Japan 3

I wonder if maybe it was a bad idea to make you guys vote. Now I’m trying to get all the posts done at once so I can show them off. Oh well.

So recreation in Japan!

I tried to keep this one as vague as I possibly could because it’s something that immensely interested me and is HUGE in Japan. Also I’m saving all the Shrines and temples for last.

Although it has practically died out int he states arcade games are huge in Japan. I accidentally stumbled into about three within walking distance from the Hotel…although…now that I think about it I’m not sure if they were connected…anyway.

Arcade games are king in Japan. As soon as I touched down I found one and it was packed….at 11am on a WORKDAY! (Yes it was friday but that still doesn’t count.) Multi Level buildings house dozens of different games. Businessmen, children and yes sometimes even girls play massive multiplayer games on at max eight different screens.

In Japan it’s considered a comical act of overexxagerated rage to flip over a table. It’s even funnier if you flip over the table and everything lands as if nothing is wrong. So they made an arcade game for it. Literally the object of this game is to grab the end of the table and flip it! THATS IT! (I just saw a sign on the top right corner that has a no picture taking sign on it. oops.)

The picture above is incredibly bad because my camera just decided to quit on me that day. But if you look closely I know you can see that is a plastic mario ontop of that arcade game those four (yes there is another one in the back) are crowded around. These four men are completely absorbed in the original Super Mario Brothers. Yes, the original 1985 release that I remember playing back when I was about Seven. It is still popular to this day. Win.

Hands down the coolest arcade game I have ever seen. t is a real time strategy game played with cards. The cards on the table are read by a camera and moving them physically on the table changes the players positions on screen! The game connects to other machienes in other arcades around Japan as well. The best part, the game also sells booster pack cards. So you can buy that game winning special move right in the heat of battle if you’ve got the cash.

I have to admit I got a little hooked with this little arcade game. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be able to get into this. I’m pretty sure even my mother would love it. The game is a four by four grid of buttons. You select a song from their extensive online library and as the lights turn from blue to yellow with the beat of the music you tap them. Best part…it has online multiplayer for up to four people. So i\even if you’re the only person in the arcade you can connect and play with someone else in the country.

(This image isn’t mine…I grabbed it from this sitehttp://www.sitsam.com/random/ufos-spotted-in-japan/ Also I need a new camera)

Crane games in Japan are just as huge as the arcade games. No i’m not kidding. Usually I have found dozens of crane games in a room specifically designated for them. These games sometimes have the classic crane but a lot of them have a much more nefarious tactic. They will take a prize and balance them carefully between two parallel bars. What you want to do is tip the prize in such a way that it gets knocked over and falls between them. Let me tell you it’s hard to walk by these machines because the prizes teeter right on the edge…but like any well devised amusement game your chances of winning are more so based on luck than skill.

(image credit: http://jimmynjapan.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html)

(image credit: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/auc-fullcolormarket/item/10002383/ )

I should also reiterate the teetering border of sexuality that seems constantly present in Japanese society, as can be seen in the two examples of common prizes above.

(Photo Credit: http://briannainjapan.blogspot.com/2009/06/night-of-good-fun-and-crazy-japanese.html)

Just as common as the prize machines are the photo booths. No lie, I literally saw stores that were nothing more than a collection of random white photo booths with glittering women on them, just like these. I always found it fascinating that lack luster side businesses like this, that would barely bring in a dime in the states, exist as whole booming businesses in their own right in Japan (and since writing this I’ve found a few small examples in Korea too). I should say however that these photo booths seemed to offer far more than take four photos and get a cruddy print out. They have probably as many effects and clip art files as any pirated copy of Photoshop.

I was incredibly excited to finaly go to Joypolis. A huge amusement arcade owned by the once video game giant SEGA. I appologise in advance many of these phots are taken from other sites, because my cell phone died on me that day and my camera takes very poor photos in the dark but I’ll only post up pictures of attractions I actally saw. I got these photos from multiple sources but I believe I can rightfully credit all of them to the official Joypolis site. (http://tokyo-joypolis.com/)

First up is the Half Pipe! It’s an amusement park styleride that works like a video game. As you can see you’re strapped into these giant swimming chairs with a skateboard like controller beneath you. The goal is to tap the boardonce forward and once back while you’re in the very middle of the ramp. If you don’t tap the ramp it just swings you back and forth. If tap the contoller once forward when you reach thehight of your swing the whole board tilts you and does a 180 spin clockwise. It does the opposite if you tap it back.  But if you can get both taps in it does a superfast 360 spin in the air and speeds up really fast! Its the most fun i’ve had while screaming in a while.

