Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's new in Tokyo. And how one of my neighbors bought Viber.

The last few days in Tokyo, living a Travelife, I've been meeting lots of old friends who I haven't seen in a while.

After all, I haven't been to Tokyo in over six months. Instead, in these six months, I was in Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia -- and twice in South Africa.

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Many interesting things have been happening during this time.

For instance, one of my neighbors, who founded Rakuten, the Japanese online shopping portal that is perhaps one of the most important Internet companies in the world today, bought Viber a few weeks ago.

He owns a whole lot of things, including a Japanese baseball team. And now he also owns Viber, the phone APP so many people use to keep in touch with friends and loved ones.

He literally lives a few steps from me, and I can see his home from my living room.


Then there's all these new and rather interesting trends in this city, which is so into trendy things.

For one thing, pancakes are very hot now -- and especially pancakes from Hawaii.

Yes, the pancakes can't just be from anywhere to be a hit -- they need to be from Hawaii, for some reason.

And these pancake places from Hawaii that have recently set up shop in Tokyo are doing amazing business, especially in the fashionable Omotesando and Harajuku areas.

They're apparently selling US$30 pancakes with all kinds of flavorings -- and people are actually lining up for hours for the privilege of ordering and eating these very expensive pancakes.

I asked my friend Y: "Are the pancakes really that good?"

It's hard for me to justify eating a US$50 pancake unless it's really out of this world. Not only because it sounds pretty over-priced, but also for the unwanted calories involved. Coincidentally, I just read somewhere that eating six pancakes will set you back at least six hours of exercise.

Y said to me: "My husband makes better pancakes."

She must be happy to save that US$50 for something else.


The other big thing in Tokyo apparently is popcorn.

People are going crazy over US$50 fancy tins of popcorn with all kinds of interesting flavors. These tins of popcorn are -- excuse the pun -- selling like hotcakes, in this city that never sleeps.

I guess that's why everyone needs the popcorn. They're all awake and living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife....

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