Odds & Ends (part 6).

  • Until a few weeks ago, I had never really patronized Starbucks. I don’t enjoy coffee and find them a bit overpriced in general. However, before I had a phone (and occasionally after), Starbucks was the best source of free wi-fi around. Since it’s pretty gauche to use their internet without buying something, I buy a small vanilla frappuccino and nurse it there. I even made a friend the first time I went: an unusually-bold employee named Taka, who quickly took an interest in talking to someone who spoke English and even came over to chat on his break. I go less often now that I have a phone and can use the Tamachi wi-fi two days a week, but it’s nice to know the option is there.
  • Men’s shampoo in Japan often contains menthol. The bottle Ayumi recommended for me has it, and I see ads on the train for a different shampoo that advertises “scalp smash”. I think it’s supposed to stimulate the follicles or feel cleaner or something. I think it feels weird.
  • I visited Nakano on Monday. Just outside the station, a crowd had gathered to watch two clowns perform. They weren’t red-nose/facepaint clowns, but more vaudeville style. I’d missed the beginning, but stayed for the rest of the show. They were amateurs, but skilled performers, able to work the crowd and cover for minor mistakes. I haven’t really seen a lot of street performers in Japan, so it was a rare treat.
  • Saw something unusual on the train: a couple was watching videos on a phone and laughing, both loud enough that other people in the car could hear it. Another couple had sat down beside them, but after a stop or two, they very gracefully got up and switched cars (rather than glaring or saying something).
  • Shinya, his hard-won prize, and me.

    Earlier this week, I found a little indie game center in Akiba. Nothing exciting, but there was a group of four people around college age trying to win Love Live!-themed iPhone accessories from a machine like the key-pulling game I used to be good at. They hadn’t been having great success, but I lingered to watch them, since watching someone else win a prize is its own form of enjoyment. I eventually suggested a couple tricks I used, and even demonstrated, and it seemed to help one guy finally win his case. He wanted a photo after of the two of us, and when I asked for a copy, the easiest way to send it was Facebook. I chatted for a while with the guy, whose name is Shinya, and stayed long enough to watch another of their group win something as well before leaving. I make friends in odd places here.

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