genki_rocket: (pic#1294625)
My birthday is June 15th.

In the states, this day usually falls during summer vacation when it's hot and sunny outside. It's been this way all of my life.

In Japan, however, my birthday happens to be right around the time that rainy season starts (at least here in Kyushu). The moisture in the air is ramped up to 'miserable' and you're forced to shift gears from the amazingly mild weather of spring in preparation for the unrelenting monster of summer.

Behind my apartment complex sits a decent-sized rice field. In the spring and summer, it's brilliantly green and beautiful. In late fall and winter, it's harvested, brown and depressingly barren. However in rainy season, it's full of life.

Right now, I'm listening to a massive frog orgy take place outside my apartment. Somewhere in the rice field, hundreds (if not a couple thousand) are fucking their brains out in the water. The cacophony that they make is surprisingly calming. It happens in waves - gradually getting louder and louder and then slowly dying back out again. Then it will be silent for a while until one frog starts it again with a shrill croak.

With rainy season, all kinds of life comes back from winter hibernation. Frogs, snails, lizards and, of course, insects. I've already found a few spiders and a cockroach or two in my apartment. After dealing with them surprinsingly well, I've surrounded the entrances of my place with poison powder to keep out any other unwanted guests (like poisonous centipedes).

Thanks, rainy season!

Inside my apartment, the evidence that rainy season has begun is undeniable. The calligraphy boards that I have stuck to my wall are leaping to their deaths as the humidity renders the sticky putty on the backs of them useless. My posters get crinkly and other unfortunate papers that I have lying around my house begin to dampen. Fruit that I have lying out will go bad in triple the time - bananas? Forget about it. Avocados? Done. It's terrible.

My clothes are impossible to dry without taking them to the laundromat and I have to consistently keep up cleaning my bathroom and shower room for fear of mold growing instantaneously. Even in places you'd never expect (laundry piles, tatami, on the walls), mold can pop up ridiculously fast.

And let's not forget: the rain itself. When I first came to Japan, my fellow ALTs were talking about how much rainy season sucked. "Yeah," one of my friends said. "It literally rains ALL DAY!"

I thought to myself 'wow, that sounds like it DOES suck....but really? All day? No wayyyy."

Having lived here for two years now, let me assure you: in the height of rainy season, it DOES INDEED rain all fucking day.

This is especially unfortunate when the only means of transportation I have is a bicycle. It's an incredibly shitty feeling to be riding your bike in the middle of a pouring rainstorm. Even with a raincoat and pants, you still get soaked. And if not from rainwater, from your own sweat.

On Saturday, it rained so much that there were flood watches in effect (I believe). They made an announcement over the city speakers warning people not to go close to the rivers or the water. The rice field behind my house disappeared for a short time and I found myself living on lake front property.

from this

to this (taken from a different angle, but you get the idea)

So whereas my birthday in the US is hot, sunny and during summer birthday in Japan is muggy, rainy and toward the end of the first semester. Unfortunately, this whole thing lasts for about a solid month. It's just something you've got to deal with living here, I think.

During rainy season, I find that since I don't see the sun for long periods of time, I get really bitchy and irritable. I'm definitely not the only one, though. Everyone seems to go through a brief dip of negativity. It's inevitable, I think. My goal this year is to try and get through it as quickly as possible.
genki_rocket: (pic#1294605)
I love recycle stores in Japan.

In the US, I would occassionally go to Goodwill or other secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange etc. The potential for finding treasures there was always high and I often found quirky, strange and sometimes horrendous clothing and objects that I'd proudly claim as my own.

In Japan, secondhand stores are ridiculous. There are normal shops that are about the size of a Goodwill or so, but the quality of items is so much higher here. I guess that in Japan, something is considered 'old' after roughly two years. So because of this, it's possible to find some sweet deals on everything from clothes to cameras and games etc.

There are regular recycle stores, but they also have GIANT recycle stores. At least in Kumamoto, there are quite a few of them. Stores that have everything. Like...quite literally they have EVERYTHING!

These super stores are incredible because they have so many goods to offer. Clothes, accessories, figurines and toys, games, game systems, collector's trading cards, manga, anime, dirty magazines, fishing equipment, UFO catchers, purikura, various hobby stuff etc etc etc etc

In my city, one of these super stores opened up and it's been a madhouse ever since.

The thing about these stores that I've noticed, though, is that I can only be in them for a certain amount of time before I need to leave. It's so overstimulating and I really don't think that my brain can handle it.

For example, you enter the store via the game section. There are massive displays of Xboxes, PS3s, Wiis and other consoles with decorations thrown all over. In the game section, there's a massive Mario statue and further into the store they have a huge display devoted to One Piece complete with a big TV that's blaring an episode on loop.

There's also American pop music blasting in the clothing section, various other music blasting in the CD/DVD section (five feet away), videogames that are blipping and blopping and nonstop looping videos on the garish AKB48 shrine.

And over all of this, there's an intercom that the poor workers yell into to inform the people who are selling their goods. Among this, they also repeatedly welcome you into the store and thank you for your patronage.

If this weren't an onslaught for your ears already, there are dozens of interesting things that demand attention for your eyes. There are videogames to be played with, toys in various poses to see, bright, flashing signs, cute characters and other oddities like this:

and yes, that is a crucified Kermit the Frog.

It's quite easy to get lost inside these labryinths for an hour or more. There's just so much to see and do. I feel so bad for the poor workers, but I assume one would get used to it after a while.

So yeah, in closing, Japanese recycle stores are great. They're full of weirdness and novelty shit that I think American ones could benefit from dearly!
genki_rocket: (Default)

{Take the 100 Things challenge!}

I'm going to do 100 things about living in Japan. I think there'll be enough shit for me to talk about!

I plan to write about it here and then crosspost it to LJ :D



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Genki Rocket

July 2012

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