Next up is Storm-G a 3d bobsledding game that actually spins as you turn. I would write more…but just think about that…THE WHOLE THING CAN SPIN WHEN YOU TURN! Very fun on spiral chutes.

Next up is the Initial-D Arcade game. Initial-D is an anime series about race car drivers. But those aren’t stock cars just set out for decoration…those are the actual controllers. Yes, you climb into the car and the game on-screen responds. Yes, I could go drive a real car…but this is more fun.


Another little oddity I found was a surprise box store! Apparently you can buy a box of varying size. The boxes are all wrapped up tight and have slips of paper inside of them. Depending on what the paper says you get a prize corresponding to it. This can mean a box can hold anything from a cheap plastic model to a 50″ screen HD plasma screen tv. I really like how they decorate the store with poleriods  of people who’ve won and up sell you even larger box, even though we have no idea if that actually increased our chances of winning. It’s a fun place to go. Sorry again the picture is terrible…

(image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaun_morrison/28456414/)

Gambling in Asia is very very weird. (In Korea they have a casino, but native Koreans are not allowed to use it…only foreigners. WTF) But in Japan gambling is illegal. So to get around this obstacle many gambling places have come up that use tokens or in this case pachinko balls that can be redeemed for prizes rather than actual cash.

A pachinko game is kind of like pinball, with absolutly no control. You drop you balls in and flick a lever that shoots the ball to the top of an obstacle course around a screen. The hope is that you’ll knock other balls free or your ball will fall into a slot that will release more balls. It’s an interesting little diversion.

(One of the few photos in this post I actually took, that came out looking decent.)

Horse racing is also really popular in Japan..but like Golf in Korea there really isn’t real open space to watch or play. So clever arcade games simulate the experience. This game has separate screens all connected to the same hub. You can place bets and then actually watch as fully articulate minerature figures race down the table. You could also watch the screen which gives a play by play of the race using video game stle 3d graphics of the race on the field. This was truly something to behold.

Well I think I’ll close off this post with another exploration into this strange phenomenon known only in Japan as Kawaii! HOWEVER, this close is completely PG.

If you aren’t familiar with Hello Kitty, you’ve really been living under a rock. While the show that I suppose spawned it hasn’t gained that much attention, the merchandising is huge. They literally have Hello Kitty everything, pillows, dolls, stuffed animals, clothes, shoes, bed sheets, even vibr…back massagers. And right now I’m only talking about what they have in the United States. (In Korea they have a Hello Kitty cafe where everything is themed after her.) BUT Japan is the birthplace of Hello Kitty, so it only stands to reason that she would have an amusement park, Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Palace.

Kawaii Paradise

Hello Kitty's Pancake Party

Hello Kitty Theme Park – Japan

(IMage credit to two websites: http://www.askingfortrouble.org/crafts/2011/04/27/tokyo-shopping-guide-hello-kittys-kawaii-paradise/ and http://jetsetta.com/travel/hello-kitty-theme-park-japan/)

My Co-Teacher is a HUGE hello Kitty fanatic so I had to drop by and scope the place out for her. It’s a dream for any 5-year-old girl with a princess complex. Everything is painted white and pink and your kitty overloard’s face is plastered everywhere. There is even a mosiac sculpture of her…although I was very close to mistaking it as a holy effigy to the greeting cat. A monument to one who has “hello” in her name and is constantly wave although lacks a mouth with which to actually say so. I would normally put the pictures into context…but the place was practically closed when i got there (thank god.) The pictures are pretty self explanatory.

5 Responses to Japan 3

  1. Bryan says:

    Thanks for crediting the picture. I found out similar to you that pictures are not allowed after already snapping the shot. Unfortunately for me it was a game center employee that let me know (and my wife punching me in the head). Love reading about other people’s experiences in Japan. The country truly has a lot to offer and I tell everyone I know to visit if they get the chance.

  2. Marty says:

    I had no idea you had a new post up, Echo. You have to let me know sooner. Your pictures and descriptions are great. I have to visit Asia very soon. You would be a great tour guide.

  3. Deloris says:

    Hey Ryan: Exactly how long were you in Japan? Looks like you were there for at least a month to have seen and done so much. You indicated that the Mario game may have come out in 1985 when you were around 7, must have been a mistype because you were born in 1987 ( smile). What is WTF?? Don’t forget that younger kids read your site. Anyway, enough of being a “mom critic”, I really enjoy reading your site and seeing what you are experiencing. Keep up the good work. Let’s schedule a time to Skype. Love you and miss you.

  4. Rajean (Your Niece) says:

    I wish I was there so BADD! It looks so entertaining and theres alot to do. Your lucky Uncle Ryan to be traveling the other side of the world.

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