day eight--kono mama

I can't get enough of Japanese TV.

Last night I was watching this show that I assumed at first was some sort of dating, match-making thing.  There was one main girl dressed up really nice.  There were people sort of in charge of things.  It seemed like a reality based show.  But then I saw that the table of guys--who I thought maybe she had to choose from--were all wearing chef hats and coats.  And then I saw this little dish that looked like a fancy dessert, kind of decorated in the spirit of Christmas.  At this point I thought maybe they were cooking for her and trying to win her over, but when the "judging" started happening, it was the chefs holding up score cards.  I couldn't figure out what they were judging, especially because I assumed that they were the ones making the food.  As if assuming that the American viewers would be confused up until now, the creators of the show kindly put the judging categories in English (but nothing else).  These were the categories:
  • Safety
  • Heat
  • Impact
  • Name
  • Color
  • Oishii (delicious)
The show ended without me ever figuring out who or what was being scored.  I do appreciate, however, that while forming opinions of the thing (or person) at hand, the judges (chefs?) had to keep in mind not just the tastiness and quality of color, but whether or not any danger was at hand.  I'm also extremely curious what was meant by impact: emotional impact?  the overall punch that the product (person?) gave to the viewer (taster)?  The influence that the dessert (the girl?) will have over the consciences of these men?  The physical impact such a thing (or female) may have on the body?  Or perhaps the Japanese run their game shows in a different way than us, and rather than the girl having to score these men (or their food??) after only just meeting them, they were actually scoring themselves for her.  "Watashi wa "atatakai" toiu hito ka "iroiro" toiuno janai kedo, tashikani shinchouna hito desu yo!"


On a related note, I had an epiphany while watching TV in bed a few nights ago: The Japanese lived through the 70's and 80's, too!  And not all that differently than America.

This was from the most amazing and engaging show I've watched yet in our hotel.  Some kind of old music countdown, with a small audience that would watch music videos and then discuss each one and reminisce about them.  And maybe one or two of the people themselves were singers from the past.  And then they started bringing these old singers out on a stage to once again perform their hit songs, and everyone was freaking out and screaming and like "oh my god I loved Whoever-San!!!"  And then each performer would mingle with the audience members when their song was over, only to be equally surprised when the next old singer was brought out, because of course he or she had been one of his or her idols growing up.  I realized, after a long time of watching in amazement, that my legs and hips had been moving for a while.

Seriously, you don't need to know what they're saying.  It's all there.  And notice the little box in the upper right corner showing various audience members singing along.

 Who needs the internet when you could be dancing like that?


Today we went back to Harajuku and ate near the downtown shopping area.  Then, we went a few stops further and ended up back in Shinjuku, the skyscraper district.  We walked to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building, where you can ride the elevator to the 45th floor and walk around the observation deck--for free; the view is said to be even better than what you pay to see at the Tokyo Tower.  Of course, the way they getcha is with all the little souvenir stands in the middle of the floor.  I'm already a sucker for souvenirs and quarter machines (plus my cats love to play with the little plastic containers!), and the things you can find here so far have been much more impressive than anything I'm used to seeing at Food 4 Less or Winco.  This was part of my daily contribution to the Japanese economy:

A soramame--I'm assuming a relative of the edamame family--that pops out one of its beans when you squeeze it.  See how it's crying?!  It's homesick and misses it's lover-bean.  Coincidentally, I ate these for the first time last night when we had dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.  They're significantly bigger than edamame, and slightly more textured.  They had a sharp flavor, maybe a little pungent but in a good way.  Like little protein pills that you can chew!
The other thing is a miniature sign from the train stations, specifically from a stop along the Yamanote line, which we have been relying on for at least 1/3 of this trip.  From our hotel, we can take the Sobu line to Asakusa, where we transfer to Yamanote and can access from there the main Tokyo station, Shibuya, Harajuku, or a million other little stops along the way.  This sign is of the Nishi-Nippori stop, something I remember passing on our way to Kichijoji, where the Cat Cafe was located.

Tonight, though, we're going only one stop away from Asakusabashi to Akihabara--the "Electric Town."  Known as a mecca for electronics, all the buildings are gloriously lit up at night.  Mata ne!

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