Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Ah, the joys of living in Japan. A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my mum asking if it was possible to get Beyblades out here, because they are the only thing my little nephews want from Santa, along with the entire pre-pubescent population of the UK, apparently. I'd never heard of such things, but Butterbird (that's my girlfriend) and I took a trip to Kiddyland, which has to the be the coolest shop in Japan, if not the entire world. Six floors of loopy, kawaii, singing, dancing toys and ultra-cute accessories; teen girls wandering glassy-eyed among the Afrodogs and Kitti-chans and a thousand other not-quite-right Japanese creations, like teddy bears with long claws and these weird wind-up dancing pink men. And there, on the fifth floor, were the Beyblades. Tons of 'em. They're last year's thing here, you see. J-kids have moved onto something new (hey, don't get me started on the Gameboy Advance e-reader...) Another cool thing about shopping in Japan is that they wrap everything for you for free. Actually, they've pretty much mastered the commercial side of Christmas - and if you think Christmas is commercialised in Europe or America, well . . . the Japanese have taken Christmas and removed the lip-service to family and religion, and made it a 100% money-money-money, glitter and baubles, fake plastic trees Santa-fest. It's also a romantic event here. On Christmas Eve, instead of hanging up their stockings, girls and boys head to the city's love hotels and take their stockings off. (We stayed in a love hotel as a special treat for Butterbird's birthday. The room wasn't themed - the themed ones are elusive and expensive - but was done up like a seventies hotel, with mirrors on the ceiling and condoms on the pillows; as soon as you open the door, pixellated porn appears on the TV, and there's a jet-bath to wash away your sticky patches. The receptionist sits behind a screen with her face hidden. And you can order dildoes on room service.) Anyway, we got the Beyblades

Have just watched Bjork's film, Dancer in the Dark. Feel a bit traumatised now. Bjork was fantastic, especially during the musical scenes. But the end . . . God - if you want a feelgood film, stick with Mary Poppins.