I take my camera with me everywhere in Japan; for this reason, I carry a tiny Canon point-and-shoot, rather than the “my-lens-is-bigger-than-yours” SLR camera that shouts “TOURIST GEEK” in capital letters. (I have one of those, mind you, for those times when I want to be obnoxiously creative, snapping close-ups of flower petals or nose hairs or some such, but it doesn’t travel with me unless I have a car at my disposal.) Today, I went shopping for cookie fixings; I have had a hankering for chocolate chip cookies for a couple of days, and I was missing a couple of the key ingredients (chocolate chips and baking soda, in case you were wondering). As Japanese supermarkets offer a seemingly endless assortment of weird and wonderful products, I often find myself wandering aimlessly up one aisle, then down another, to see what new oddities I can unearth. For example:
Or how about these Moony Man disposable diapers, each variation featuring a different baby, each with a distinctly different attitude:
That last one is my personal favorite; the kid seems to be saying “So what did you expect, potty training awready? I’m only a year old, for heaven’s sake!”
A while back, a friend of mine, Al Brandt, told me a story that had me in hysterics. I may have a detail or two wrong, but this is the gist of it: Another friend, Bob Berg, had come to Tokyo, and Al agreed to serve as Bob’s guide around the city, showing him things he’d never have found easily, if at all, on his own. Bob, quite grateful, offered to take Al out for drinks. Al demurred, citing a prior engagement, upon which Bob asked if there was anything else he could do by way of appreciation. “Well,” Al replied thoughtfully, “You could buy me a cantaloupe.” A cantaloupe? Well, it turned out that Al had been craving a cantaloupe for a while, and just had not gotten around to getting one. Bob, for his part, thought he was getting off quite lightly, considering that he had planned on springing for at least a couple of rounds of drinks. “Hell,” he said magnanimously, “I’ll buy you two cantaloupes.” Al grinned contentedly, knowing full well what was about to transpire, and they headed off together to the supermarket. I will leave you to imagine what happened; have a look at the picture below, and be sure to note the price (the yen-to-dollar exchange rate is about 90-to-1…)
For the mathematically challenged, the 6500 yen cantaloupe pictured here runs about $72 US!