Posts Tagged Yodobashi Camera
Today I made a quick trip to Kawasaki City to do some shopping at Yodobashi Camera. I know that there are some electronics stores in Numazu, and probably a closer Yodobashi Camera in the area, but it’s nice to get out of town and check out some of my old familiar places on a day off. Plus the train ride allows me some time to read.
Yodobashi is a huge store, so it’s easy to spend a few hours simply exploring. There were so many cool things that I wanted to buy, but I stuck with the things that I needed: a new keyboard, USB memory card reader, and a DVD burner. I have limited hard drive space on my used desktop, so the burner will help me backup my data, as well as make copies of things that I am legally allowed to. Remember kids: don’t illegally copy DVDs. And definitely don’t use software to remove Macrovision or region codes from things. That’s super bad.
After I returned home, I opened up my desktop computer and started the upgrade process. Like most computer upgrades, what should have been an easy exercise of “open the case, put in the parts, install drivers” turned into several hours of troubleshooting by trial and error, creative cursing, and promises to buy a new computer in the future. Eventually I got everything working and rewarded myself with a beer or two.
Today I finally went out and bought a digital camera! I went to the big Yodobashi Camera near Kawasaki NOVA and bought a Canon IXY 4 megapixel camera with a 256mb memory card. I was looking for something in the 4 megapixel range with optical zoom that was point and shoot. This camera met all of my requirements, and the price was pretty good too.
I managed to make the entire purchase using Japanese. Very simple Japanese, but I still felt pretty proud of myself. The salesperson was very polite and patient. Yodobashi Camera rules!
Today was my first day back to work after four days off. Urgh! The good news was that I am finally back at Kawasaki NOVA on Wednesdays and have my good kids class back. They were all really great today!
After work I went to buy a digital camera from Yodobashi Camera, which is conveniently located next to Kawasaki NOVA. When I walked into the camera section I realized that I was in completely over my head. There were at least 100 different models in prices ranging from cheap to crazy expensive. I don’t know anything about digital cameras, and my Japanese ability is too limited to have a meaningful conversation with the sales staff. I gave up for the day and went to the internet cafe to do some research. After spending some time online, I think I will be buying a 4 megapixel Sony camera.
Who knew that a camera store in Japan would have so many choices?
In the morning I went to the immigration office to update my alien registration card (aka gaijin card). All foreign residents of Japan are required to carry their gaijin cards around at all times, and to keep the information up to date. Failing to do so would be a bad idea.
In the afternoon I went shopping with Zoe, who is also enjoying a day off. We went to Yodobashi Camera to inquire about internet connections. Unfortunately it would have taken a month to get hooked up, leaving me with only about a month of internet before the expected date of my transfer. At this point it’s really not worthwhile to go through the trouble. While in Yodobashi, I resisted the urge to buy a DVD burner, but I did end up getting some cool futon covers and a new pillow.
To recover from our long day out in Tokyo, we decided to walk around the my school near Kawasaki station. Our first stop was my usual internet cafe. The guys had never been into a manga / internet cafe before, and were impressed by the setup and the free drinks. If they could read Japanese we would have likely spent the day reading comics. Everyone made sure to send email to friends and family back home. Remember young travelers: always make sure your parents know you are safe and healthy, especially when it is your first time to be on the other side of the planet.
After catching up on email, we went to the big Yodobashi Camera near Kawasaki station. As we walked in, we passed a security guard who casually made a comment into the radio on his shoulder. He then proceeded to follow us around the store to keep an eye on us. Apparently when five young gaijins walk into an electronics store, they are up to no good.
Being five white guys who live in Canada, none of us had ever been followed around a store by a security guard before. I think the guys would have been more upset about it if they weren’t distracted by the huge selection of cool electronics in every direction. We literally examined EVERYTHING in the whole store, from TVs to video games to musical instruments. Generally the consumer electronics you can buy in Japan are at least several months ahead of what you can buy in Canada.
