What I do for… fun!

14 Sep

As much as it seems like all I do for fun is go to Tokyo and see concerts of boybands, this is not 100% the case.  For one thing, there are in fact a few fun things to do in Gunma!  For another thing, I haven’t changed from the hermit I was in college and also consider spending the weekend never leaving my apartment to be fun.

On the Gunma front, while Kiryu is fairly small and quiet for a city, it’s fairly nicely located in terms of getting places for fun.  It falls smack in the middle of the JR Ryomo train line, which connects Oyama in Tochigi, a neighboring prefecture, with Takasaki, the largest city in Gunma.  I live about a ten minute bike ride from the Kiryu station, and therefore I have fairly easy access to some bigger cities in Tochigi as well as Maebashi, the capital of Gunma, Isesaki, another large city in Gunma, and Takasaki.  There are malls in all three of these places and a movie theatre in Maebashi, but for shopping, I really like Takasaki for one particular reason: there’s a decent sized mall actually attached to the train station.

ImageI’ve never really experienced this in America, but in Japan, department stores or malls being attached to train stations is completely normal.  On a rainy, cold, or hot day, one never needs to go outside from the train to go shopping!  There are a lot of fairly cheap clothes stores with cute things, a hair accessory store, a few shoe stores, a book store, and a really delicious Indian restaurant in the mall in Takaksaki station, so I’ve been there to go shopping a couple of times.  One time, S and I went along with some other JETs from Kiryu, and it was a lot of fun!

One particular thing we did with the Kiryu JETs is another popular Japanese pastime: purikura.  Purikura is wasei eigo (as I explained a few posts back) for “print club” and is essentially the phenomenon of photo booths, only these photo booths blow their American counterparts out of the water.  Not only do the machines most often have automatic photo editing to make the subject of the photo’s eyes larger, eyelashes longer, and skin even (and even usually add makeup to the eyes and face, too!) they also have a huge array of decoration that can be added to the photos, from bows and hats to glitter and sparkles to words and stamps with the date.  Despite how odd it seems, I find it to be a lot of fun!

ImageOn the flip side, other fun things I’ve been doing include watching variety shows and dramas and other Japanese viewing media in the comfort of my own air-conditioned apartment.  I’m really enjoying being in a place where all the media I want is readily accessible, and where buying Japanese DVDs and CDs is as easy as placing an order on Amazon.co.jp and waiting maybe a day or two (rather than using import companies and waiting up to a month in America).  Sadly enough, I’m also a huge sucker for the marketing ploys that Johnny’s consistently uses– almost every CD or DVD release includes a limited edition that often comes with a poster or stickers or something of the sort.  It gets me every time, and I’ve already lost willpower and bought a concert DVD… but come on, it came with a whole disc of bonus footage, a booklet, and six photo postcards!  How could I say no?  Luckily, JETs are paid well enough that I can save up while splurging every once in a while!


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