Only in Japan / by Deborah Clague

By night, Tokyo is a glorious technicolour explosion. By day, Tokyo is actually rather hideous, a jumble of grotesque postmodern architectural styles with no cohesive synergy. It left me cold. But I do have to admire Japanese ingenuity chutzpah; they rather shamelessly copied - and made bigger, better, bolder - such world-famous icons as the Eiffel Tower ("Tokyo Tower"), Brooklyn Bridge ("Rainbow Bridge") and Spice Girls (?!). My personal favorite building was the headquarters for fashion retailer H&M which looked like it was constructed of vellum paper. Very cool. 

One thing undeniably unique to the country are its lavatories. Made by unicorns in the magical land of Narnia, Japanese toilets offer more excitement than the rides at DisneySea. Deciphering the non-English instructions were a crap shoot at best though; with one wrong push of a button, you could be met with a blast of cold water or an unexpected enema. Clearly I wasn't the only foreigner who was puzzled, as made clear by this sign at the Metropolitan Government Office (at right).  

Japanese television is also a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside a Hot Pocket. I have never experienced so many "WTF" moments in my life, especially during the relatively serious evening news. Set colours were all bright neon, headlines flashed across the screen in a typeface that made Comic Sans look like the epitome of high style, and the lead newscaster used a "chicken arrow" to help the viewer make sense of it all. Yes, a cartoon chicken on an arrow was somehow the most lucid part of the whole gong show. Only in Japan.

I want to go back SO BAD!!! 

 Rainy Night in Shinjuku:

View from atop the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office: 

H&M Headquarters, Tokyo: 

Japanese roadside construction barriers:

Delivery truck (note its size in comparison to the Mini Cooper):

A shaky image of the Rainbow Bridge complete with faux Statue of Liberty
(Eiffel Tokyo Tower lurking in the background):

Operational controls for a Japanese toilet: