Medication time

I tend to write about a lot of small, quirkier things I find in Tokyo, but for a long time I’ve been planning to write a longer series on what the day-to-day routine of Tokyo working life is actually like.  Luckily for me, this ad on the Tokyo subway does all the work for me:

To explain:

07:45 – Crushed in Tokyo subway.
09:00 –  Operate computer in wind tunnel.
13:00 –  Bolt down lunch at a standing ramen bar.
15:00 – Offer your business card to a customer, making sure to show respect by being knock-kneed.
16:00 – Carry a box of things somewhere – quickly!
18:30 – Erase the soul-crushing memories of all of the above by ingesting some booze, and plenty of it.

Of course, being marketing, this is not nearly realistic: no-one finishes work anywhere near as early at 6:30pm.


Drunk in space

This is the water cooler at my work.  The label reads:

“Daiohs ‘Pure Water’ is produced by the reverse osmosis process, the same technology used by NASA of the United States.  You will enjoy the clear taste as chilled water, or as hot water for coffee and tea.”

There’s two things I like about this label:

1. There’s something charming about “NASA of the United States”.
2. I’m fascinated by marketing that uses loose associations to build respect.  You have to admit that attempting to connect your filtered water to NASA is a lot punchier than “We use the reverse osmosis system: the same as everyone else.”

I one day hope to see: “Eat cheese, as infallibly consumed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI”.

Bathing in Osakan light

If you’re ever in Osaka at night, Dotonbori is the place to be.  It’s the central drag in Osaka jam packed full of people, energy, and lots of really good restaurants.  The motto in Osaka, after all, is kuidaore – eat until you drop.

With some much competition for diners on the street, businesses have to do something extra to stand out.  Apparently, it started out with this mechanised crab billboard:

…which was swiftly followed by imitations like this puffer fish:

…or these light-up demons shilling takoyaki (squid balls – highly recommended!):

…or this jolly gentleman, who looks like his mouth should move but didn’t:

One of the famous symbols of Osaka, the Glico Man, is just around the corner, nestled in a wall of writhing neon advertising:

Battle the throngs on a Saturday night, it’s worth it.  Not as Blade-Runnery as Tokyo, not Times Square-sy like New York, but genuinely charming in its own way.

All the cool kids are getting black lung

In Australia we’ve long been used to a lack of cigarette advertising.   The backs of glossy magazines in the 80’s usually featured a full-page cigarette ad set in a tropical paradise, made even better, of course, with the addition of smoking.  For some reason, they never seemed to feature pictures of smokers throwing their butts into the once pristine sand, to be consumed later by the local fauna.

In Japan, with cigarettes retailing at around $3.50 a pack and seemingly few restrictions on advertising, tobacco ads are everywhere. Although I’ve been here for a while, I still find it jarring to see something like this on the side of the road:

This one says “After you’ve savoured one, it will be hard to notice the smell”.   Apparently, I don’t know any smokers who use this brand.

Even better though: this. Black Impact.  Just what every smoker wants to be reminded of as they inhale.

There’s no question that this is a manly cigarette for manly men, as well as David Beckham impersonators wearing hats at jaunty angles.

Black Impact tells your lungs who’s boss.  They don’t co-operate, they know you’ll hit them with soothing, carcinogenic toxins wafting over from flavour country.  If they do co-operate… well, the outcome is the same really.

The billboards say no

Ah Osaka – I was there only six days ago but it feels like so long. At least we’ll always have pictures…

One of the hipper areas of Osaka is Amerika Mura (American Village), which is a bit like Tokyo’s Shibuya in that it’s trendy, crowded and anyone over 40 is banned from entering.

You’ve got lots of people against a street-scape so busy that it tears into your retinas:

You’ve got sharply dressed fellas like this:

…along with lots of billboards and shops lining a shady park:

Wait a second… Enhance! Contrast! Tint! Bright! Sleep mode! Vertical hold!

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Hmm, THREE empty billboards in a high traffic, highly visible area of town, where the demographic with the highest disposable income hangs out. No matter what any of the more optimistic armchair economists say, I’m pretty sure the world economy is not out of the woods yet.

While you wait for Economic Armageddon Round 2, please distract yourself with this video of Amerika Mura entitled Amerika Mura.

Treasures in junk mail

In my junk mail, a pamphlet advertising a moving company:

The possible wordplay in the domain name,, that in Japanese doyou means “Saturday” and hikkoshi means “to move house”.  So, you can read the web address as both “Saturday house moving” or “Do you move house?”.   Clever!

Interesting side note – the yellow speech bubble above the driver’s head is advertising that this moving company “uses kind-to-the-planet natural gas trucks!”.  As in other places, advertising promoting “eko” environmentally-conscious features have become very prominent in Japan.