While walking around Yodobashi camera, you can’t escape the horrible store theme song, which is the famous “Battle Hymn of the Republic” aka “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”, but with lyrics about the store and what they sell. This also happens to be the same tune that Delta Upsilon Manitoba borrowed and turned into a song called “I Don’t Want to be a Phi Delt”. Phi Delta Theta was the second largest fraternity in Winnipeg, and were sworn rivals of Delta Upsilon. As we walked around, the guys started singing the modified lyrics. I won’t post the lyrics here, but there are verses about Phi Delts not being very fun, insinuations of what happens at a Phi Delt initiation, and derisive comments about Phi Delts’ skill with the opposite sex. I was happy that most of the people around us couldn’t understand English.
We likely spent almost two hours exploring Yodobashi camera, with our personal security guard casually following us around at a distance, but trying not to be too obvious about it. At one point we all turned and waved at him, which actually got him to crack a smile. We paid for our purchases and left allowing the security guard to return to his post and wait for the next batch of suspicious looking foreigners to follow around.
(2014 Update) Looking back, I have mixed feelings about the whole experience. I understand that theft is a big problem for stores, and they should be able to take reasonable precautions to protect their assets. Also, our personal security guard was never in our face, he was always a reasonable distance away, casually walking nearby. In my three years of living in Japan, this was the first time that I was ever followed around a store. I think I would feel a bit better if I knew that he followed us because we were a group of young males and not because we were a group of foreigners, but I will never know the true motive for sure.
There is racism in Japan, just like in every country. Being a white guy in Canada, I have never obviously been “profiled” before. It is an unusual experience to say the least. My friends and I simply ignored it because we were all short term visitors in the country and wanted to enjoy our vacation. However, if I was living in Japan full time I would not enjoy this kind of experience at all.
I wish I had some kind of clever way to end this post, maybe something with an uplifting message of peace, unity and brotherhood for the people of the world. Unfortunately I don’t, this whole topic is way more than a simple travel blog can handle.
Be good to each other.
FINALLY, I have access to my website again. Unfortunately, due to a few weeks of not typing, I have forgotten most of the interesting happenings. Fortunately, Nothing very exciting happened so you didn’t miss anything! Here are some highlights and lowlights in no particular order.
- I got a TV from a guy who is moving out for only 1000 yen. Now I can watch Japanese TV in my room!
- I will be switching from part time to full time May 1st if all the paperwork goes through
- I walked 1/3 of the way to Kawasaki station for something to do. Walking through the not so major streets of any city is a great way to really learn about life in another place.
- My group kids class learned the word “penis” and used it in class a lot. Note: They didn’t learn it from me!
- I went to Yodabashi camera, which is a HUGE electronics chain (think Future Shop but about 6 times bigger). It was crazy!
- One of my M2M kids students thought it was funny to throw things at my groin in class. Being that he didn’t succeed, I can appreciate the humour in that.
The plan for July 10 was a solo trip to Tokyo while the Wife spent time with her family. I have been to Tokyo many, many times before, so the goal was to find something new. After some time spent on Wikitravel, I ended up with a plan to go to the Edo Tokyo museum, the nearby Fukugawa Edo museum, and then shopping at Disk Union in Shinjuku.
From The In-Laws house I went to nearby Ooka station on Gotemba line. Ooka station is so small that they don’t have an automatic ticket gate. You have to show your ticket to the JR employee in the station window as you pass. When I arrived at the station I was wondering why everyone was sitting down in the station building and nobody was waiting on the platform. Then I realized that the platform was directly in the sun with no shade. Even at 9:00am it was crazy hot. Travel Protip: when all the locals are doing something, it’s probably for a good reason.
From Ooka station it was a short ride to Numazu station, where I changed to the Tokaido line bound for Mishima. At Mishima I upgraded my ticket to a Shinkansen ticket for Tokyo, which can be done on the machine easily in English. My train was not coming for some time, so I went into the nice, air conditioned waiting area hoping to find some Wi-Fi. Unfortunately there is not a lot of free Wi-Fi in Japan, and I didn’t have a subscription to any of the available paid options. This is exactly why you should always travel with a book.
