Day 2 in Japan: Frolicking in Shinjuku with Abilities Gained from Anime

Today I met most of the other members of the seminar. There’ re still about 6-7  more missing, since they aren’t due to arrive until tomorrow. Basically, there are 3 tall white guys who almost look identical but are not genetically related. I was like "Why do white guys all look the same?" and couldn’t differentiate them (in the end, I went with their shirt colour, but tomorrow I’ve gotta go through this again). There were a harem group of four Koreans, one male and 3 females. A white Harvard girl who looks like a somewhat-unphotoshopped version of Hayden Pattiwhatever, the cheerleader from Heroes, a Yale Indian-American who was really young and looks like a young Kumar, a Visual-kei loving American from Columbia U (she was the only weeabooish person) and miscellenous others. We had 3 Japanese Waseda students, who were all selected because they had (for Japanese standards) amazingly godly levels of English. 2 of them had dads who were expats in the US and UK, and had much of their education there.

What surprised me most however, was the fact that I am awesome at Japan knowledge, at least for a gaijin who hasn’t been to Japan in more than 8 years, and probably has more knowledge than the regular person will ever attain in his lifetime. I also realised that this may or may not apply to all otakus/weeaboos of the anime-loving gaijin world.

While not exhaustive, here are a list of abilities I have obtained either directly or indirectly via this hobby, that is only activated in Japan.

1. The unique ability to speak to the  natives and understand menus, signs and everything else without being fucking confused. Speaking of which, travelling with this group gets bit tiring as the guys are all really alpha-male types and want to decide how to proceed in terms of directions, and yet have no clue how to read the signs. They are all pretty smart and thus analyse a lot, which results in much wasted time when I can read a giant sign in Japanese that says exactly how to go to this place.

2. The ability to talk to Japanese people about their music. They’ll be all shy at first when asked about their hobbies, but when it appeared that I seemed to know everything they talked about, like what artistes they liked etc, they became pretty open. Nobody has heard of Last Alliance though, what a shame. The mainstream power is strong in Japan.

3. The ability to explain why stuff are done that way in Japan to the gaijins, who are often clueless. Like how to sort the burnable trash etc, or how to eat sushi, or what are the types of sushi on the belt. Speaking of which, I ate dinner at a revolving sushi bar and the fish portion on each sushi is fucking triple of what we get back home in Singapore, and for the same price or less! This is quite wtf. The variety is also awesome, not to mention the fish are fresh. Then again, sushi is evil food that taxes the fish stocks heavily so maybe that’s a Japanese plot to trick people into hating sushi by having crap sushi chains overseas so they can have all the fish to themselves.

4. The ability to tell when a dance and song is from Okinawa! There was this huge summer festival performance in the middle of Shinjuku and I could tell from the music straight away that it was a shimauta, well you can see that from the Sea Story anime. The Japanese people were impressed with my awesome cultural knowledge.

5. The ability to explain wtf is Pachinko. We went into a pachinko parlour after splitting up into small groups, and everyone had never heard of the game.

6. The ability to answer almost any gaijin question about Japan with superb detail and elaboration, sometimes so much that they got way more than they asked for. Uh oh, I might have been classified as a weeaboo, but thankfully I think they haven’t heard of such a syndrome.

I’m pretty disappointed that not a single person so far has turned out to have any similarity in interests to me, despite the fact that I have like 10 interests or so. It’s strange but the Americans all have their only hobbies as "partying" and they vehemently deny playing any form of games when I asked, even the Kumar guy was like "OH NO I USED TO PLAY A BIT OF DOTA AND STARCRAFT BUT LONG AGO". Weird, I thought America was some advanced geek nation in the universities.

I’ll look forward to asking if the people from the Peking university, who are arriving tomorrow, are into anime. Then again, Peking university is bloody hard to get in for a China guy, so I’m sure they are nerds who don’t do anything besides study.

Oh I learnt something interesting – because Waseda has such a massive student population, they also have lots of shitty students. In fact, apparently it is not that hard to get into Waseda, compared to Todai or Keiou solely because of the much lower enrolment rates of the latter 2. And as such, the Japanese really think Todai and Keiou are far better schools and Waseda is pretty meh.

I also learnt that Roppongi is a stupid place to go to. Not that I didn’t know, but the partying Americans and our Singaporean females wanted to enjoy the night life, so we went to Roppongi which the Lonely Planet guidebook says is the happening place for bars. I knew the LP guidebook was pure rubbish and useful only for going to tourist traps, but seriously, wtf. We were on the correct Roppongi area with all the dirty bars and such, and that place is full of hot girls with huge cleavages. I found the trip worth it for that alone. There was also a somewhat cruel pet shop which stocks nothing but weeks-old puppies of purebred lineages, and they cost 200 000 yen or more, which is like 3000 SG dollars? Another wtf. Yeah so the group insisted on going to Roppongi Hills, for some unknown reason to me, and I tagged along. I knew the place from an old post by Danny Choo, where he blogged about it. My photos are pretty shit compared to him, partly because I’m sucky at it and I also had no time to properly take nice photos since the others were more or less ok with grainy high ISO shots with people in the middle.

