He's an elephant! He's a robot! He's a watering can! He's also only ¥100 (about 86¢US as of right now; although I've always found the ¥100 = $1.00 rule to be a fairly safe bet. It all balances out over time). We picked him up a few months ago from the 100 Yen shop when we decided that our backyard was needing some color (green) in the form of plants. When I say backyard, I refer to the 3 foot by 8 foot rectangle of concrete and hard earth. Just enough room to hang out the laundry, keep a few flowers, and provide a little bit of earth for the local fauna to romp on. We're luckier than most Tokyoites in that respect.

We were fortunate to get MechaZo-san when we did. He sold out shortly after. That's because he's kawaii, you see. Cute. Kawaii is one of the central pillars of modern Japanese civilization. Nearly every box, bag or package you pick up has a cartoon character on it somewhere. Half the time, the products are in the shape of a character themselves. Even my National Health Insurance Instruction booklet is set up as a comic. This is a good thing, because even thought I don't know the kanji (squiggly alphabet character) for food poisoning or lycanthropy, I can sure follow along with the pictures. Stomach cramping and hairy palms have never seemed so adorable. Nor has watering the plants.

JapanPatrick2006 late1 Comment