The Changing Leaves in Hibiya Park and a Society of Avarice

On our way to pick up our Japanese bank cards (almost feeling settled in now), we went for a stroll in Hibiya Park. At the time there was some sort of musical concert going on, for which tickets were 5000yen (£45) at the entrance! Whilst there, I found a good example of the now changing leaves, demonstrated below.

Changing leaves

and

On Sunday we went to the Koenji Festival but there was little to see and nothing worth taking a photo of. I still can’t warm to the place, despite revisiting it with a somewhat neutral disposition.

On Sunday we also went to buy a mobile phone, which turned out being a complete waste of time, but more on that in a little while. It’s a symptom of where we live I’m afraid, that we are surrounded by rich people. In many cases it is the worst type of rich people – those that have never been anything but rich, or whose parents never bothered to explain to them what it means to not be rich, like a pet never being house-trained – they think it’s acceptable to crap on everything.

I am by no means saying that this only applies to the indigenous inhabitants. We were drinking in Roppongi on Saturday night with a group of basketball jersey donning Americans to our right. When a eon had passed, and we were finally being served, one of the American guys leaned over the crowd and shouted the barman, who rushed over to them leaving our cocktails half-finished. Three fingers were lifted up and the word ‘beer’ was uttered. The guy wordlessly fetched their beers, before continuing with our order, completely ignoring my friend’s demands of an explanation. The Americans didn’t pay for their beers. No doubt a tab had been set up by one of their parents. To add insult to injury, the round of 4 drinks, two of which were shots, came to 3,500yen (roughly £30). I won’t be going back there by choice.

On to mobile phones then. The first place we went to had a lady stood at the entrance explaining we would be waiting 90 minutes to see anyone, and if that was Ok. I didn’t bother asking her if it was Ok that I wasn’t going to give them any of my money. The next place we went to had a more modest twenty minute wait, after which we were conducted to a booth for a ‘consultation’. At this point we were told we need three forms of ID, and we were also told that our citizen card is ‘not good ID’. Ok, so the ID I had to go to the district office twice for, had to provide evidence of my visa and my address, and finally pay a sum of money for, is not good ID? Also we were told that a credit card would be better than our standard debit card. Because, you know, if you’re not a least a little in debt, you can’t really call yourself a real human being.

The guy jabbered on regardless and this is the potent part of the story. It was more the way he said it than what he said, as if I had asked a reasonable question, but had all the while been urinating on his leg. I told him I was happy with an ‘old’ model of an Andriod phone that came out in February. To which he replied, ‘Yes but this phone is old, two models have been out since then’. I asked him if there would be any compatibility issues with applications. No, he replied quickly, as if I had just asked the most irrelevant question possible. It reminded me of when my wife bought our camera. The new model was out soon, so the price had been lowered on the one we wanted. The sales clerk was pretty insistent that she may want to wait for the new model because it was 9% lighter and had an extra 0.5 of a mega-pixel for an extra £300.

The first question you are asked when you go into a mobile phone shop is if you want an upgrade. Obviously having an older model of the phone is some sort of hate crime. To cut the mobile phone story short, we were looking at, after the sales clerk had added on several compulsory extras, 8000yen a month for my phone and 10,000yen a month for my wife’s. So now I have the two plastic cups, but I need a piece of string long enough to reach to my wife’s workplace.

Next time, if ever, you are in Japan – especially an area like Roppongi – try to find anyone under 40 years old with an old model of an electronic product. We even saw a guy yesterday holding his iPad like a serving tray as he listened to music. He obviously just wanted to make sure everyone knew he was now in the club.

Before I left Britain I saw this sort of technological avarice in it’s infancy. I think the seed for this was the iPhone. People wanted the new model of it as soon as it came out. I’d ask what the new features were and they would give some vague comment about it being improved in all areas. That’s some serious consumer confidence for you. Then again these guys are experts. They strap the stick and carrot to your head and let you chase it for a while. Eventually they’ll let you have a nibble, and by the time you have raised your head from eating, there’ll be a better carrot there. Better how? Who knows. I just wonder how long it will be before the carrot gets too heavy for the donkey and how long these companies will have the gall to claim every product they release ‘Changes Everything’.

Anyway, rant over. It’s kind of cathartic to write it all down.

Have a better one!

Chris

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