- Living in the Future - 未来に住んでいます  

kingofmonsters 39M
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9/7/2005 5:05 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

- Living in the Future - 未来に住んでいます


The other day I picked up what some of us playfully call my "gaijin card". It's actually called a "gaikokujintourokushite" which means, as you may have guessed by this point, "Alien Registration Card". Because I've gotten this, there are now more things available to me.

For example, now that I have my gaijin card, I can now open a bank account, I don't have to carry my passport with me all the time, and I was also able to get a phone.

For whatever reason, Japanese land-line phones are ridiculously expensive. However, cell phones are much more reasonable. And they are amazing.

For example, the newest American cell phones can do some limited web surfing, download some crappy games and ringtones, email, take pictures or video, and the really expensive models can do a few other nifty things. Generally, though, you're looking at spending a few hundred dollars (at least) for a good cell phone.

Let me tell you about how cool this cell phone is. It has video, pictures, video phone, English function (which is tremendously noticeable in Japan), English-Japanese dictionary, Japanese-English dictionary, Japanese dictionary (which doesn't really help ME, per se, but is cool), infrared connection, TV (and I can record things on TV to a mini SD), FM Radio, GPS mapping system, local information for anywhere in Japan, all of that PDA stuff like planners, and even more.

All of this and it cost me exactly nothing. It was free with my one-year service contract.

Part of that I believe comes from the ubiquitousness of cell phones in Japan, just about everyone (including a surprisingly large number of children) has cell phones and while you don't get as much talk time in Japan as you do in America, the majority of the traffic is email, which costs next to nothing.

Another thing that is surprising is the ubiquitousness of vending machines. They are EVERYWHERE and they sell ANYTHING. I'm serious. I was walking down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, no power lines or anything within sight, and I came upon a vending machine, fully stocked with hot and cold beverages.

You can buy food (hot or cold), soft drinks (hot or cold), cigarettes, beer, sake, condoms, toiletries, adult novelties, DVD movies, comic books and just about anything else from a vending machine in Japan, and they are always working (except the cigarette and beer vending machines are turned off after midnight), and they are always well stocked; only a couple of times did I come across a vending machine that was out of a drink, and they were full later that day when I passed them again.

They truly are living in the future over here.

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