A Godless Country?; and Other Stories..

A view from inside a temple in northern Tokyo, looking out at a large building.
…Welcome to Japan?

A few things for today.  First off, it’s been crazy lately.  Gaining a level, as in many games (the game of Real Life(tm) in this case), tends to make you overconfident about the next area.  Possibly this is because the area you just finished was actually pretty easy by the time you managed to finish it.  Actually, not ‘possibly’.  Probably.  It is VERY likely that, because you power-leveled for a week and a half, the last area was very easy for you, and this next area is gonna kick your patootie back a few notches.  (Hehe…  Spellcheck wants me to make ‘patootie’ into ‘potato’.  Stupid spellcheck.)
So what did I do with my newfound confidence?  I went exploring!  After the rain, it’s been VERY nice out here indeed!  Cool, sunny, perfect!  I went to Akihabara, and instead of the large chain store I went through once to get a game for my DS, I decided to check out some of the other, less “large-chain” stores.
…BAD IDEA!  No juice for the monkey!  I was very careful!  I obeyed the signs saying “No under 18” as though I were, in fact, under 18!  I only went to the places that said (in Japanese) things like, “Music”, or “Games”!  I tried!  I was good!  But apparently, what they mean by “games” is “pornographic games”. >.<  Well, how the hell am I supposed to know that?!?  I tend to think ‘games’ and ‘porn-games’ would be two different categories altogether!
And it’s not like you can just walk in, see titles and scantily-clad girls and be like, Oh, you meant THAT kind of game.  Oh, no.  The way you find out it’s porn is that the FIRST thing you see is a large pink poster, or display of boxes containing some naked woman having her (unnaturally sized by any stretch of the imagination as to the bounds of ‘natural’) ‘special’ parts dealt with in a terribly unflattering, inharmonious, and generally unwholesome way.  That makes me a sad panda.
So okay, that store is out, then.  (Incidentally, I have never before seen so many males in a room with so much PINK before in my life!)  This happened… well, I think I blacked out after two or three times, and somehow managed to stagger back onto the train and head home.  I’m almost done with my manga, so I stopped in at local ratail-chain used book store.  It’s not where I got my anga, but it’s the same chain, so I figured it’d be cool to go there.  So I wandered, I didn’t see it, and went on to try to find some games (the store I was at previously dealt in used games as well), maybe even a used version of the cool Kanji dictionary for the DS.  I find a map, see a section labeled “games”, and try to head that way…  Apparently I need to put some points into ‘map reading’, however, because I totally missed it.  To my credit, however, there were not actually games in the game section, merely gaming magazines, which I would not label as games on a map, but them I am not Japanese. >.<
However in looking for the games I saw a section that had girls in skimpy clothes.  I’m male, so of course I looked again, but then something made me stop and ponder (fine, “stare”, if you must put it so grotesquely, though you’ll see soon that that’s not quite what I was doing)…  Something was off about these pictures.  I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  I looked some of them over briefly, just your standard skimpy girls, right?  But something just felt weird about the whole thing.  (Shut up, or you’re going to regret your comments in a minute…)  So I looked at the surrounding area, a few books, magazines with no skimpy girls, oh, there are signs overhead.  “Cha-i-do-ru… something…” I read in my head…
…and then it hit me.  “Child.”  This was… kiddie porn?!?  I closed my eyes for two reasons then.  The first is obvious; the second was that I needed to fight the urge within myself (shut up; no comments from the peanut gallery!) to instantly turn around and punch the nearest Japanese person in the face.  Right in the face!  That would not have been okay, and I would probably have ended up in jail.  And yet, it’s what I wanted to do; and I wanted it for two reasons.  (I like having at least two reasons for every action I desire… makes it sound more reasonable…)  First, and most instinctual, because they’d put that useless crap out where I could aimlessly, innocently, wander by and accidentally have to see it (and probably because I’d realized I’d stared at it as long as I had, which was probably not nearly so long as it seemed in my memory then, or even now…).  Second, and more importantly, because, “What the hell is WRONG with your country that this kind of thing is not only legal, but acceptable?!?”  I breathed, turned, and calmly left the store, noting the gaming magazines on my left as I exited, connecting that that’s what the sign had meant after all, and didn’t care about much of anything for a while.
I died that day.  (At least a little bit, inside… T_T )
BTW, I think Jack Thompson should move out here for a while… brows the game shelves on this side o’ the ‘Tlantic; maybe get his law license transferred or something.  Then he’d find out what hell is like, because there’s more to work with over here, and fewer people would care what he had to say. Hehe.
On a MUCH lighter note (and because I’m generally over the whole previous experience, as it’s been a few days), the Japanese people have some interesting takes on things.  For instance, lines.  That is, queues.  The things in which you stand while awaiting your turn at something.
Today at lunch, I went to the little ticket-vending machine, purchased my lunch, grabbed a tray, and ticket and tray in hand, found the line, and began following it back to the end.  Of course, if I’d just FOUND the end I wouldn’t be writing this.  So, no, it was not a simple task.  In fact, the line for what I’d ordered passed THROUGH another line, looped around a nearby pillar, and circled in upon itself.  Yes, the line had formed into somewhat of a… spiral, with the outside being the end.
Is it Taoist to say that the beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning?  Taoism?  Meh, anyway, some of us thought it was terribly amusing and rather asian that such a line had formed in a Japanese cafeteria as would never have formed in an American one.  Telling, perhaps, of the Japanese society?  Can we draw a life-lesson or social comparison from this?  Probably.  Will I, yes.  Will I type it or share it with anyone?  Meh.  Does anyone really care?
That’s what I thought.
And lastly, my Japanese history class, rife with rice-cultivation, rice-paddies, and the Osaka-Yamato area (these being the three biggest buzzwords thrown out by the Japanese teacher every day she teaches) received a new, stupid word today.  “Coup d’étar.”  That’s right, it is no longer a ‘coup d’état’, but a coup d’étarr.  Gawh, she pronounces the ‘r’ sound so strongly, I almost feel like I’d be somehow insulting her were she to ask a question (thankfully no questions are asked of students in this boring lecture class) and my answer included not only no ‘t’ sound at the end but also no ‘r’ sound!  Wha–  Where did she even GET the ‘r’?!?  There’s no ‘l’ or ‘r’ ANYWHERE in the word!
Seriously, the first time I heard her say it, I was like, “Wait the what?”  I figured it out shortly thereafter, but I actually said those words before I got what she’d meant!
Gah.  And I feel especially bad because I’m sure that this teacher is actually an intelligent lady, and likely very well-versed in the topic of the class.  She probably has a dissertation written on some topic pertinent to the material we’re studying, but because when she speaks she sounds like one of those poorly digitized voice generators, I find it very difficult to view her as such; and that might make me a bad person.  I’m not sure yet.
Is Japan making me into a bad person?  Physical violence to random Japanese people?  Drawing stereotypes about a society from one day in a cafeteria?  Ignoring potentially brilliant people because they can speak my language but can’t pronounce their way out of a kindergarten phonics book?  These questions and more when we return.
Except there will be no answers, only ore question, so… ‘meh’. ^_^
Happier postings soon, I promise!  (I have the content, just gotta compile it!  I’m gonna do it, I swear!!!  No stopping me now, biotches!  …Bee-o-tiks.)

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