Trivia Japan

Back to Contents of Issue: September 2001

Move over, Mickey. If waiting time is an accurate indication of the most popular rides at Tokyo Disneyland, then Pooh's on top -- be prepared for a wait of just under two and a half hours to take part in "Pooh's Hunny Hunt." Featuring Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, the attraction, states Disney's Web site, "is alive with unpredictable excitement." The wait for "Big Thunder Mountain," by contrast, is less than half that for Pooh, but still over one hour (70 min.). Other park favorites, and their respective waiting times, included "Splash Mountain" (52 min.); "Mickey's House and Meet Mickey" (51 min.); Peter Pan (50 min.); "Space Mountain" (48 min.); "Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin" (46 min.), and "Dumbo" (44 min.). Don't feel like waiting? You can board "Pirates of the Caribbean" in about 13 minutes.

My other car is a Muji. Some 5,000 products are marked in 300 outlets around the country under the Mujirushi "No brand" name -- known as "Muji" for short. Which ones sell the best? The planning department gave these as its best 10 sellers (price in parentheses): umeboshi (pickled plums, ¥95); a B5 lined notebook made from recycled paper (¥80); oil-removing cosmetic sheets (¥150); a plastic storage box (large) with sliding drawer (¥800); a cushion with washable stuffing (¥600); a set of five rubber-soled socks (¥900); a medium-sized nylon shopping bag (¥1,100); a single mattress with center support (¥20,000); and a wall-mount CD player (¥10,000). Muji reports that it is also planning to launch its own car, in a limited edition of 1,000 units.

Home-grown goodies. The five most popular items sold by the Furusato Kotsutsumi "hometown package" system operated by the Japanese post office are as follows: tea from Shizuoka and Kyoto, 2.14 million packages; salmon from Hokkaido, 980,000 fish; apples from Nagano, 950,000 orders; cherries from Yamagata, 510,000 orders; and asparagus from Hokkaido, 500,000 orders.

Garbage in, garbage out. The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts, and Telecommunications announced that as of the end of March, the number of households with cable TV had zoomed past the 10 million barrier. With 10,480,000 homes now hooked up, that's a growth of 10.6 percent over the previous year's figure, and double that of four years ago. The diffusion rate is now up to 22.1 percent. A prime factor in recent growth is believed to be those seeking high-speed, inexpensive Internet connections. The number of new cable subscribers opting for the Internet was about 784,000 -- a roughly 3.6-fold growth over the past year.

A woman's place is in the tub. Where's Mom's most unassailable sanctuary in the home? The bath came back as the most popular reply (14.3 percent) in a questionnaire of mothers circulated by Nichiban. This was followed by kitchen (13.2), toilet (9.8), and living room (9.6). The bed or bedroom only got 5.1 percent of replies. In response to Mitsui Home's query as to whether or not the man of the house has his own personal space at home, replies varied widely with age. Among hubbies in their thirties, the figure was just 26 percent. By the forties, it was up to 45 percent, and by the fifties, it was 57.7 percent. For sixty and over, the figure soared past 90 percent, presumably because most kids have fled the nest by then.

Appelez nous una voiture, s'il vous plait. Dime magazine took the trouble to poll taxi companies around the nation and was pleased to learn that it is by no means unusual to find cabbies in Japan who can attend to passengers in foreign languages other than English. Ten companies said they employ drivers speaking Chinese and Korean. Spanish and Portuguese both tallied four each, Tagalog had two, French two, and German, Thai, and Russian one each. Meitetsu Kotsu of Nagoya appears to be the most linguistically versatile -- it employs speakers of Chinese, Korean, and German.

Protestant -- sorry, make that Buddhist -- ethic. A survey by temp-help company Pasona of 118 people age 50 and above found that middle-aged Japanese like to keep busy, even when the rewards are few. Questioned about their job expectations and motives for work, exactly half the respondents said they were content to remain at their present post. This was followed by desiring to "make the most of their career" with 43.2 percent, and wanting to live for their work, with 33.1 percent. In contrast, a much lower number said they were hanging on just to pay off their home loans or biding their time until retirement, 18.8 and 3.4 percent respectively. Among those under age 65, 37.6 percent said they wanted to continue working even if it meant a reduction in pension payouts. And 18.8 percent said they hoped to do some sort of work, even without renumeration. Amongst the above-50 crowd, those who claimed computer skills included word processing software (55.9 percent of those surveyed); spreadsheet (35.6 percent), and email (32.2 percent).

No one can voodoo like anata. If young Japanese seem to take an inordinate interest in the supernatural, paranormal, extrasensory, and psychic, you can thank the country's four major commercial TV networks. A survey appearing in a recent issue of DaCapo magazine noted that programs harping on such themes have proliferated over the past decade. From 25 programs featuring such topics in 1994, the figure rose to 33 in 1997, 40 in 1998, and 50 in 1999 -- the year Nostradamus supposedly predicted that the world would end. Last year the number dropped back to 34. At the head of the pack serving up X-File foolery is the Fuji TV network, which invariably broadcasts about half of all such programs.

A pleasant ring to them. A survey by Nikkei Business asked Japanese businessmen which brands they "liked" the most. In descending order, they were Sony, Toyota, Matsushita Electric, Yamato, National, Panasonic, Sharp, Zebra, NTT DoCoMo, and Canon. The highest-ranking foreign brands included Dell Computer (11), Visa (12), Parker (14), and Intel (15).

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