What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word Japan? Sushi? Kimono? Ninja? Or maybe anime? Manga? Cosplay? Karaoke? Electronics?
My idea of Japan before coming here was a mix of all of those. But I never gave sushi a fair shot until I came to Japan. I've never worn a kimono. I've never been too crazy about ninja.
I didn't go to karaoke bars in the US, though I loved to sing in the car. Wearing a costume was a Halloween thing (if that), though I enjoyed the costumes at DragonCon. Comics for me were limited to the newspaper variety (I've never read a comic book in my life). And all I knew about anime before stepping foot in Akihabara was that Sailor Moon, Kerropi and Hello Kitty were things from Japan.
Japan really is a mix of old and new. My students love talking about the traditional foods and products that come from their hometown, or that they find when traveling. I saw an elder lady in a kimono this morning near the train station, and a group of three younger ladies in kimono this afternoon in downtown Tokyo. Characters are everywhere and many warning signs and informational posters are presented similar to manga (comic books).
Karaoke is just as popular as ever, and I find it's a great pastime on weekdays (especially rainy days), when it's super-cheap and you can get all-you-can-drink soft drinks. Sadly, Japan has fallen a good bit behind when it comes to cutting-edge electronics, though Chinese tourists scoop up rice cookers and other electronic gadgets like crazy when visiting Japan due to higher quality.
And anime is everywhere. I really want to watch some actual shows, but never do. That doesn't stop me from collecting the merchandise, though. I have a whole bunch of stuff I've picked up at secondhand shops and flea markets and won from crane games.
I pick up card sets, too, when I can. Getting singles for anime card sets is even more difficult than baseball cards, so I don't usually buy packs or loose singles. Evangelion is an exception, though, since it's remained popular for over 20 years now.
Case in point: this card set came out in 2012, though the TV series ended about 15 years before. Calbee issued a 96-card set full of little subsets looking at different parts of the popular TV show.
Cards are numbered both as part of the subset and overall - this is a numbering scheme I can enjoy, since there are so many little subsets scattered throughout.
One bag of chips cost about 100 yen, and came with only one card. That means a full set would cost about 10,000 yen - $100 - with perfect collation. I put together my set much cheaper! It took a while, but I finally finished the set, and that's one more Evangelion set off the want list.
(I should mention that I've only watched a couple episodes of the show. I like it, but I just haven't had time to sit down and really pay attention. But, at the same time, I've been collecting all of the various card sets for the show and the later movies. I'm strange like that, I guess.)
Until next time...