Trading Cash for Tokens???

10 Jun

After our days travel, we got back to the hotel and were anxious to do something. So Mike, Andy, Tiffany, and I decided to wander around Tokyo to find a place to play Pachinko and hopefully win some money. According to Japan-Guide.com, “Pachinko is a mixture of slot machine and pinball.” We found a huge arcade that had almost every game imaginable, including Pachinko and slot machines.

So I went to exchange 1000 yen (about $10) for what I thought would be change, but instead the machine spit out tokens. I didn’t anything of it, I just thought maybe I would have to trade them in later for actual money. I went to a machine and started playing, and as I looked down, I noticed someone had left a cup full of tokens. I felt like I hit the jackpot already!!! I was so excited, I now had all of these tokens to play with. As I was getting in my zone and playing well, Andy (or was it Mike?), much to all of our surprise we could not trade in our tokens for cash value, nor could we get our money back if we had already exchanged our money for the tokens. We were all bummed because we could have all used the extra spending money, but we laughed it off a few minutes later. We played a bunch of other games, found out Andy was a dancing machine, and finally figured out how to take Photobooth pics. It was honestly a good time!!!

The next day we had a meeting at Futurescope, and coincidentally the company was doing a presentation on mobile phone use and Pachinko. He informed us of the Japanese law that prohibits gambling and the whole time I was thinking, “too little too late”. We could have definitely used this info. the day before.

After doing some research for this post, I discovered there is a way to get actually getting money for your wins. According to Japan-Guide.com, “But you can also bypass the law that prohibits gambling in Japan by exchanging the balls first into some special goods and then exchange them for cash at a small window just outside the parlor.” I think even if I had known this before playing Pachinko, I probably still wouldn’t have tried to cash in my winnings…just sounds a little sketchy to me.

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Technology Review: Cash Registers

9 Jun

Before Japan, I had never seen so many different variations of cash registers. When I was thinking of a topic for my technology review, I couldn’t come up with anything. Then I went shopping one day and realized that at almost store I’d been to (convenience, department store, shoe store), most of the cash registers differed.

In America, you will also find that many stores have different cash registers based on appearance, but not so much in function. In Japan, you will find that they not only differ in appearance, but also in functionality. The most common registers I have seen were the style that could be found most at convenience stores. The functions and features are pretty much standard for a cash register. However, it has two screens: one for the clerk and one for the customer to view. Before making my purchase, I noticed there were ads on the screen that was made for my view. As the clerk began to ring my purchases, the ads would stay on and it would show the price for each item in the bottom right corner. As your sale is almost complete, it will show your total amount due and then change you should expect after you pay.

There are also registers with a unique system for paying for your items. At most stores, you will find a pad attached to the register, in plain view for the customer. Instead of giving your credit card to the sales clerk, you can just scan your card over the pad and it will receive all of your information. You can also use other devices such as your cell phone, if you have the QR code from your account on your phone. This system makes the shopping experience more time efficient and I would think make more customers at ease, knowing that they were the only person handling their credit card.

While we were in Osaka, I stopped by a store to purchase gym shoes and was amazed the whole time she was ringing up my item. Instead of a regular cash register, where the sales clerk did much of the work, this register did almost everything for her. All she had to do was scan my item and then input the money I handed to her. The machine counted how much money she put in and dispensed my change. She didn’t have to worry about counting any money. I think this would be ideal for most stores because they can reduce miscounts and shortages due to human error.

I would have never expected to see this in a clothing store. I think that if innovations such as these continue, grocery stores will not be the only places with self-check out lanes. Soon, you may be able to shop at your favorite clothing or shoe store and ring up all of the items on your own. I think this could succeed in these types of stores because sales clerk could then focus more on sales floor and customer issues. With the extra attention, companies would hopefully be able to reduce shortages due to theft.

Puricula: Japanese Photobooths!!!

