Compliment any Japanese on how good their English is, or how pretty they look if female, and you may experience that famous Japanese modesty: the recipient of your praise will likely deny your kind words vehemently. This is because in Japan, modesty is considered a good trait to have, and someone who flaunts his or her talents openly rather than hiding them politely would be seen in a negative light. Sometimes Japanese modesty can be quite ridiculous: if you bake a cake for someone, you usually give it to them while saying something like "This probably doesn't taste good..." I've noticed that Japanese modesty stops short when it comes to money, however. I once caught a talk show which featured a big slope, and various famous guests would come, make some small talk with the host, then go sit somewhere on the slope to indicate how much money they a made annually. Poor swimsuit idol Yoko Kumada was stuck near the bottom of the hill, while famous actor and former baseball star Eiji Bando was happy to saunter to the top, indicating his considerable wealth.
It's still February, but signs of Spring are popping up everywhere. Suntory has brought out their new Spring-limited Sawayaka Harunama ("Refreshing Spring Draft Beer"), specially formulated to taste good while sitting under the cherry blossom trees enjoying the beauty of the sakura petals falling all around you. Along with School Sports Day in the Fall, Spring is one of the primary seasons for buying video cameras, and Panasonic is pushing their lineup of products to parents of first-graders who will be entering school -- who wouldn't want to record that event for posterity? This year's Panasonic commercial is really beautiful, filled with images of children running through dancing sakura trees while a loving mother records the scene. See it here (Flash required).
More pics from Tokyo. Although Akihabara is a great place to go for electronics, they have almost no good food places, and no Starbucks at all. So I chilled in a Mr. Dounut, whic is pronounced Mr. Dounuts in Japanese for phonetic reasons.
You can never tell if something is for real in Japan. Here's a little lion whose mane is made out of a dounut, called Pon De Lion. Is this a joke on Juan Ponce de León, the colonizer of Florida, or a weird accident?
The Japanese word for bread is "pan," since the Porguguest brought it to Japan many centuries ago. In case you don't know what you're looking at, it's Melon Bread and Curry Bread. Melon bread doens't contain melon, it's just called that because it looks like a honeydew melon, sort of. It's also said to look like brains.
This is what's known as a kanban musume or "signpost girl" because her cute face sells more melon bread. It certainly sold some to me. Man, I love living in Japan.