Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happiest Place on Earth--to nap

We have a Disneyland in Tokyo. When I say this, people often say, "Is it like the one here?" To which, I am compelled to say, "Yes-except that Mickey Mouse has slanty eyes." But I don't. Because, that's right, I am a nice Japanese girl.

Between LA and Tokyo, I have been to Disneyland about ten times. To answer the above question seriously, yes, it looks exactly like the one in the states but the workers are Japanese UNLESS they are playing specific characters. Then they are imported. But they all have been trained in that Disney fashion so they are super smiley and bubbly in the same way--which is nice and creepy at the same time. There are some differences in rides--you can actually take a tour inside Cinderella's castle, but no Matterhorn in Tokyo, and things like that.

But the biggest difference is in what the visitors think are most important. Japanese people are coo-coo for the parade. The sight you would NEVER see in the States' Disneyland is the dads, who have been dragged there, are all napping on picnic blankets HOURS before the parade to secure the best spot for their families.

Let me give you the back story for you to understand what is happening here. The dads (as we call, "salary men") in Japan are exhausted. They kill themselves for their company, working crazy long days to afford the best education for their kids, commuting long ways every day. All they want to do on their day off is to sleep. But they can't because they have the obligations to the families to entertain them. So they take them to Disneyland. But then they are too tired to walk around so they happily take this job of "securing the spot" for the parade because there, they are left alone and can nap. So what you get is the odd sight of homeless-like behavior of grown men just sleeping on blankets with newspapers over their faces, but they are dressed too well. And it's on Disneyland's Main Street. Some of them spend the entire morning just napping, which is the most expensive nap you can ever have, but if that's what it takes, that is what they do.

Just to expand on this dad thing, my older brother who lives in Tokyo and has three daughters once mumbled "it's really hard work being a dad, you know." He didn't mean the regular dad stuff that you might think of. There is also this event in every school that happens in the fall called "Undokai,"which translates to something like School Olympic, where every class competes in some athletic events and the family attends and it's a big to do. But this is also another place where dads are sent at as early as 5am to secure the best spot on the field to watch. Then during it, there is usually a relay race or sort by dads and if you don't take part, you will shame your kids, so no matter how sleep deprived, you do it. According to my brother, most dads are horribly out of shape and don't own any good running shoes. So during these races, you see dads not making the corners well, face planting, glasses flying off and not winning, which shames their kids anyway.

If you ever visit Tokyo, you will see these men on the subway, sleeping deeply. If you get on the subway late at night, you'll see these men drunk off of their butts and sleeping. Please don't disturb them.