Monday, November 19, 2007

Mr. [o]Miyagi

Okay, this post shall be about omiyage (Jap term for pasalubong), and not about Mr. Miyagi (of The Karate Kid fame).

There is no finalized date yet of our departure here in Japan though tentatively it was set on the 28th. We're still waiting for announcements from our Director about our new apartment, since we will be transferring our things before going back home to the Philippines.

I can't wait, even hoping that our flight be moved earlier than Nov28 (while target return date remain the same or better if moved on a later date). I do wish that my 'vacation' in the Philippines could be stretched wider.

Being the typical balikbayan, one is expected to bring home some goodies coming from the foreign land. The more people who know about your trip, the more the demand of omiyage. Last Saturday, I went to Akihabara to buy some of the required pasalubongs. It's not exactly the perfect place to buy cultural omiyage in terms of prices. Akiba is popularly known as a major electronics district in the world, constantly flocked by so many foreigners and Japanese people alike that the created atmosphere is being taken advantage by the businessmen.

Aside from electronics, Akihabara is also known for being a melting pot for otaku culture (read: geeks/fanatics). Japan is famous for its anime and high tech gadgets, and Akihabara seem to have it all. Since I really was not prepared with a list of things to buy and of the people to give omiyage with, this was the place that first came to my mind because of its wide range of selection. I bought most of my omiyage at one of the Laox shops. They were really good items although I can sense that it's a bit overpriced. I wanted to buy the fushigi towel, it's a towel having a print of a lady in a kimono, wherein when heat is applied (example: hair blower), the kimono will vanish and so the lady would be on her birthday suit. Japanese are so cool. My frugal self told me not to buy it since I still have more spending to do.

The first time I went to Akiba, I went out of the JR train station through the Electronic Town exit, thereby walked only thru the Chuo dori (main avenue). This time, I tried the Showa Dori exit and for the first time, was able to look inside the huge Yodobashi Camera (store). [pic on right: Yodobashi Camera's facade]

One other reason why I chose to shop at Akihabara was to check out the DSLR cameras I plan on buying (Canon EOS 400D vs. Nikon D40x). I was able to compare prices of those being sold at Akky and Laox (2 famous Akiba Duty Free stores) with Yodobashi, and so far the latter sells the cheapest (plus the 10% point card). And so I've learned that you don't have to go to Akihabara to buy cheap electronic gadgets. Yodobashi, along with some other stores (e.g. BIC Camera, Kojima) have branches all over Japan.

And finally before I went home, I bought a Playstation Portable. I have thought of buying a game console ever since my first month here in Japan but I got stuck deciding between a Sony PSP or a Nintendo DS. I should have bought the DSLR before going home but because of the short stay in the Philippines, I chose a game console instead (it would benefit me more than using a camera in the Philippines --i.e. while waiting on queue in several government agencies).
I chose the PSP because:
  • superior hardware than DS --> corresponds to superior graphics
  • backwards compatibility with PS games (mod needed)
  • a good sized screen --> I had tried watching on my ipod video. So small and uncomfortable to carry while watching (one hand). Wow factor for me with the PSP.
  • The looks. The DS seemed like a Kid's toy.
  • etc.
Uh oh... I think I'm attracting some PSP bashers out there, hehehehe ;) The above mentioned are true anyway and the battle between DS vs. PSP had been narrowed down to gameplay vs. graphics, and obviously I wanted the eye candy one.

By the way, I have done some random shopping regarding the omiyage as I also plan on doing some random giving, in a raffle sort of way. It's hard to give in to the specific requests of people (kimono$, hard-to-find items, japanese girl, etc). I've decided that a raffle would be a fun and fair thing to do.

For now, I'm not reserving any omiyage to specific friends. Anyone's eligible, but it's a first come first served basis, 'til stocks last. Of course priority would be given to those who I am able to meet. Tricky part is that my stay in the Philippines would be short and I may be in Baguio for some time or maybe busy processing my papers. And so I would prefer to give it away during meet ups with you guys. I don't have much time and have enough souvenirs to give for everybody. gomen ne. I hope you guys understand. :)

Sa mga mauubusan, don't worry, just setup your facebook accounts and I promise I'd send you gifts from there. ;)

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posted by ScIoN 7:29 PM


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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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