Mr. Wake

Are you understand?

Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Shaka Zulu? Shaka Khan? Boom Shaka-laka? Nope. It's Shaka Shaka Potato.

Despite the Spartan English, it's pretty clear what you do. The fries come with a seasoning packet, spicy basil or American B-B-Q. You "in" the fries into the bag (note: in the event that the fries are served in the bag, which is always, instead of "inning" the fries you will want to "out" the napkins and seasoning packet). Next you "sprinkle" the seasoning in with the fries. Then you shaka like you just don't care.

The writing next to that little clock above the "Shaka Shaka Potato" indicates that from 2:00 PM on is "snack time." You will face cruel (but very polite) disappointment should you attempt to get your shaka shaka on before 2:00.

There is the stereotype of the American who travels to exotic lands only to eat nothing but McDonald's hamburgers. First off, most of the Westerners I've seen at Japanese McDonalds' have not been English speakers. Second, foreign McDonalds' are fascinating places. You can see what is important to the local culture by what they change. Likewise, what remains the same shows what aspects of the West local customers desire. The burgers are made with goat in India; in Thailand McD's is hangout for wealthy high schoolers; I hear one can purchase a glass of beer at the French McDonald's, and I'm not talking about a paper cup. In Japan you can get a bun made of rice. Recently they introduced the oddly phrased Ebi Filet-O sponsored by this homely lass. (Ebi means shrimp, and it is also this model's name.) The workers are polite, crisp, and professional. When this reporter ordered his Shaka Shaka Potato and a small coke, the coke was served immediately, but he had to wait on a new batch of fries. When the fries finally came, the cashier dumped his coke and prepared a fresh one, fearing melted ice and diminished fizz. That the Japanese love rice, sea food, and customer satisfaction are less than Earth-shattering observations. But what do we learn from their afternoon desire to shake a bag of potatoes?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Duck Season ... Rabbit Season ... BUG SEASON!

Spring time. When a young man's heart turns to thoughts of love. In Japan it turns to thoughts of entomology. The rhinoceros beetles makes a spiffy spring time pet. A hardware store I went to was a one-stop shop for all your beetle needs, be they rhinoceros or stag. The cool thing about these bugs is that they hate each other. So it's easy for a young lad to get together with his chums and make their bugs fight.



Super bugwater...

But in these busy times what kid has the time to track down his own bugs? Not to worry. The hardware store has the solution in these pre-moistened containers.

But in these busy times what kid has time to go to the hardware store? Not to worry. There is Mushiking, the King of Beetles, a combination video game and collectible card game. You swipe the card of your champion bug into the machine and pit it against your friend's bug. The contest is based on rock, paper, scissors, but somehow your bug's individual strengths and weaknesses are taken into account. Also, the machine dispenses fresh beetle cards.

Make sure you read the story of Mushiking. It tells the story of all the bugs of the forest living in harmony with each other and with a single elf. But trouble starts when foreign bugs arrive in the forest, and now the bugs must rise up against the foreign ... hey, wait a minute.