Overall, I just don’t understand what regular gaijin want when they come to Japan. They have heard of places like Shinjuku and Shibuya, but seriously, the prices in Japan are so high that they wouldn’t buy anything unless they’re loaded with money, which is what students are not. I’ve met a few new Japanese friends today, and some of them know real otaku who are supposedly "pros" so I’ll ask them for an introduction and piggyback a trip to Akiba or something.

The program starts for real on Monday but tomorrow we’re going to Asakusa for more touristy shit, which I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t involve walking at least 20 km like today.

One thing though, there are plenty of hot girls in Japan. But I realised that that is only due to population density. There are a huge number of ugly chicks and girls with make up the thickness of my mattress. But the average boob size is about slightly larger than in Singapore and everyone dresses a lot better even in the summer heat. Especially at Roppongi, now that place had sexy girls.

Anime is not as ubiquitous in Japan as many of you seem to mistakenly think. I knew that so far, having covered a great deal of distance, I’ve seen like only 3 anime-related items. A KON poster at a music store, an Evangelion movie promo poster at a Pachinko parlour and finally a Naruto game poster. I guess the anime stuff have really gone underground in the past few years, stuffed into the usual otaku haunts like Akiba.

17 Responses to “Day 2 in Japan: Frolicking in Shinjuku with Abilities Gained from Anime”

  • I wonder why is it that when I post something, you will post something a few minutes later. *Wonder how long this trend will go on. LOL

  • i think public display of anime stuff is invariably linked with pachinko palors in japan. i doubt you’ll see a lot of those in tourist-y areas. hope you get to enjoy akiba soon, and definitely try out jangara ramen o7

  • @Tenshi
    You’re too self-conscious. You only have two posts and you arrive at that conclusion? Unpredictable post timings are what you get for working on a team blog.

  • I think out your 6 points, 5 apply to me too. The only one that doesn’t is point 4.

    Regarding music, you should really listen to some of the music I dumped out my iPod last time. There are quite a few good mainstream bands such as Radwimps and Bump of Chicken. Apparently, they are fairly well-known among the youngsters in Japan.

    Also, out of my 4 trips to Japan, I’ve yet to go to Roppongi. I doubt I’ll be going there anytime soon even when I head to Japan, soon.

  • We don’t have Roppongi here… But there’s always Changi.

  • i wonder how long it would be before the rest of the group finds out about this blog.
    anyway, i am surprised to hear anime isn’t as ubiquitous as they make it out to be in the media. In fact, i get the feeling that anime is kinda shunned by the average japanese, especially amongst gal teenagers. just an impression i get from watching youtube videos…

  • “Weeabooism” is revealed for what it really is: intelligence and interest. We must embrace our inner weeaboo and go for the knowledge. Enjoyable post.

  • Hashi: Yeah I’m beginning to think having a great knowledge and interest in Japan is not weeabooism but just purely being knowledgeable.

    Pyro: Actually I mentioned to one of the girls that I have a website which is decently read but I don’t think she understood what that meant. I doubt they’ll ever find out cos I removed the link from my facebook account.
    And yeah, I asked a few of them what they thought about otaku and anime, and they were like yeah otaku are dameningen.

    Nyan if you’ve ever gone to overseas sexy places, you wouldn’t go to Changi.

    Double: Shit I left the music in my hard disk at home. I didn’t bring any fresh music so haven’t heard any music at all.

    Tenshi: Sorry man, I’m probably going to be posting every day for these 3 weeks or so. Doesn’t really matter does it?

  • meganeshounen

    So learning stuff while being outside of Japan does work. At least in your case.
    I’m sure nobody would mind being a weeaboo, as long as you don’t go too overboard. (No matter how odd that might sound.)

  • LianYL: I’m new to this team blogging after all, pardon my noobness.
    tj_han: I’m not complaining, just feeling amused.

  • Man, I should have applied to Keio. :\

  • But Waseda is probably easier to get in and seems like has a better location and lit department.

  • Yeah! Their lit department is a lot more well-established and they do have a good number of decent-to-good writers who graduated! :D Todai’s still the Holy Grail for most otaku I think. Probably for the simple fact that I can’t think of any other real university that’s been featured prominently in anime/manga. Other than the university that was in Honey & Clover?

    Try and drag some people to Hanayashiki theme park haha! It’s just behind Sensoji!

  • Roppongi’s equivalent to Holland Village. An expat’s playground. Kabukicho it where it’s at. (Think Geylang Lorong 12, except the goods are mostly inside in buildings)

  • I doubt we’ll visit any seedy joints but my American friends want to go to regular clubbing. Do you know where we can go?

  • Nice post. Reading info on casual japanese trips is quite insightful in order to learn about jpn culture.

  • @tj_han:
    Most clubs are centered around Shibuya and are listed on Metropolis magazine/website. Cover charges are typicaly higher than in Singapore, averaging at 3,000-3,500yen. For live music and wider genre range, visit Shimokitazawa.

    But my favourite place to party at is Yoyogi Park on weekends. DJs and musicians are scattered throughout, toting their own generators and sound systems. Just choose the crowd you’re comfortable with and rave through the night. Best of all, there is no cover charge!

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