The Land of Confusion (Japan)

Japan ~ Osaka – 2015

What do you think of when you hear Japan? Probably a lot of things flash by in an instant…from the deep rooted cultural elements, to the checkered history, the strange and bizarre…all the way to Pokémon and Dragonball Z (as well as so much more) – it’s safe to say that Japan has always painted a colorful tapestry for themselves, one unlike any other place on earth.

Like most western folks I confess I have a rather bare knowledge regarding the so-called land of the rising sun…but that’s alright – as it’s always more exciting and rewarding to go into a place totally unprepared! Every sense is more receptive – your eyes wide like a newborn baby…not wanting to blink so as not to miss anything as you stare up and around at all the newness in front of you. Like being unplugged from The Matrix – all of the preconceptions and travel guides can go out of the window, as you are witnessing it all first hand…you are truly living it in real time. And if you are lucky, nothing will be like it seemed from your armchair back home.

Exhilarating right? RIGHT! So how would all of these aesthetic commodities manage to impossibly mesh together then ? I didn’t have the foggiest idea – but of course I was still beyond curious! I mean…what would I find behind Japan’s veil of mystery?

Curtain GIF

Well my friends I will say this…Japan is weird and wonderful – no actually, wait – let me rephrase that…Japan is weirdly wonderful. You see many things in Japan are weird; very very weird – but the weirdness often makes them wonderful…and the things that are wonderful, wellllll they still often cling to a certain sense of weirdness. Sorry…I know I’m sounding like some sort of deranged Willy Wonka right now…but this is the best way I can think to sum it up! 

You see there’s battles on every single street corner! And by “battles” I don’t mean Pokémon battles (to my great disappointment), but battles between juxtaposing cultural elements…it’s bizarre, it’s crazy…but they manage to meld together in the strangest of ways…it shouldn’t work…they shouldn’t be able to coexistbut somehow they do in a way only Japan can manage. 

Think the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang – two opposing forces that form together in perfect unison…well yeah it’s like that except rather than good/evil, or light/dark it’s Buddhist temples and pornographic manga characters…to give just one of many examples…

Unbelievable GIF

There’s also a perfect fusion between the old and the new which I found rather fascinating. On the one hand you are ordering your food through a machine in a restaurant rather than dealing with humans…very Bladerunner-ish…but then on the other side of things you are paying in coins to get a paper ticket stub to ride a rather dated subway!  I like this idea though…not everything has to be updated, smooth, and futuristic – then again I’m biased as I still dream of living in a castle with a moat in the next ten years, so perhaps you shouldn’t pay attention to silly old me!

Mind one thing I didn’t quite enjoy as much was the confusing nature of the transport system…it actually seemed intentionally difficult. The lines criss-cross in the most nonsensical ways imaginable – I would assume because they were just built one after another, and so the map took shape without forward-planning…either that or the architect dropped a bowl of noodles and thought “mehhhh, good enough!”

Anyway, what that means for the user is that they are sure to pull their hair out attempting to understand that which cannot be understood! I’m not even talking about the fact that it is all strictly in Japanese; which sure is frustrating but as I was in Japan I felt was fair enough! I’m really just raving at the layout of the tracks, and routes…my advice is this; attempt to be constantly partially intoxicated on Japan’s surprisingly good, and cheap selection of beers – that way you won’t mind as much, and will just go with the flow!

“Oh, we went the wrong way by 20 minutes? Never mind…these things happen! Let’s go!” as opposed to: “FUCCCCK! WHY DOES THAT LINE GO THAT WAY?! WHY DOES IT HAVE THE EXACT SAME STATION NAME MINUS ONE NUMBER! WHY AM I NOT DRINKING BEER RIGHT NOW?!” – it’s really your decision, but I feel comfortable with my choice.

Smug GIF

I came to the end of my trip seriously wanting more…which has to be a positive? Sure there had been some lows – losing on Tekken to a young Japanese kid which basically destroyed my entire belief that I was a master of that game…continually relying on body language rather than spoken words, so much so that I now feel like a professional body-popper…and finding out there are so few vegetables in the Japanese diet that I may have scurvy, BUT – despite all of this it has piqued my interest massively as both a country, and as a culture – due to that I want to return very soon…next time Tokyo I reckon, so I can experience a change of pace – mind, I’ll still be going in as a rather clueless and ignorant tourist; and you know what?