On the platform at Tokyo station I got my first blast of the days weather. It was just before 11 but the temperature was already north of 30 degrees and the humidity had to be in the high 70% range. I quickly worked my way inside to the main station and followed the signs for the Sobu line. Tokyo station is quite simply well organized chaos. There are excellent signs directing you to the various train lines and exits, and a huge selection of restaurants, food stands and souvenir shops. Also about a zillion people walking around in every direction.
One final quick ride had me at Ryogoku station. Ryogoku is the home of sumo in Japan, with several stables in the area. On this particular day there was a tournament going on in Nagoya, so I didn’t see any wrestlers walking around on the streets. Ryogoku station to the museum is only a few minute walk, but in the heat it felt like half an hour. The museum itself looks like a giant AT AT walker from The Empire Strikes back. Unfortunately due to its massive size it is nearly impossible to photograph from ground level.
Edo Tokyo museum shows the history of, unsurprisingly, Edo, which is now known as Tokyo. The main attraction is the detailed scale models of street scenes from Tokyo’s history. Most of the scenes of the have hundreds of tiny people, all with different clothing and facial expressions. Binoculars are provided so you can get an up close view. You could literally spend hours looking at everything in the models. Other highlights include a recreation of a late 1700’s book store, Japan’s first phone booth, and full size recreations of houses that you can walk around in. The museum is one of the best in Japan, and an absolute bargain at 600 yen.
After the museum I walked back to the station. At this point the sidewalk was so hot that I could feel the heat through the soles of my shoes. I avoided the nearby McDonald’s and stopped to eat at Pepper Lunch, a hamburger steak chain. Hamburger steak is a ground beef patty usually served with some veggies. When I left the restaurant, I was so hot that I decided against the Fukugawa Edo museum due to the 10 minute walk from the station. I instead headed to Akihabara, the geek capital of Japan.
Knowing that I would be back in Akihabara about a week later, I confined myself to Yodobashi camera. If you like electronics, video games, models, etc, and only have time go to to one place, make sure you go to Yodobashi Camera. The Akihabara store is 6 floors of awesome. I bought a memory card reader, a Bluetooth audio transmitter and successfully avoided buying about 500 other things that I really really wanted to buy.
Escaping from Yodobashi, I returned to the station and took the Chuo line to Shinjuku. The Chuo line cuts right through the centre of Tokyo at a high rate of speed. It is very convenient, but it is also host to a lot of train suicides due to the high speed and number of trains. Fortunately I got through with no incidents.
At this point it is repetitive to say that any part of Tokyo is insanely busy, but Shinjuku station and surrounding area is the very definition of insanely busy. The station is used by over 3.5 million people per day. The key is to think of the crowd like an ocean current and just get into the flow that is going in the direction you want. Also, know which exit you need to use.
Disk Union has 5 different stores near Shinjuku station. Some of these have multiple floors and different genres of music on each one. The stores are very narrow and crowded, so I immediately regretted wearing my big traveling backpack. I ended up in 4 different Disk Union genre stores – classic rock, Japanese rock, punk and metal. The final tally was 8 used CDs and one brand spanking new copy of the 40th Anniversity Ziggy Stardust rerelease with Japanese writing on the package.
Since I was close to the entrance to Kabukicho I wandered over and started taking pictures of the famous entrances and tall buildings full of stores. I wad not feeling adventurous enough to wander through Kabukicho itself and take pics, and by this time I was started to really feel that I had been walking around in the heat all day. In fact, other than sitting to eat lunch I had been on my feet all day. It was well and truly time to call it a daay.
If going to Tokyo – wear comfortable shoes, check out the Edo Tokyo museum, and don’t go during the summer. Just don’t. It’s too f**king hot.