Karaoke in Japan is a huge phenomenon that is extremely popular among everyone in any age group. It can be a past time for retirees, a hobby for students or just for working adults that need to take the stress off. There is no way you can walk down a street in the city without seeing numerous karaoke stores or staff on the streets handing out flyers, advertisements or holding a signboard yelling out the latest promotions.
The karaoke room you get varies from the number of people you have in your party. It also depends on the peak hours and whether the karaoke house is full up or not. You are also allowed to smoke in the rooms, so don’t be surprised if you smell smoke while walking through the corridors.
Songs are very up to date and they have a huge selection of English, Chinese and Korean songs too. Also, if you get hungry or you need a drink, be it alcohol or not, karaoke rooms also have menus that are quite affordable for food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Usually if you have a package, non-alcoholic drinks are free.
Japan has been trying to improve their creativity in food, including fast-food restaurants like MacDonalds. I have been working there for a year and seen many new products out on the selves. Below are two that has been out recently, but for a limited time.
I was quite curious on this new burger called McRIB because I was told it was delicious by my friends. Thought it has the same taste as Teriyaki Burger, but better aroma.
Let’s take a dessert ! Kinda sick of apple pie… it is good that this Bacon Potato pie came to my rescue. It reminded me of Campbell’s Baked potato with Cheddar and Bacon bits soup, which are impossible to find even in large supermarkets.
Majorities of the Singaporean would consider cycling as a sports in East Coast Park, but would never thought of it as a general mean of transport. Furthermore, it is not an easy task to ride along streets as Singapore traffic rules are too difficult to abide with. Just too many !
Surprisingly, Japanese uses bicycle like a normal transportation and sights of bicycles can be seen anywhere, yes even in the darkest corners of the streets. The interesting thing that you can find salary man in a suit and yet riding on a bicycle early in the morning. While some others use it as a substitute for walking from their home to the train station, and it is the reason why there are always that much of bicycles ‘gathering’ around train stations areas.
For me, it is a transport to and fro school, my part time shop and while going out with friends. Now, I would consider it very troublesome if I do not have a bicycle for my transport, the reasoning being taking a train to school (around 35 mins) and riding a bicycle to school (15 mins) is a much better choice, as in I can sleep for another 20 mins more every morning. Haha.
I was cleaning up my photo albums one day and I saw this interesting photo which thought it might be good to post it on my blog. One interesting fact in Japan is that are so many 7-11, family mart located along the street which are just few meters away, the streets are still being littered with vending machines selling drinks and cigarettes. I did a brief calculation the number of vending machines around a block and guess what ? There is a total of more than 20 vending machines ! A sight which you will never see in Singapore. These vending machines are available 24 hours along the street, so hooray for the smokers ! By the way, the cigarettes that are selling in Japan tasted and smell much better than those selling in Singapore…
Different Culture Views
Japanese certainly have a different views compared to Singapore in terms of control of cigarettes selling. While Singapore has banned cigarettes advertisement donkey years ago, Japan are selling them with vending machines and advertisements all over the place. Better still, they are also selling alcoholic drinks e.g. beers straight from the vending machines as well.
Control of Cigarette Selling to Underage
It is definite a question that how can they control underage from buying cigarettes from the vending machines. Initially while I was in Japan, I did not really see much control being done and there is only a message pasted onto the vending machines that underage should not smoke cigarettes.
A year later in Osaka, they have came out with a new system called the “Taspo” card, which you will need to register at one of their booth free of charge and tap the card on the panel before you purchase the cigarettes. Furthermore, they have implemented time restriction on the vending machines to operate till 10 or 11pm in the night and available at 5am in the morning at some places to strengthen the restrictions.
No long later, they have equipped all cigarettes vending machines with face recognition panel, and the camera will scan your face to determine your age. If you passed, you can buy the cigarettes without using the Taspo card. It was quite innovative way to control underage, but I am not sure how effective face recognition can be.
This is how the IC card looks like
Life Being Too Digitalised ?
While the Japanese has made it so convenient that is no human interaction at all. This could means technology are building up barriers between people and breaking communication. Looking at Singapore, if you are buying cigarettes from the same family mart or coffeeshop, at least the uncle or auntie will interactive and chat with you, but apparently Japanese like to stay in their own life without interference. In the instance of some restaurants, you can just go to the vending machine, make a selection of your intended lunch, make payment and bring the coupon to the counter. They will served you immediately. Without a word. Some could understand the convenient of such system as it bring ease and speed up proceed, especially foreigners like us, but you can just feel the lack of communication.
Too Much Electricity Usage?
Seriously, I am not sure who is paying for the electricity of these vending machines, but I think they are spending far too much electricity and resources in a densely populated province like Osaka. I think I will be fine with 7-11, at least I could grab a bite at the same time.
This is the Japanese Language School which I am currently studying at, located near the computer street, Nipponbashi and as well Namba, where you can find a lot of shopping areas.
MERIC Japanese Language School
1-10-6 Nippombashi-Higashi Naniwa-ku
There are staff who can speaks English, Mandarin and a female staff who can speaks Spanish.