That suits me just fine. 

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Tweety Bird

The other day I was at a shopping center, and needed to pee. Nothing out of the ordinary there! After all, I often need to pee…well not often, I don’t have bladder problems, or weird kidneys – don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like a running to the bathroom every two seconds thing, just you know sometimes – I just drink liquid, and then…it’s like…I think we are over-thinking this, can we please move on?

Ahem. So yeah, errr…I headed to the bathroom…

Bieber Nervous GIF

I walked past a guy leaning on the wall, who then decided he would tail me in…quite odd behaviour – I would have probably been more concerned was I not bursting so much to urinate. In fact, I would have definitely highlighted him in my peripheral vision as a possible lunatic, and taken the necessary steps (using a cubicle) so I wouldn’t have to deal with him. But the burning pain of the wee-wee clouded my judgment. 

Instead I just picked a urinal (hate that word, I know you didn’t ask – but still, urgh), and got down to it. He was a starer…I could feel his eyes on me, you always can – I tried to man-oeuvre myself for minimum genital visibility, using a bit of coat, and left hand to provide some camouflage…but he didn’t give up – this whole process made my whole process stop, I couldn’t handle the pressure of the sudden audience I had…but I was strangely still desperate to go…if only he would stop staring this whole thing could be over with! I began to sweat, and shake – as the sharp shooting pains ran through my lower regions.

sweat nervous GIF

I changed tactic. I began to stare back at him, not like…at his…I wasn’t doing eye for an eye, I was staring at his eyeballs instead – I also coupled this with a look which I hoped said loud and clear; “I am not enjoying this little exchange, so can you kindly please stop staring at my penis, thank you ever so much, and good day!”

He turned away, the complete relief flooded out – I turned to read the advertisement on the board in front of me, something about hair-loss by the looks of it…I pondered whether I would ever get it done, will I go bald? I am not sure if-

“TWWWWEEEETTTT, CHIRRRUPPPP, TWEEET – TWEEET!”

I instantly spun around to face him again, he was smirking…what a psychopath…oh, hahahaha – let’s pick out a guy who is clearly dying to pee, and then torment him so that he can’t do it…let’s stare at him, let’s make strange weird noises, everything, anything – to drive him MENTAL.

I tried not to let him bother me, I stared into the other corner…imagined running water…visualised the wee-wee…

“TWWWWEEEETTTT, CHIRRRUPPPP, TWEEET – TWEEET!”

There he was again. And what could I do? I can’t exactly run up to a police officer, and announce “excuse me, this man…he won’t let me pee!”  I mean, I certainly haven’t ever witnessed that on an episode of CSI – maybe they should do a story-line regarding that subject, make people aware that this stuff does happen, and it needs to STOP!

“TWWWWEEEETTTT, CHIRRRUPPPP, TWEEET – TWEEET!”

He turned to face me, smirked…and then headed out of the door, obviously didn’t wash his hands, but then again who has time to wash their hands in between creep sessions? He has a schedule to keep Godddamit!

But at last I was alone, at last I could pee in peace.

Leo relief GIF

In that moment, I was on top of the world – had someone else been there, I may have attempted a high five…well actually, that would be very unhygienic, but you get my point – it was a simple pleasure, but an amazing one…it felt like a victory for some reason.

“TWWWWEEEETTTT, CHIRRRUPPPP, TWEEET – TWEEET!”

There he was again!?!?! As I was washing my hands, I looked around the corner, expecting to seem him perched there giggling to himself….I checked the cubicles…I began to wonder if I had imagined it all in some bizarre delusion…

“TWWWWEEEETTTT, CHIRRRUPPPP, TWEEET – TWEEET!”

That’s when I looked up, and saw a huge speaker with the words “BIRDS_RELAX_1”

Naturally I felt like a fool – but then I did the usual self protection of my ego, internally questioning as to why anyone would create such a device. Especially in a men’s bathroom…could there be anything more scary, and less relaxing, than a bird of prey circling a man with his err, manhood, out?

Pfft…well, at least I know for next time. Sorry for the hostile stares Mr. Creeper!

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