Sannomiya, Sannomiyaです

A half hour away from the nearest subway station is the downtown area of Kobe, Sannomiya. A bustling center and hub for various train lines. Here you can find shops, restaurants, more shops, entertainment, and more! A surprise and shock at first sight, this is the first big city I've ever visited in Japan. With crosswalks that stretch down the entire street and people constantly on the move adding to the barrage of flashing lights, signs and advertisements. After awhile I can't take it all in and it starts to become over stimulating and I start to squint, shaking away any oncoming headaches. My friends laugh and coolly say, "this is nothing compared to Osaka". This was also a first time meeting a homeless person in Japan, something I was sworn by my high school Japanese teacher didn't exists (although I think she meant few in comparison to the states?).

One thing I have yet to understand is how services and restaurants share the same building. There will be a building about 7 stories tall and on the side will be small signs briefly describing what exists on that floor. This adds infinite amount of signs to read something that is impossible for me to do when walking at the same pace as everyone on the street. Something I also find strange is the arrangement of buildings. Obviously there is huge competition for space in such a big city but the way shops and stores are constructed creates weird experiences for me. For example imagine ordering at a McDonald's that's open to the street and then having to go down a spiral stair case into a basement to find seating. Being brought up in the Northwestern part of the USA, I associate building size and shape to different establishments. You see the outside of the building you recognize it not only by its exterior signs but by its physical shape (Wouldn't you be suspicious if you saw a Safeway in a building the size of a flower shop?). Since there's so much damn space, these buildings can be made as big as possible with huge exteriors like some commercialism mecca, beckoning people from a mile away.
So here's where I get to my point, Because of the way buildings are made in the Northwest, the exterior is very important to me. In London and in Japan too, Department stores exist in multi story buildings with different products on different floors. You can't just open your eyes and see the name of the store you have to know where you're going and what floor to go to. Similarly there are many restaurants and shops that have no exterior entrance. You have to walk down a flight of stairs narrow enough for one person or go up an elevator or climb stairs and discover which hole in the wall to go into. For me it creates a kind of duality, with friendly street signs and mysterious, faceless entryways that are somewhat maze like, I really don't know whether to feel welcomed or dared to enter. There must be some truth to this because I ran into another foreigner who decided to ask me if there was anything to do around here when we are surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of teeming shops and entertainment centers just begging for business. My response was get lost...... What I mean by that is walk around and get lost not the GET LOST! get lost. So yeah exteriors, Important to the US consumers? Ask yourself this the next time you pass a Walmart and you see it all the way from the highway.

A loooooooooooooong path to shopping heaven. (if you enjoy shopping)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does there appear to be any accommodation for the handicapped? Are there mom's with strollers? What about the elderly? I wonder how they would get around in narrow passageways and stairwells. Interesting post!!!