3 Jun

You cannot come to Japan and not take part in Puricula, or Japanese photo booths. For approximately 400 yen, you can experience the fun of taking pictures and then drawing all over them. They are everywhere in Japan!!! You can find a bunch at the arcade and even at some grocery stores. More than just taking a picture, you can pick a certain theme, and it gives you an idea of a pose you should do for each shot. They also have features that can make your eyes bigger and your skin flawless. You can take about six shots during one session. When we went to Kobe University, one of the students showed me all of the pictures she and her friends took. They go to take pictures and she fills up that current month of her planner with all of the pictures. She told me she goes many times a month so that her planner is filled, and that she doesn’t let a month go by without going at least once.  They have a sticky back, so it is easy to attach them to anything. It is common to see them attached to cell phones, notebooks, and even my cousins stick their pictures to their Nintendo DS systems. America has photo booths as well, but they are not as cool as Japan’s (in my opinion).



Do You Speak English?

30 May

While we were at the Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, a group of students on a field trip came up to us wanting an interview. They were studying English, and had to read off a list of questions to us in English as well as recording our responses in English. You could tell they were shy and nervous by their chuckles, but their English was really good. Even when we were at the different universities, there would be students there who had never been to America, but still could speak a little English and were interested in us teaching them more. It seems that a lot of people are eager to learn English here.

Being here and not being able to speak English has its challenges, but it isn’t too bad. Every place that we had been to, there would be someone there who was fluent in English, or able to understand a few words. I think for most of us, it allowed us to be more comfortable in this new environment. We had no problem going to places on our own because of this, and from my experience, no one seemed frustrated by our inability to speak Japanese. Had it been the other way, and I was a foreign person in America, I don’t think I would feel as comfortable.  In the U.S, there isn’t a common second language that most Americans speak. I think it would depend more so on the region you are in to determine that. Even so, compared to Japanese people, Americans generally are more impatient and you would be less likely to find someone with the tolerance to put up with a non-English speaking person. Another thing I am learning here, to be more tolerant of people and not let things frustrate me so easily.

Misery of Surviving

27 May

After I had finished walking through all of the rooms of the Hiroshima Peace Museum, I stopped at the television screen which showed had videos of many people recounting what they were doing on that day and how it affected them. I probably stayed there for about 20 minutes just listening to their stories. There was one woman’s story I can remember specifically. She had to be in her 60s-70s and spoke about just watching her daughter off to work while she and her husband were at home. After the bomb hit and she was able to gain consciousness, she and her husband went to look for her daughter in the spot her work building once stood…and after searching through many bodies and materials, they found nothing. She not only lost her daughter, but also her son and later her husband to this horrific event. She spoke about the misery and suffering of living through an experience like that and literally losing everything. Tears started rolling down my face as I listened to her speak. I remember reading an excerpt on the tour about the curse of being a survivor, and her story definitely put that in perspective for me.

When I think about war or the effects of disaster, I sometimes get caught up in how many people actually lost their lives than those who have have survived. However, the people who survived also lose a great amount. This may include their homes, personal possessions, loved ones…and for many, a piece of themselves. They must go in with life with their memories, and I admire them all for being able to do so. I could never imagine what they went through or still go through.

God bless everyone who were affected by the bombing of Hiroshima and war altogether. Hopefully one day we will live in a world of Peace & Love.

Restaurant Vending Machines

27 May

The first night here, we all went to a small restaurant across from our hotel. As soon as we walked in, I noticed two vending machines on both sides of the wall with Japanese writing on them. Dr. C informed us that this is how we would be ordering our food. Unlike vending machines I normally see, where the food is visible through clear Plexiglas, these just had a bunch of buttons on them with a picture of the food and its name in Japanese. Dr. C helped us to get our food, but it was pretty simple when it was explained. You simply put in money, and pick the button for whichever item you want to order. The machine spits out a ticket after each selection is made. You can pick as many selections as your money will get you, and just like with regular vending machines, any money not used will be dispensed through a change machine. After you have your tickets, you find a seat and wait until the waiter comes to pick up your ticket. As a foreigner, I actually appreciated this order system. This way I didn’t have to struggle with reading the menu and trying to figure out what type of variations the waiter was offering. Of course, you don’t get much interaction with the waiter/waitress, but this is ideal for small places where people are in a hurry to grab food and go.

