What do you think of when you think of Tokyo? Bright lights? Electronics? Robots? Lots of advertising?
Here are 12 things you might not know about Japan.
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Konnichiwa boys and girls! I was recently lucky enough to cash in some frequent flier miles and visit Japan. Along the way I took notes, giving me some pretty cool content to bring you 3-4 episodes on Japanese marketing and pop culture. While many of the things I saw were what I expected, there were quite a few things that took me by surprise.
Could Tokyo possibly be bigger, brighter, and bolder than New York City? Lets find out.
Here are the Tokyo 12.
1. Advertising Equality
If you picture parts of downtown Tokyo as one giant, brightly-lit neon television commercial, you’re not far off. For example, thousands of people cross intersections near Shibuya Station as billboards and LCD screens tower above them, pushing Coca Cola and cell phones. You’re a long way from Kansas.
But is it any different from New York or other major US cities? Not really. While the JR subway line might have little advertisements on the hanging straps and a small TV monitor in each car, I’ve seen the entire subway car on the shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square or giant city buses wrapped in advertisements. There was definitely lots of advertising, but at a level was about what I was used to.
2. Electronics Letdown
One of the must-see side trips on my list was a visit to Akihabara, or Japan’s ‘electronics town.’ I was prepared to see 3D television sets, $500 laptops I could fold up and put in my pocket, and of course, a land of robots. I couldn’t wait to bring back some type of secret gadget that no one in the US had even heard of yet. At the next party, everyone would gather around and marvel at this piece of next generation technology and ask, where can I get one of those? To which I’d smugly reply, it’s not available in the US.
So it was to my disappointment that the stores were more WalMart than Wired. In fact, it reminded me of the not so glamorous electronics vendors here in New York. The ones that tourists go to, but not residents. iPods? Same price as the Apple store down the block from me. Digital cameras? Talk to me when you can beat Amazon.com’s price. And Robots? We had to trek up four flights of stairs to get to the one building out of 50 that had robots, only to find the decent ones priced at hundreds and even thousands of dollars.