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Into Japan

Rightie - sitting in a kind of output bureau computertime rental place in downtown Osaka, on a Mac with a Japanese keyboard...

24 Apr 2000

Getting to Japan was a mad rush at Auckland airport -- the Wellington to Auckland flight was late so we had hostesses chasing up, like running, on to the Osaka flight. Ten hours later, we're at Kansai artificial airport island.

Into a huge hall, like a slaughterhouse for people where they do the immigration - off the airconditioned plane in to a sauna like atmosphere. hot and wet. Don't step over the yellow line.

The first guy: a bored bureaucrat, almost doesnt let us in because we dont know the address we're staying at. The second one is a kinda cool - almost - customs dude. do you speak any english? any prohibiteds? then he makes smoking gestures at us while double and triple checking larry's dodgy looking passport photo. hmmm.

Out of the airport, Tim and Shinobyu find us and we're ready to step in to the crazy Osaka train system. Very clean, very efficient, very much advertising. and the trains talk -- telling you which station's coming next.

Tim lives in the outskirts of Osaka - is a really tiny old style shack near a station called Kitahanada - it's kind of like Newtown in it's rundownness, with really narrow streets, little houses - like 50's style Japan, which isn't surprising because it is. Lots of old people on bicycles with umbrellas.

Anyway, it's hot and sweaty. And very wet. It rains and rains, but you're sweating too. Nice.

We go to a greasy but cool little diner and have really tasty pancakes and Asahi bear, which is the local brew and in the heat. Refreshing. Goes down well.

Yeah, so a night of duty free vodak fun later and it's uptime, in to town. mMore trains, more shopping. more shops. more shops. more shops. Hours underground in shopping complexes. more people. more people. and never the same person twice. A dub shop and irie dub record salesman. A respite from cool mad streets with lots of wicked neon.

Didn't feel like another country when i got off the plase, actually was very normal -- but now i've been here a few days and saturated in it, it's all very nicely alien.

Very cool clothes. Jive Jukies would be jealous. Lots of beige. Lotsa of tshirts with really dodgy engrish phrases on them ("Use no headlock", "Firm hand required for naught miss"). Hmmm.

Cellphones everywhere (of course). All with email. No URLs on billboards, but ISDN is pretty common. Video cellphones coming out reall soon now. Net access is pretty fast here. Funny that.

Everything is tidy, lots of right angles and big slabs of solid colour. Some of the building have giant advertising on them. One has an Alien running down the side.

Hoped to get a digital camers but they cost just a bit too much. NTSC videocams are about 20000 yen (300 bucks) but kinda useless getting NTSC - PAL ones cost ten times that for a cool one. So no photos.

Prices actually match up to NZ ones pretty much 1:1 - a coffee cost about $3 for example - but there are a few wierd ones, like a pineapple style psychofruit was 10000 yen ($180)

Time to go, that's enough for now. The Fun Poison party was, well, Fun. More about that later.

Psi, Friday 3rd September 1999.