Oysters

26 May

Tried them here for my very first time…this was also my very last time!!! Not completely disgusting, but I could probably still live a happy life without them.

Nattō

26 May

Japanese fermented beans, Yummy!!!

Social Media Presentation

26 May

As a part of the assignments for this study abroad program/TC class, we had to choose from one of four of instructional research projects. I chose to do a presentation.I worked with another student from the program (Tiffany) to put together a 20 min. Powerpoint presentation on Social Media and then present it to students at Keio Univesrsity and Kobe University. Through the whole process, Tiffany and I were very nervous; there was a lot at stake. Of course, we wanted to get a 4.0 on this assignment, but we also wanted to make a good impression as we were representing MSU. Dr. C tried to calm our nerves a little by telling us how different Japanese students do presentations, but that still did not help.

When we got to Keio University, there was another student who presented before us, and that is when we got to experience what Dr. C was talking about. Emila’s presentation was also on social media, but more specifically how it was used during the tsunami disaster in Japan on March 11, 2011. Her method of presenting was also different. During her  presentation she sat in a chair behind a desk, and read from a typed, essay- like paper into a microphone. This was much different than American style presentations, or at least the way I had been taught. In high school, I took four speech (public speaking) classes, and although they all differed in material covered, the criteria for our presentations were pretty much the same. You must stand (good posture), memorize at least some part of your speech, and maintain a good amount of eye contact with the audience. Even now that I am in college, this is still what is expected.

In America, there is big emphasis on audience connection, and even after our first presentation, we had to make a few changes to make our presentation more interactive. The second time we presented, our presentation went a lot smoother and we got the audience involved. During our last meeting, Dr. C told Tiffany and I that we earned 4.0 for our presentations, so we very pleased!

Shopping Experiences

26 May

Before coming to Japan, I had already been thinking of all of the shopping I would do! However, after my first shopping experience, I realized shoes and clothing shopping was not something I would be doing a lot of. A part of this is due to the prices of the clothes here. Japan has a lot of small shops, but in my opinion they are to high-priced for the quality. Most of the clothing is very thin and does not seem very washer-friendly. Of course there are tons of more popularly (globally) known stores such as Forever 21, TopShop, H&M, Zara, etc, but because the exchange rate ($1=81.96 Yen) is so bad, I almost feel like it would be a waste for me to spend more money on items I can find in the States.

The second reason is because the great size difference. I knew that Japanese people were for the most part smaller than Americans, but I didn’t realize there would be such a difference in sizes offered in their stores.­­­­­­ For example, I recently went on a search for gym shoes because I only packed one shoe. I found a really good store but the largest size they sold was a women’s 8. I was thinking “wth”, I wear a size in 9 and in America that’s a pretty common size. I had to buy a (ugly) men’s shoe!!!

Even in American stores, they have a selection (although may be small) of shoes that come in the “extended sizes”, but here, no way! Coming from a Retailing standpoint, I could see why this would make sense because the larger sizes probably wouldn’t sell too well, but I think the U.S.’s method of still carrying a few of those sizes is much better.  Of course in the U.S, companies choose products more so based on their target markets, but that does not mean that that will be the only products they carry. They still offer items that they would probably not be the first choice for their target markets. This makes it possible for them to expand their markets and customers.

We went to 109, which is like a department store filled with 5 floors of different small shops. Even there, the sizes there offered (both in clothing and shoes) were very limited, and much of the clothing was “one-size fits all”. For example, one store only sold jeans in sizes 0,1, and 2. Shopping here is definitely a differene experience than the States.

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