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February 02 Issue

you MUST have at least one Louis Vuitton bag, a Tiffany's necklace and of course that essential pink sparkly phone!


At the moment am just getting used to the place and its taken me some time to find an internet cafe.Things are going well. I still haven`t got a clue how to speak Japanese but have found that nodding my head works. It's very funny here! there are lots of very cute litte gimicky things. The pelican crossings sing to you as you cross. There is music on the escalators - its hello kitty tastic. Yes - am well at home.

I went to a kareoke bar the other night where you get your own private little booth and you can sing, eat and drink to your hearts content - just like being in your own living room. You walk down the corridor and its mad looking at all the little booths - people are having a right old party. Kareoke tastic. Have also discovered sticker booths where you have your photos taken and then can decorate with loads of cute little pictures - then you stick em everywhere - I love it. Food is interesting, I am living on special K and Macdonald Happy Meals - great toy.! I don't understand any of the food packaging in the supermarkets and came home the other day with an octopus leg - thought it was a carrot- doh!!
I have a cute pink sparkly phone with a built in camera - its most exciting - it plays lots of cute little tunes and makes lots of funny little noises. It also has e-mail but only something like 500 characters, so not a biggy. Training is tough but its my last day today and then I'm a full time teacher - hurrah. We`re off to a kareoke bar - will sing a song for you all!

Konnichiwa. Well I've been in fluffy hello kitty land for a month.

What I have noticed; Japanese people have very long bodies and very diddy legs - this can prove a little fustrating especially during rush hour as they all walk so sloooowly and sometimes just suddeny stop for no reason whatsoever, which consequently results in you walking straight into the back of them, or, for we with the longer legs, end up performing some sort of wierd leapfrogging action which, at the end of the day, still leaves everyone on a crumpled heap on the floor.
Fortunately, the floors are very clean as they have 24hr litter pickers on standby who, if your not careful, will even come up and start sweeping your feet - they must be THAT bored!

It amazes me that for a country who spend their lives wrapping, decorating and bagging everything up so carefully and beautiful they still have a big cleanliness drive and if your seen dropping a bit of paper in the street then that's it - your shunned from Japanese society and ignored forever.

That's no probs for me 'cos I can`t speak the language, but it seems so ludicrous that they are so insistent on being environmentally tidy and litter free and yet use shed loads of paper - I just don`t get it. Another absolute must for being acepted in their society is that you MUST have at least one Louis Vuitton bag, a tiffany`s necklace and of course that essential pink sparkly phone!
Well, one out of three ain`t bad, oh and also - an endless supply of fishnet stockings!! I`m often pulled at work for being too scruffy - can you belieeeeve! - and am constantly told that I should look to the Japanese women as my role models for they are the face of Japan.
Have you seen these women?? if I wore in London what they wear about town and in the office then I`m sure to be offered twenty quid by a business man looking for a few extra services as it were. It's offensive, the clothes they wear here would make a prostitite blush. Fish nets - more like elephant nets - its shocking!! and how they manage to walk in these huge stilettoes is beyond me.

Good news is that I`m still taller than them - hurrah. Bad points about being tall girl in Japan - I hit my head often on the dangly hand rails in trains. The locals can breeze right under but if I`m in my usual daydream world then its - clonk - right on the head - I don`t have many brain cells as it is so its not helping much on that front. Toilets - these are fab - the seats have heaters and they play music and flushing noises to disguise any strange sounds. The Japanese are very polite and don't like to be heard. I've spent hours of fun in the toilets - except when I set the bidet off by that wasn't fun.

There are two types of toilets here - the musical ones and then the really extreme ones which is basically just a hole in the ground. Japanese ladies will even bypass a western toilet if it is vacant just to go and use the Japanese ones which I think is complete madness, but enough about toilets.

Wherever you go - you walk on the left, you must not cross the road until the little green man flashes, even if there are no cars and if you get caught by the police crossing when the little man is red - then you get a ticking off. They have a night called 'gommi ' night here. Japanese people buy new TVs and stereos and other stuff - then - three weeks later they`ll go and buy the latest model meaning no use for their three week old ones. The answer is gommi night. This is basically dustbin day, but of the bigger furniture kind where if your lucky and happening to be out on gommi night you could bring home enough gommi stuff to furnish your whole flat. This is fab except my flatmates got a little carried away one night and we woke up in the morning to a living room full of sofas, exercise bikes and baseball bats, tres bizarre - the most baffling this is how we ever got the sofas up in the tiny lift.

Taxi cars - they leave their doors open and so if you get into the cab and then try to close the door - they'll kick you out - moral of the story is - don't close the door. The Japanese are big fans of ice cream and will even stand outside in the rain, with hats and scarves eating ice-cream. They all want to come to England 'cos the English are very polite so they say and very historical. Watch out Buckingham palace!. Haven`t quite got them wearing pink fluffy stuff yet BUT BUT big BUT - they are starting to shout `hurray!!` which really does sound like `HUWAY!!!` and also using the word `tastic` lots so I must be doing some sort of teaching right. Other than that - things are fab out here - I`ve developed a passion for cute stationary and am also big into geisha spotting - no I haven`t spotted one yet, but will let you know when I do. We celebrated St Patricks Day the other day - had a celebratory pint of guinness with the local workers ...who then passed out... they`re not very good at taking their alcohol, poor things, but it was a great St Patricks Day ,even if they really didn`t have a clue as to why they were celebrating it. Will be taking Japanese lessons soon, so hopefully, next time I write - I might be able to share with you a few words.

I only know rude ones at the mo. So thats just a small insight into life in Japan. It'ss pretty fun and pretty fluffy - I love it. have just been chatting to some ol d
American dude who`s been living here for twenty odd years. The great thing here is that as soon as you see a westerner/geigin, you immediately cling to them even if they`re a freak. They`re are lots of American and Canadians here and - and I am starting to pick up a few liddle words - sadly - the word `pants` will never be the same.

Thing I miss about england are - Eastenders, Pop Idol, B ig Brother when it starts, Hollyoaks, Blue Peter, Special k, Special k bars, Now magazine, Heat magazine, peanut butter, apple crumble and ice cream, Becci`s Gran`s mackerel pate, red double decker buses, Pepsi chart show, pubs on sunday.

Good news is that they do sell tomato ketchup here, Malteesers and of course there are plenty of smelly tramps and pesky pigeons here, so am feeling right at home - hurray. Hope you are all keeping well and mail me if your ever feeling bored. I`m in this internet place practically every day so plenty of time to chat - hurray.

© Mandy Iverson Brown - March 2002


Hackwriters will return for more gossip next month.

More on Japan
Helen Ruggiere
The old Japan, the old ways, will disappear. This generation wants change.

Shibuya No Techno

... if I try to understand everything about Shibuy
a, then I would not be really experiencing something that, by nature, defies understanding.

Brian R Wood in Tokyo

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