I love Japanese commercials! So much stuff to see, so many interesting offers. My favourites are the following two:

The first one is a commercial for a vitamin compound called DHC.
It generally shows two girls with ...extremly huge breasts, the camera closing up all the time - the changes in perspective were similar to those in the first part of Lara Croft ;-). The two girls, hardly wearing any clothes round up the picture by alluringly whispering "it`s our secret". What is meant, is never said explicitly...
Well, vitamin C for cupsize A. I`m looking forward to the "male" version of that product... *hehe

My absolute favourite is the commercial for another vitamin supplement. The viewer sees a mother whirling through the house, accompanied by snappy music, cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, ironing, making breakfast for children and husband, etc.
Then you see another scene, in which the dutyful housewife looks towards the camera, almost crying, and confesses full with shame, "I`m a little bit exhausted" But wait! To save your kudos, you can now use... hm, well, I forgot the name, but several vitamins in form of little, colored balls... in the lasty scene you see the housewife leaping through the house like crazy, while in the foreground the product is described in detail.

That`s my type of women: self-sacrifying, ambitious, housework is her life!
I`d be really cudious, how many women in Japan fall for that kind of stuff, respectively identify themselves with that type of women...


to pay or not to pay

During my two weeks in Tokyo I found something, that surprised me completely. It was in the middle of the city, a food/goods stand, with potatoes, flowers, New Years Eve decorations etc., but no vendor. A sign said that you could take whatever you wanted, one could voluntarily pay the price that`s written on small tags. Now, a, upright person with a pure conscience and manners pays, everybody else... not.
Something kept me from taking the potatoes just like that, although all banks were closed since New Year and we hadn`t hardly any money. It wasn`t the gnarling in my stomach, that`s for sure...
It is interesting that such a system exists in Japan but not in Germany (and I haven`t seen it in the US as well).


New Years Eve

End of the year, end of the decaede, end of the century, end of the millenium - where could you celebrate thet better than in Japan, at the most traditional shrine, the Meijijingu in Tokyo? Of course, it`s a little bit hard to wait for three long hours in the cold, outside, just to be in the first row - but it`s definitively worth it.

Although me and my girlfriend didn`t see too much of the guy hitting the Taiko, because we moved under that huge green (!) tree on the right to avoid getting wet - even more, five minutes before midnight a police man had his post directly in front of us.
From ten o`clock the crowd grew bigger and bigger, but there was enough police to keep everything quiet and disciplined. The priviliged class could pay it`s way into the inside of the shrine for 10.000 Yen, the plebs had to stay outside and throw their hard earned money onto the shrine`s stairway - exactly what happened at midnight, my head still hurts of all those 1 Yen coins. ;-)

Shortly before midnight, the whole ceremony began with a song, maybe the Japanese hymne, I`m not 100 percent sure about that. The comforting of interesting thing was that hardly anybody sang the song (just very few did), the crowd was using their mobiles, talking, laughing, counting backwards, etc. No fanatical or nationalistiv emotions, a loud choir and people holding their hand to their hearts as I experienced that before basketball games in the US. ;-)
Also interesting was that just a few people carried alcohol. If I recall the New Years Eve celebrations in Germany, it seems as if one of the goals of the evening is to barf and fill at least three buckets.
One could also easily spot the foreigners in the crowd, most were a head bigger than the average Japanese.

According to several statements 3.5 Million Japanese visit the Shrine in the three days around New Years Eve, they certainly get a lot of money out of it, if everybody throws a few Yen. The throwing aspect remembered me a little bit of carnival in Germany, just with the difference that on German carnival sweets with exceeded expiration date are dumped on people, not the other way around.

After the first wave of visitors was done with throwing money and praying for more money, health, kids, or world peace, they had to move to present and souvenir dens on the right - at the same time, the police opened the barricades and a new wave of visitors was allowed to throw their money. That has been repeated until well after two o`clock, but we had enough after five minutes and went for a walk through the park. On some paths, boyscouts were posted, guarding open fire which alluminated the dark park, the surrounding trees. It kept us warm, but the sparks kept the guards busy. Considering Edo`s/Tokyo`s long history with disastrous infernos, it was a little bit risky to put up those fireplaces.

The next day we heard in the news about vandals at the shrine, which we must have missed that night. About 30 people, mostly teenagers, vandalized at the shrine and fought with the police - considering the huge police presence, that was pretty studid.



Glitter, flimflam, music, consume addictions at Takashiya and masses of customers at Isetan, here you can find everything. The only difference you can notice to christmas in Germany, for instance, is, when you stop for a second, sit down and look around you.

On the one hand, the whole event is almost the same, but without the smell. No german Gluehwein, sold in little stores outside, no "Lebkuchen" filling the air with its distinct smell, sold to the hungry souls in the Japan-typical five gramm portions, wrapped three or more times into plastic. You can also notice that all christmas trees are not real, but made from plastic - and they sing Jingle Bells or Santa Comes To The City while blinking with their illuminated eyes as well.

The number of people outside, looking for the perfect present, is impressive, too. I don`t stop wondering how many Japanese - mostly women - run around when I troll at Shijo-Kawaramachi in Kyoto or Omotesando in Tokyo. I shudder when I see how many of them are wearing summer clothing. Sandals, partly without socks, short skirts and the like, and all that at temperatures hardly above zero. You can argue if that is Japanese discipline and strong will or subduing to peer pressure and lack of originality. They earn my respect.

The predjudices that Japanese celebrate Christmas with strawberry cake and candles combined with the twelve piece party pack from Kentucky Fried Chicken don`t die out. Spending Christmas Eve alone without a boy or girlfriend is almost a loss of the face for every young japanese single.

For the churches, Christmas is the time in year to remember their followers to go to church instead of watching Jack Frost at Wowow. A small village in Aomori prefecture called Herai, goes a step further:

The inhabitants claim that a 21 year old Jesus came to Japan and lived for eleven years in Etchu province, studying Japanese beside other subjects. The "Legend of Daitenku Taro Jurai" decribes how Jeses returned to Judea after eleven years and teached about the holy country, Japan until his 33rd birthday. As those teachings were too radical for his time, he was condemned to death. He managed to escape crucification and his brother Isukiri (notice the typical hebrew name ;-) has been nailed to the cross instead. Jesus fled with his disciples, carrying the hair of the Virgin Mary and the ear of his brother. His journey ended in Japan, where he changed his name and married a japanese woman named Miyuko. He is said to have fathered three daughters and lived to his 106th birthday. The whole story doesn`t seem to be in accordance to the Holy See in the Vatican, as this version of the events messes around with the fantastical belief of God pardoning peoples` sins by Jesus crucification and resurrection. I wonder if il papa knows about Herai?

If you are halfway interested in that topic, call Kirisuto no Sato Denshokan, phone number 0178 78 3741. No guarantees for spiritual enlightment.