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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When The Eyes Get In Your Soap

Here’s a photo of a very interesting item.

It’s a bar of soap with advertising all over it.

According to Matthew who somehow managing to get his thumb in the photo he took, the soap is “from my favorite shop up on Mt Nasu near Sesshoseki (you've been there before).”

I’ve been there before. A ‘favorite’ shop of Matthew up Mount Nasu in Tochigi-ken.

I think Matthew and I have different definitions of “my favorite”.

There were a couple of places I liked… a video game shop in downtown Ohtawara-shi, and toy/model kit/puzzle place just on the outskirts of downtown Ohtawara, but still close to City Hall.

I bought a Thunderbirds Are Go model kit there, and lots of puzzles and large frames to mount them in.

Oh… I also like the pet shop where I could purchase weekly replacements for the fish that kept dying in my aquarium.

But… one of Matthew’s favorite shops? My memory is weird. I don’t even recall what I had for dinner last night.  But since I recall all that other crap, maybe I have "selfish memory"…

I also like how Matthew wrote: "near Sesshoseki".

My dear, good buddy Matthew. Thank you for thinking I knew Ohtawara and the surrounding area... but aside from where I worked, where I did my shopping... I really had little knowledge of where I was... and by that I mean shop names. I couldn't read the shop names.

I was essentially functionally illiterate for three years in Japan.

I have no idea what Sesshoseki is... a locale... a shop... lots of things that were explained to me like location names... or just names in general, simply never made a lot of sense to me in the early days... and so I was unable to compute.

I may even have stopped trying to fathom names of people and things. Noboko (sp) was one of the few, for obvious reasons.

Muneo, Kaoru, Takako... there might be a few more... but... it's because they told me their FIRST name.

It's a cultural thing, perhaps... but when someone tells you their family name, you tend not to pay as much attention as to when they tell you their GIVEN name.

I don't know if that's true... I'm psycho analyzing myself as we go along... it feels correct to me.  

It's why I have no idea who some of the people in my Board of Education office were/are... I was told their name, and with zero Japanese language comprehension skills... they became lost to me... always there to greet them... but never any more.

I hope none of this sounds too ignorant of  myself. I did want to learn... but... especially at the beginning... I was inundated with some many new things... plus you want everyone to like you... and in my case... I was in the process of reinventing myself into someone a little more outgoing.

Quite literally... two years previous to my entrance to Japan... I was deathly shy.

Pretty bizarre, right, when you consider that I lay myself bare for all to see via this blog.

Maybe it's all due to writing or being a writer... and an honest one... I began letting go of that shyness two years before Japan when I entered journalism. It was like... I felt alive... that this was something I enjoyed doing, was decent at it...

Sadly no one told me that the pay sucks, but they say money can't buy happiness. True dat, but it does pay the bills, which would make anyone happy.  

Anyhow...



Despite me enjoying advertising, and packaging and stuff like that, I didn’t really pay a whole lotta attention to what was going on in Japan when it came to things like that.

It was probably because of my lack of Japanese language skills. I can’t read it or understand it, so I didn’t give it much thought.

Besides… I was more into people watching.

Like what that soap is doing in the above photo.

Look at that face on the soap… staring… judging you as you lather it up and scroll it across your naked body parts.

“Nnnnnnnnnn. That’s not a freckle.”

I mean - of all the images one could put on a soap, replete with business name, address and phone number (Help, I’m running out of that staring soap! Send more to…”

… I mean… look at that face… the teeth are obviously clenched, with the chin pushed upwards to create a sour look… and those side eyes within the slightly bloated face… and the uneven haircut on the sides… this is someone who doesn’t look happy.

… and there they are… plastered all over that bar of advertising soap… ready to go and clean those spots few dare to tread. Oh…

… that’s right… the soap knows what you have been doing, and is saddened it has to clean you.

Or, this is simply Japanese advertising at its bizarre best… because it did what it’s supposed to do… made ya look.       

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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