10 things that amazed me in Tokyo
1. Cafes with animals
In this type of cafe, you can hug and pet various animals. These are animals like owls, fennec foxes, rabbits and guinea pigs. There are also cafes with cats only. The Japanese have very small flats and often they are not allowed to keep animals at home. For more and more Japanese it is also difficult to involve in a relationship. Often it is tough to find a right person to live together so they are looking for closeness with animals. They sit in a cafe, drink expensive coffee and hug cats.
2. People in masks
I can understand wearing a mask when I have an infection. This is being responsibile and sometimes Europeans find it difficult to understand but very normal and popular in other Asian countries. However, in Japan, you also wear a mask because of two other reasons. And probably for these reasons it is worn more often. When taking a subway in Tokyo you will notice more people with masks than people without masks. Why? They isolate themselves this way. They want to separate from others and discourage contact. Another reason for wearing a mask is to cover minor skin imperfections or lack of makeup. Do you have a pimple? Put on the mask and cover it. The mask is an essential product here and everyone has it at home.
3. Toy vending machines for adults
Can you recall machines with plastic balls for kids? After throwing the coins and turning the lever, a ball is dropped out of the machine. This ball has a surprise inside – a plastic figure. We usually have one or two such machines in the places where children are around. The kids urge parents to throw coins. In Tokyo, I saw the entire walls of such machines and they were used mainly by adults. But there is still a plastic toy in the ball. The Japanese call them Gachapon. Gachapon toys are figures from Japanese manga, game or anime characters, but also figures from the American entertainment industry. Yes, here adults collect Spiderman plastic figurines 😊
4. Pedophile manga
The Japanese have really great bookstores. They have several floors, including at least two floors for manga – Japanese comic. There is also a section on the pornographic manga (homo and heterosexual) as well as comics about the intimate relations of adults with children. It was a shock for me. In Japan, it is legal to have sex with a person from the age of 13 (if he/she agrees – I do not know how to comment ☹)! “Light” child pornography is also legally available. This “heavy” was legal until 2014. The manga in which adults are showed with children in beds lies on the shelves of the bookstore. This did not surprise me but heavily upset me.
5. Bars where you order and pay in a machine
They look “old school: – tiny bars serving udon noodles (in 12 or more versions). They do not have waiter service – you will not order and pay a human being here. When entering you will find a machine with a choice of dishes. You press the appropriate button, choose the dish and pay. You hand over the receipt to the chef who immediately begins his work.
6. Professional karaoke studios
Karaoke in Poland is a slightly different thing than in Japan. Karaoke studios are small professional recording rooms that are usually rent with friends. You can order drinks and snacks in this studio, but most importantly you can rent stage clothing. So dressed up as Cher I could perform her biggest hits 😊 and see it all on the monitor as if I had been giving a real concert. For many Japanese, karaoke has a therapeutic effect, they treat it as relax after work, and therefore in the office districts there are a lot of karaoke studios where people go after hard office day.
7. Food shopping malls
I was surprised that in Tokyo there are shopping malls with only restaurants and no regular shops. In a huge, multi-story building, you can choose from several dozen restaurants and bars where you can eat and drink. These bars and restaurants are overcrowded in the evening since after work everyone goes to eat there. Japanese rarely cook in the apartments, because either they are without a kitchen or do not have permission from the owner of the property – the smell can disturb the neighbors. Everyone is eating out there!
8. Pachinko-gaming rooms
These places are so crowded, soaked with cigarette smoke and so loud that it is difficult to stay few minutes there. In addition to slot machines, there are games like shooting and scoring points and adults sit there with poker faces (so I don’t know if they are winning or losing). A lot of them plays with machines where you have to pull out a fluffy toy like Moomins, Pokemons, Harry Potter 😊
9. Popular sweets and snacks in strange flavors
In special Tokyo stores, we can buy Kit Kats with flavors that are not present in Europe, USA or anywhere else. Kit Kat with flavour of matcha, apple and strawberry. Pringles chips with flavor of octopus, lime and chili, cinnamon and wasabi.
10. Artificial intelligence – robots in banks
Japan is known for technical innovations and I met the robots of the shape and size of a large child. They helped in customer service at the bank. It was possible to communicate with them freely, ask a question and receive an answer. It was cool!
My trip was purely business but I had some time for sightseeing in the city. In Tokyo, Orientana presented natural cosmetics at the Cosme Tokyo cosmetics fair.