This week we have some more adventures in shopping in Japan, this time in Machida, much closer than the previous trip out to Shinjuku. Machida is also a stop on the Yokohama line, but only two stops away, which translates to about 6-9 minutes time on the train itself. This adventure is sparked by the need for supplies to facilitate an ongoing exercise in collaborative storytelling to facilitate communication and understanding between international students in Japan. In other words, we went to Machida to get the many sided dice that are required to play role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. I hope to get some group pictures of our party once we actually start playing. If my transportation specialist had known this was going to occur, he would surely have packed his own dice, saving us the trip. Instead, I got another outing into the wider world and got to see more of this country.
Our first stop was to Tokyu Hands, a department store in Machida. They carry various items from camping gear to clothes, to cookware and toys. They always have multiple clerks manning the registers. Malls in Japan I’ve visited so far are laid out differently that the ones I’ve known in the Wichita, where my transportation specialist is from. There malls are famous for sprawling over entire city blocks, sometimes two stories, but just as often only one story,
with parking for acres around. Everywhere there is a sense of space, with the second floor if there is one having an open view onto the lower floor. There will be a food court in the center with fast food restaurants clustered in the center, with a large amount of seating surrounding. As with many things I’ve learned, it’s different in Japan. Here malls are six to eight story affairs that if they offer any parking it is in one or two basement levels that are only the size of a Dillard’s or JC Penney’s footprint in the States. The whole affair is very closed in, as the floor above precludes any type of skylight on any of the floors. One or two floors are dedicated to restaurants, but instead of the fast food of Taco Bell or Subway, they are sit down affairs who offer excellent food at prices that seem very inexpensive in the States. In the toy section of Tokyu Hands we did find dice, but our Game Master thought the price would be cheaper at another store we planned to visit later, so we looked around some more before heading on to into Machida.
We still had some time before the store we planned to get the dice from opened, so we visited a couple of arcades that were in the area. Arcades in Japan are still fairly popular, although not very crowded during our visit. I was disheartened to see that a particular form of Stuffed Animal cruelty that I’d seen but not experienced personally in the States was also practiced in Japan.
Witness the Claw Machine. Although the precise mechanism differs, the basic concept remains the same. Stuffed animals, often immigrants from China, are held against their will, often overcrowded, sometimes restrained as in this case, and the “player” deposits money for chances to extract one of the Plushies in question. I hope I don’t have to tell you how demeaning this whole procedure is for the stuffed animals held in bondage, or how traumatic extraction by claw can be. There were numerous machines of this time on the first floor of both arcades we visited, demonstrating how wide spread this type of abuse is. Contact your local chapter of the ASPCSA, and your Congressmen to let them know you will not tolerate this. You may not be able to help Plushies in Japan, but you can help America lead by example, as a light to the world.
On the second and third floors of both arcades were more traditional video games from fighting games, and piloting games to horse racing games. I’m not sure exactly if they were games where you play to make your horse go faster or more of a betting game where it works much like a live horse race. The line in Japan can be somewhat fuzzy at times.
We did find a Pokemon tournament style game in the second arcade that I took some time at. The selection was somewhat small, maybe 20 out of 700+ Pokemon, but the controls were somewhat simple. It worked more like a fighting game rather than using any of the recognizable moves of the Pokemon involved. A fun diversion for 20 minutes for 100 yen, but it didn’t really pull me back.
Our final stop was the venerable Yellow Submarine. These seem to be everywhere to satisfy the gaming needs of Japan. While the Game Master selected the dice we would need for the adventure, my transportation specialist perused the selection of card games (all in Japanese, of course) that were available. This location was all contained on the second floor in one room, but had a good selection of individual cards on display for purchase as well as sealed packs for play. They did not seem to have a display of Pokemon cards the other location had, but that may be one of the facets that justifies visiting more locations in different areas.
Having purchased the dice for our game, the Game Master and my transportation specialist prepared to leave. My transportation specialist promises to take me to shrines, temples and other notable landmarks in the area, but with classes beginning, I wonder how much he’s gonna get out. We will see next week.
Until then, Hippo, Hippo!