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Another leisurely Saturday has come and gone. Today was a holiday (Umi no Hi, or Ocean Day) so I celebrated the way most people celebrate holidays in the U.S. and Japan: I went shopping.
The streets of Kichijoji, a shopping and tourist destination just two railway stops from my home, were packed with people. My host mother informed me that schools are now on summer vacation, although I didn't see all that many schoolchildren on the streets while there. Most of the shops in Kichijoji were similar to the department stores that I've seen around Tokyo, but most of the smaller shops cater to a younger audience. I was able to find several toy and variety stores, t-shirt shops, music stores, karaoke bars, and of course a healthy supply of arcades.
To blend the old with the new, many of the young women in the area were wearing their yukata, or summer kimonos. That still didn't stop them from shopping at the many shops in the area, or even working at those shops.
I also enjoyed a doughnut at Mister Donut, Japan's largest chain, which promises the "best donuts in the world." They aren't, but they're still tasty. I might have to make a habit of leaving even earlier in the morning to visit the Misudo near my home station.
One of the big priorities I have here is to play the games that aren't available in the U.S. Although there's still a healthy supply of fighting and puzzle games in Japan as in the U.S., the big attractions are games that involve some kind of physical challenge. I thought I had seen everything, but Kichijoji has the arcade which trumps them all: Capcom Plaza.
Located in the basement of the Loft department store (which also has an outlandish assortment of toys and stationery), Capcom Plaza takes its name from the massive producer of video games but features games from a variety of vendors. In addition to the usual assortment of slot machines, pachinko games, fighting games, and driving simulators, I also saw:
Elsewhere, there were all of the other Bemani games, including Beatmania, Guitar Freaks, and Keyboardmania. Other music games, like Pop'n Music and Taiko no Tatsujin, were still plentiful. There was even a heavy bag for people to punch, which reports the strength of the player's punch. At two punches for ¥100, it wasn't exactly the best value.
The main problem with all this gaming, of course, is that ¥100 isn't exactly cheap. At that much per game, or even ¥200 for some games, the money starts disappearing.
I didn't buy too much in Kichijoji, but I came up with some great gift ideas for friends and family back home. I'll come back a week or two before leaving once my credit card billing cycle rolls over. My only semi-major purchase: a FlashDIO USB drive. It works just like a hard drive on PCs and Macs, and I've already used it to move files back and forth between my Windows XP laptop and the Windows ME desktop downstairs. With luck, it will replace the floppy disk that I had to buy to save my work at school.
The routine seems to be going like this: on Saturday I can play around, but Sunday is reserved for work and studying. I have a fair amount of work to do, but I'm confident that I can get it all done in time for Monday.