Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I heart Odaiba

Just like mameshiba does! More on my new favourite area of Tokyo in a minute.

Today was the first day of my JSDA exam course. The guy who takes the course is really good - he's a good laugh and can explain things really well, but moves at an incredibly fast speed. He may even talk faster than I do. I have met my match... Surprisingly, some of the laws we're learning about are quite interesting, and I was shocked that a few have been recently implemented specifically to prevent the Yakuza from laundering money. I hadn't realised how prevalent the Yakuza still were in Japan, but securities firms have to be very careful when it comes to loss compensation as this was, up until quite recently, helping fund the Japanese mafia.

Learning the facts is going to turn out to be (relatively) the easiest bit. Deciphering the exam questions is considerably more tricky - the translation into English is, at best, extremely confusing. I realised things weren't going to go well when I read this statement on the front of the past papers:

"This examination is conducted in the Japanese only. The English translations of the questions are prepared solely for your information. Therefore, the Japanese version shall prevail if there is any discrepancy. You are not allowed to ask any questions or make complaints about expressions in the English."

Well that's me told... The course is pretty intense and there is so much to learn for the exam next Wednesday. I'm going to have to spend my whole weekend and all day Monday and Tuesday revising. Woop woop.

After today's lesson, I hopped onto the driverless monorail that goes to Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. This area of Tokyo is absolutely mental! The buildings are all so quirky on the outside and everything else is really kitsch. The weirdest looking structure has to be the Fuji TV building, with its floating sphere.

And, of course, there's a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty.

For some reason there is a giant model of Gundam (I think he looks like a transformer...) that moves and lights up.

Odaiba is also home to four of the biggest shopping malls I have ever seen. One even includes an amusement park, it's that big. Venus Fort is decked out on the inside to look like 'Italy':

And two floors of Decks have been turned into Hong Kong:

There's a Toyota showroom that's so big, it has its own indoor test track:

This double-act were hanging about outside one of the malls (the monkey looks genuinely unimpressed...):

And these two pretty much made my day:

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