March 24, 2011

New Realities

Escalators are now closed off on most train lines around the Tokyo area, to conserve electricity. (Elevators are still available, though, for people in need.)

The backlights of vending machines have been turned off, and in some cases, less frequently-used machines aren't being re-stocked with products. Still, the Tokyo area has more than enough working vending machines to keep people happy.

One of the things I hope will become permanent in post-Earthquake Japan is a trimming of excess: who cares if a convenience store is lit with row upon row of florescent lights? Who cares if vending machines light up in different colors? Does a clothing store really need to put your newly-bought sweater in a plastic wrap before putting it in a paper bag? I wonder how long this new consciousness will last.

The escalator ride up to this JR train platform was once accented with ads for holidays up north, but quite understandably, they've been taken down. In the days immediately following the earthquake, television commercials were dominated by AC Japan (Advertising Council Japan), who ran the most innocuous images possible, but still irritated viewers by tacking on a female voice singing "AC" at the end of each commercial. Watching the news for an hour meant you would hear that voice at least 20 times.

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