Friday, September 25, 2009

In Japan, everything is inside train stations.

In Japan, there are many rail lines. This is especially true in the big cities. Generally, workers in central cities are not allowed to commute by car. In cities, people mainly use trains and subways for transportation. They are very familiar with the trains and their train stations. Thus, people tend to prefer to find their house located within a 15 minute walk from the nearest train station. It seems that houses located within 10 minutes by bicycle are their second choice. Needless to say, there are many people who have to take a bus from the station to their house. At any rate, train stations are the center of cities and towns. Inevitably, there are shopping malls around major train stations.

Recently, the places inside train stations have been catching the public attention. The word “inside” here means the places that you can get into with train tickets. A few years ago, an excellent shopping mall opened inside Tokyo Station which I’m very familiar with. The mall consists mainly of many grocery shops, caf├ęs and casual restaurants. There are various prepared meals at reasonable prices. When you are tired after work, you’ll feel compelled to purchase them on the way home. You also can get high-quality sweets and unique products that you rarely get in other places. In Japan, the companies pay train fares for their regular employees. Workers usually buy commuter train passes that offer discounts. The pass holders are free to get into and out of any stations between their office and their house.

Even inside local train stations, there are many shops that satisfy passengers. Inside Ueno station in Tokyo, there is a sport club. I’ve heard that it's welcomed by busy commuters. The nurseries for children that many people are always waiting for a vacancy of are located inside or in front of train stations, since busy working parents, who are often required to work long hours, can save time.

The pictures are of a shopping mall inside Tokyo Station.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is Tommy Lee Jones Interested in Appearing in Comedy Shows ?

You've probably heard that many Hollywood stars appear in Japanese TV commercials. I've heard that they usually dare not to appear in TV commercials in the west, especially in the US, even when they are offered a good deal. I don’t know for the fact if they don’t appear in TV commercials there though. I guess that they want to avoid their images being affected or blemished by their commercial appearances in the US. In Japan, in contrast, there is a low risk of that if the broadcast is limited to inside Japan only. On top of that, I suppose that many Japanese corporations offer lucrative endorsement contracts to them and accept their many requests. For them, Japan might be an attractive place to make extra money.

Brad Pitt has appeared in the Softbank (a mobile phone company) TV commercials since 2006. The commercials aren't often broadcast, and are intensively broadcast during a certain time of a year. This winter and spring, George Cloone appeared in the Honda TV commercials. I think that these commercials are ordinary and predictable, which means that they are made based on their own images in movies. The Suntory canned coffee commercials that Tommy Lee Jones has been appearing in for more than three years, in comparison, are surprising. In these storyline commercials, he is an alien. The alien came to the earth in order to see what is going on there. The commercials with him have been frequently broadcast for such a long time. Additionally, they are kind of comedies. He has been doing a comedy in the commercials. I started assuming that he is really interested in doing a comedy. Otherwise, why has he been doing that? Just for money?

Tommy Lee Jones

George Cloone