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First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #12

Another experience you simply cannot understand unless you’ve experienced it in Japan is Karaoke.  In the U.S.A. Karaoke, as I’ve seen it, is a caricature of that which exists in its country of origin!  In Japan there are Karaoke businesses.  These are buildings dedicated to Karaoke.  When you go, you usually go with a group.  You and your group are brought to a room fitted with seats, a table, a big screen and a method of choosing your songs to which you’ll sing.  You are assigned a waitress and can order appetizers and alcohol.  There may be places that have meals as well as appetizers, but I didn’t experience any.

Along with Karaoke, it’s interesting to note that drinking alcohol is a completely different thing in Japan compared to the US as well.  I mean, for instance, you can purchase humungous cans of beer from automated machines (like soda machines).  That is a whole thing in itself, too, the whole automated dispenser-thing!

Regarding alcohol, it seemed very much that there was not any stigma attached to the consumption of it.  The only problem that arose (socially speaking) as far as I could tell and was told, was if someone who drank was a mean drunk in public.  Otherwise it seemed like alcohol was viewed simply as a means to an end.  For instance, I learned it was pretty common practice for a boss to go out drinking with his employees for the express purpose that his employees might see him as a regular person and not the mean “bottom line” guy he has to be at work.  It was definitely seen as a social lubricant in Japan far more than I’ve ever known it to be accepted in the US.

As for the automated dispensers… well, if you can imagine that it might work in such a machine, I’m absolutely certain the Japanese could tell you if it works out as practically as it does in theory!  Seriously.  In addition to beer (and other alcohol to a lesser extent), you could find pantyhose, magazines, food, porn, movies, and more in such machines.  I’m absolutely certain I did not see as wide a variety of them as there are, in fact, available to be seen and purchased from.

Another automated sort of thing that was very different in Japan is that there were numerous video game/gaming spots.  Within each such place, you’re sure to find a mini-photo booth.  When I went to Japan, these photo booth pictures were popular enough that most of the tiny planners have a few pages specially dedicated to and made for them.  I heard, also, that there was a bit of trading of them that was popular.  They sure were fun!  The photo booths were one of my favorite activities, actually.  They could be found almost everywhere, not just in gaming places.

Although I didn’t experience it at all, there were also specific places for various forms of gambling.  Pachinko is one I can think of right off the top of my head.  I can’t tell you any more than the name because I never went in or played.  But I can tell you those shops/buildings/places were VERY well lit and noisy.  Regular shops were also lit well, but these gambling houses were almost TOO well lit.  This seems almost a direct opposite of the same sorts of places in the US… though I’ve never personally been to one in the US… I’m just basing that on what I’ve heard about them and seen in movies.

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