3 in 30 - 2001.01.21 Sunday

book store

While out doing some Sunday afternoon errands, I didn't remember ever showing either of the two book stores near the train station. They are on opposite sides of the street and both seem to be always busy selling books and magazines. At the convenience stores, the magazine racks seem to always have someone looking through the magazines.

It is striking to us that Japan is one of the most literate nations in the world. The reason we find it striking is because of the complexity of the written Japanese word. Besides the 55 or so hiragana characters, there are the 55 or so katakana characters, and before a student leaves middle school, they must know over 1250 kanji (Chinese type) characters. Not only does each kanji have several different sounds, but they often have several radically different meanings.

Your writer can recognize perhaps four dozen kanji but can only remember how to write a dozen.

game cockpit

In contrast to being perhaps the most literate, young Japanese tend to like their electronic games. This game room is next door to the bookstore above. Why, yes, there is another game room next to the bookstore across the street too.

The young man near the doorway is looking over another player's shoulder. He seems to be wearing his school uniform this Sunday afternoon. Nearly any time of day or night, week days and weekends, you can see students in their uniforms coming and going.

School uniforms are a whole story. That you see them at all hours of the day and night is still another story.

Scooters in the bike parking area

  The combination of walkways, bike paths, bicycles and abundant, available public transportation seems to be a positive mix for a healthy community. We are particularly conscious of this having come here from a location where public transportation seems to be a foreign concept. Americans seem to have a love affair with personal, individual means of transportation. Witness all the automotive advertisements that seem to promise health, spiritual fulfillment and ready access to the opposite gender.

  With the success of the Japanese economy, more and more Japanese are opting for individual transportation while in the process of degrading the living conditions of this city of 30 million.

  These are small motorscooters lined up in the bicycle parking area. Some of them have overstayed their welcome and have parking tickets. About once a month, they bring in a truck and haul off a couple of dozen scooters.

This file was last updated on 21 Mar, 2023