…a study abroad student. Which doesn’t seem all that fun when you consider that you are in another country to study. And then how can you have fun without going broke or spending a huge amount of time on some touristy tour. But please, allow me to correct that train of thought. At least in Tokyo, there is a veritable smorgasbord of fun things to do that you do not need to go out of your way for.
This might seem a bit anti-climatic, but I know I got a kick out of the purikura, photo-booth pictures. I am going to go out on a limb and say that they are popular here based on how crowded it was, especially with teens. Okay, so what? While they are basically just photos, right after you finish posing, you get to add and decorate the heck out of them with whatever stickers or outlandish things you want on the touchscreen. Because there is a timer usually, you have to get in all your fun decorations within the allotted time, which makes it almost like a game. I kid you not, it is oddly fun and addicting. For only ¥400, you can pick which set of photos you want, and I suggest going in a group because it makes the decorating part fun. At the same time, you get a glimpse of Japanese beauty standards, because purikura Photoshops your face automatically to enlarge your eyes and smooth and whiten your skin. I guess this is as beautiful as I get.
Another great place to kill time is the arcade. For some reason, they always smell like cigarette smoke, but that could be attributed to all the grown men who play these games like their lives depend on it. I actually am not sure why there are so many of them, but the really competitive players will gather an audience. It is also a mostly male crowd just as the purikura attracted more females, but there’s definitely a greater absence of the opposite gender at the arcades. There is a huge selection of choices to play from, but your hand eye coordination better be good because they are haaaard! Or it could just be me.
Now, this suggestion is definitely one that both genders in Tokyo participate in pretty equally. Karaoke! Can’t sing in Japanese like me? No problem! Many, if not all, karaoke places have English songs too so you can sing to your heart’s content. To save the most money, they are usually cheaper in the afternoons than evenings, but also, they are more expensive in places like Shinjuku since they have an active nightlife. They charge by either half hour or hour which makes it nice if you either want to stay for awhile or don’t want to stay long. It seems like drinking and singing is a popular pastime for larger groups, which is different in the U.S. in that there is the absence of the singing part. I wonder why karaoke isn’t as prevalent in the U.S. and if it has to do with Americans feeling more self-conscious about presenting in front of others.
I find that these small entertainments usually have patrons no matter the day, so I am curious to know if it is in part because of the stress and amount of work the average Japanese person has, and that these places are opportunities for them to decompress. Not only are they affordable, but they don’t require much time commitment which makes it ideal to loosen up just enough.