Tag Archives: ’90s

The ’90s in Japan

14 Apr

I have been living in Japan since 1990. I know what the 1990s and 2000’s were like in Japan much more than America.

Japan was quite different in 1990! I wrote a post last October about some of the differences...click here to read it.

I found a website by a man who took a lot of photos of Tokyo in the 1990s.
It’s very nostalgic for me!

Here are some photos of Tokyo in 1990 (This was Tokyo when I first came here):

This is the large, busy Ikebukuro train station in Tokyo in 1990. There were no automatic ticket gates back then…station workers punched and collected tickets manually!

 

This is the largest, busiest train station in the world…Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station in 1990. There were many payphones on platforms and station entrances back then!

 

Inside a train in Tokyo in 1990. There were no cellphones back then. Everyone read, slept or sat quietly on the trains here.

 

Most of my life in Japan

17 Oct

Today is 2010 October 17.
I came to Japan on 1990 October 17. Twenty years ago.
I was 20 years old when I came to Tokyo…so I’ve now lived half of my life here. Starting tomorrow, I will have been in Japan for “most of my life”.

Time goes by so fast.

In 2008 on this date I wrote a post that compared some of the differences between Japan in 1990 and Japan today.
Click here to read it.

Today is also the anniversary of the day that Yoshihiro Hattori was shot to death in America because he went to the wrong house by mistake on his way to a Halloween party.
Last year I wrote a post on the seventeenth anniversary of his death.
Click here to read a bit about his story in the post I wrote last year.

I can’t believe I’ve already been in Japan for twenty years. October 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago.
Unless that is, you look at I list of the music and movies that were released in 1990!
I checked on Wikipedia…and twenty years seems much longer now that I realized that in 1990 Macaulay Culkin was a cute kid and “Home Alone” was a new movie!

The top-ten movies of 1990 were:
1. “Ghost“…This movie was pretty good, I think.
2. “Home Alone“…This was one funny…but all the sequels (some with different actors in the lead role) were ridiculous.
3. “Pretty Woman
4. “Dances With Wolves
5. “Total Recall“…I like action and suspense movies, but this one was mediocre.
6. “Back To The Future Part III“…This is an excellent trilogy. Of course the first one was the best, but the two sequels were good too.
7. “Die Hard 2: Die Harder“…The four “Die Hard” movies are among my all-time favorites—and I recently heard that they’ll will be making “Part 5” soon. I hope so!
8. “Presumed Innocent“…Harrison Ford is a great actor who has starred in many excellent films!
9. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“…I knew about this comic book because in the liner notes of the excellent 1986 “Master Of Puppets” album by the heavy metal band Metallica it has in the “Thank you” list, among other things, “sushi, Absolut Vodka, Alka Seltzer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“.
Metallica is cool, this movie isn’t.

As a sidenote, there’s a similar story with the metal band Anthrax. On their 1987 “Among The Living” album there is a song titled “I Am The Law“. In the album’s liner notes it says that the song is inspired by the “Judge Dredd” comics. In 1995, Sylvester Stallone starred in a terrible movie adaptation of this comic series.

But I digress. Back to the list.

10. “Kindergarten Cop

I was going to include a list of the music albums that were released in October 1990, too. But I’ve either never heard of most of the bands on that list or they’re albums by bands that I can’t tolerate.
There were a couple good albums released the time I came to Japan in October 1990:

No Prayer For The Dying” by Iron Maiden


And the “Led Zeppelin box set“.

It’s Been 18 Years!

17 Oct

Today is October 17, 2008.
I came to Japan on October 17, 1990…eighteen years ago today! Almost half my life.

When I came to Japan in 1990, I was twenty years old and knew basically nothing about this country.
When I first stepped foot alone off of that airplane when it landed at 成田空港 (Narita Airport, just outside of Tokyo), and I suddenly couldn’t understand even one written or spoken word…the culture shock began.

The food, the fashion, the trains, the language, the general atmosphere…everything was so different from what I was used to at that time.

But it wasn’t long before I became accustomed to Japan and began to feel at home here.

Alot has changed in Tokyo during these past eighteen years. Some of the differences between Tokyo then and Tokyo now:

When I came to Japan in 1990, there were no IC Cards, like SUICA, for the trains and buses (see my post about SUICA here).

And signs in Japan, even at the train stations, didn’t have any English written on them. I couldn’t read Japanese back then, so I would have to ask the train station staff how much the fare was and how many stops to the station I wanted to go to.
Ironically, now the signs with the train station names are written in both Japanese and the English alphabet…but I don’t need the English anymore.

The train stations in Japan didn’t have elevators or escalators…only stairs. When our kids were small and we used strollers to take them out, I had to carry the strollers up and down the stairs everytime we’d change trains or exit or enter a train station!
Parents of babies today don’t realize how lucky they are…there are escalators and elevators all over Japan!

The automatic ticket gates at train stations (that you put your train ticket into) didn’t exist when I first came to Japan either.
The stations had attendants who sold the train tickets and attendants at the gates with hole-punchers to punch the train tickets of everyone entering the station…and they collected the tickets from the people when they exited the station.
If someone’s ticket wasn’t enough to cover the fare, they’d stop them and tell them how much was owed…they were able to do this even during Tokyo’s rush hour!

Of course, there were no 携帯電話 (cellular phones) back then…so there were payphones everywhere. And most everyone had a phone card in their wallet.
If an announcement came on at a train station that said the trains were delayed, everyone would rush over to a payphone and stand in line to use the phone to call their boss!

Payphones and phone cards were so popular that it was common to see people (often illegal immigrants) selling unofficial (illegal) phone cards at a discount.
Everyone has a 携帯電話 (cellular phone) now so payphones aren’t all over like they used to be and phone cards don’t sell as well as they used to.

A few other changes I’ve seen are many banks have merged and changed names, イトーヨーカドー (Ito-Yokado stores) changed the logo on their signs, Halloween is becoming more popular (read my post about Halloween here), and the number of foreign visitors to Japan has increased alot.

Everything in Japan is just normal to me now. It has become home.