, etc. OR having to wait at a crosswalk until the sign indicates that I can walk (I'm still not used to such orderliness after living in such a chaotic city as Bangkok!) OR all of the different fashions (i.e. the goth girls, the baby doll girls...yes, they dress like baby dolls, the lacey, Victorian clad women complete with lacey parasols and all, the road warrior chicks (as A.J. refers to them)...they were wearing chest pads, knee pads, dark makeup, etc., the hip hop fashion, etc. etc. (I think my favorite are the women who sport a hairdo that looks like they've come from a prom back in the 70's...

I've also seen some really curly, fro styled hair with definite shades of the 80's by the looks of their clothes) OR having people keep speaking Japanese to me when I tell them I don't understand (i.e. this man came up to me one day wanting to record an interview with me; I still have no clue as to what he was wanting me to say or why; when I told him I wasn't understanding and he still kept shoving the recorder in my face, I just said who I was and why I had come to Japan; who knows, maybe my voice will end up on one of the crazy animal shows I was describing earlier as part of an English lesson ?!) OR finding a shop with nothing but Monchhichis (I remember having one of those little stuffed monkeys when I was younger; I even remember the song...Monchhichi, monchhichi, so soft and cuddly...).


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