In one of my posts about yuru-chara, I mentioned that Japan isn't really as crazy as it sometimes seems. I still fully believe that - after all, most of my days follow an unsurprising routine of wake up, bike to school, teach kids, bike home, do chores, escape into the night to collect the clow cards wreaking havoc on my small town, sleep, repeat.
|I've been working on this part, especially.|
That being said, I've still seen some strange stuff in my time here. So here it is, ranked for your reading pleasure!
5. People & Performers in Yoyogi/Jingubashi
Yoyogi Park is a hotspot for freaks, let's just get that out there (mostly joking). In its 90's heyday, a peaceful stroll could have led to an encounter with anyone ranging from loose-socked kogal (schoolgirls), to cosplayers, visual kei fans, yankii, and the elusive manbas, most of whom gathered on the bridge between neighbouring Harajuku and the park. Unfortunately, a lot of Japan's more eccentric fashion subcultures have suffered a decline since the early 2000's, and you're not as likely to run into a girl developing her own gravitational pull under the weight of her own hair accessories...
|Decora fashion, sadly a disappearing art form.|
Please note there are also a lot of normal people at Yoyogi Park enjoying games of frisbee or whatever, it's just that next to them might be a guy with a harmonica who prefers to communicate by screaming continuously. But in all honesty, Yoyogi Park is a wonderful place to see people really expressing their personality and creativity in a country which sometimes makes that difficult.
4. Strange Pets
The first time I went to Harajuku, I saw this woman walking her pet meerkats. As if I wasn't overwhelmed enough by the crowds, fashion, and some matsuri involving a lot of men in g-stings chanting frantically while they paraded a shrine along what appeared to be a route designed solely to expose me to as many bare Japanese buttocks as possible...did I mention the meerkats were cosplaying?
Besides meerkats, I also happened to see a woman walking a fully grown raccoon along the riverside in Hiroshima, and a woman with a pet monkey outside Tokyo Tower in Roppongi. Apparently Japan has very different laws regarding exotic animals than I'm used to!
3. Dogs in Prams
Have you ever looked into a pram (that's a stroller, for you linguistically challenged non-commonwealth-dwellers) expecting to see the smiling face of an adorable Japanese baby, only to be greeted by a drooling mutt?
If you're coming to Japan, expect it. I've conducted extremely detailed research on the matter, and my conclusion is as follows:
I don't know why people let their meerkats roam around on leashes, but dogs have to stay in the pram, but whatever Japan, we cool.
2. Chiba Batman
A few months ago, articles and videos starting popping up online about Chiba Batman, a mysterious, highly accurate cosplayer with too much disposable income. The outfit and motorbike are so well-detailed and spot-on that at first, people questioned the original video, claiming it was somehow a hoax.
Luckily, people like me are around to confirm the existence of Chiba Batman. Around Christmastime, I was walking in Roppongi, Tokyo, when a large convoy of biker santas rode past on their motorcycles. They were very happy and friendly, waving to everyone as they drove by. As if that wasn't fun enough, Chiba Batman brought up the rear on his batmobile/motorbike contraption. It was truly one of the best things I've seen in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I was too star-struck to get a photo. Chiba Batman, I hope I see you again!
1. Robot Restaurant
In the heart of Kabukichō, Shinjuku, Tokyo's rather tame version of a red light district, is one of the most popular Japanese tourist attractions for foreigners: the Robot Restaurant. A friend and I recently visited this show, which is basically what would happen if you blended the last fifty years of Japanese pop culture with a hearty helping of LSD.
Oh, I could wax lyrical about the scantily-clad women riding sharks being shot by dominatrix woman/spider hybrids, or the WWE-style battles between dinosaurs and black-belt pandas. I could tell you about the transformer-esque robots dancing to AKB48's "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie." But wouldn't you rather risk a seizure, and watch it yourself?
Writing all this really brought back a lot of memories of strange things I've seen, which I seem to have otherwise blocked out. It's possible I may be suffering some kind of Japan-PTSD, in which case my introduction was meaningless, and Japan is definitely as crazy as you always imagined.
I don't know what to believe any more.