Because Japan: Everything’s Kawaii

This post is full of stuff that doesn’t really fit into my entries about specific places or events.   I was in Japan for a total of five weeks.  In that time, I took nearly 2,500 photographs.   This is partly because I was fascinated by almost everything, and partly because I’m the sort of person who likes to take pictures of everything.    Plus, almost everything was kawaii, or super cute!

For example, this poster was in the tunnels leading to and from subway trains.   As near as I can tell, it’s a public service campaign suggesting that you don’t play music loudly in the train because it’s just rude.  I think it’s somewhat telling that the musical people here are brightly colored and the person who doesn’t want to hear the music is pale and lifeless.  I’m just saying.


Here’s one from the office.  Basically, this is saying that when you’re sick, you should stay home through the worst of it, and wear a face mask until you are once again a happy and healthy bean.  Plus wash your little bean hands, because unwashed bean hands are how disease is spread!


Continuing the trend to have all signs include really adorable things, this one is a little egg.  I saw this little fellow all over the city, including a stuffed animal version in one of the department stores.


Lest we forget that we’re in Japan, here’s some bad-ass Transformers.  This was a giant decal on the floor of the aforementioned department store.


I’m not even going to get into what was happening on television.   I don’t know if this is a children’s show, but it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before outside of Starlight Express.


I don’t know if one of these guys was the bad guy, and I’m not sure whether they’re supposed to be superheroes or train engines.


Meanwhile, back in the realm of cute signs, this was on the back wall of a train platform.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what it’s about, but cute samurai cats are always a welcome sight.


Sometimes the cute samurai cats look mildly evil, like this one on a display case in the Hiroshima castle.  The smaller cat with what looks like a baseball bat is especially adorable here.


Cute cats were a common theme during my visit.  This hipster kitty is supposed to clip onto cell phones, I think.


Before we move away from the cat theme, I wanted to point out this logo for a Japanese package delivery service.  The design is of a mother cat carrying a kitten around.  Isn’t that the best logo for a delivery company ever?  “We treat your package like our adorable fuzzy offspring.”


Meanwhile, near the river in Tokyo, this building exists.  I never found out what the golden squiggly sperm-like structure is supposed to be.    It’s enormous, though.


I passed this sign every day on my walk to and from the office, and the nearest I can figure out is that it’s to help passing alien beings figure out where to safely cross.  Seriously, neither one of the creatures on this sign looks like a human person.


This one here?  This looks like a human person.  This hard-hatted worker is a human person who explicitly does NOT want you to go through this door.


Meanwhile, this other human person is singing karaoke in the middle of the afternoon.  Welcome to Japan.


Something that I noticed while I was in Japan was that it’s unusual to find  cookies or snacks that are not individually wrapped.   I have theories about how avoiding disease in such a crowded city are a factor in this package design, but I’m only guessing.   Here’s some examples of the individually wrapped delights.

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Here’s something I never did while I was in Japan:  A pachinko parlor.    Pachinko is a sort of automated gambling machine.  They’re very popular, and pachinko places are incredibly loud and smoky.  I walked past one every day on my way to the office, and whenever the doors opened, it was a blast of sound like nothing I’ve heard anywhere outside of Las Vegas.


Last but certainly not least in this batch of random photos from Japan is the umbrella locker.  This ingenious luggage locking system is all over the place, and it makes sense to have a way to securely store your umbrella in a city that gets as much rain as this one does.    This particular example is at the entry level of the Edo-Tokyo Museum.  Basically, each tiny umbrella slot has a bracket with a key.  You take the key, and use it to retrieve your umbrella when you leave.  The whole thing is kind of genius, actually.

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Have you ever used one of these umbrella lockers?  What’s your favorite individually wrapped snack treat?


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