It's about You. It's about Me. It's about YouMe Town.

Yesterday I proved a bit too busy to make a post here... not sure if I'm going to try and double-up for the day, but at least I'll get one more out!

So! YouMe Town! Which for awhile I thought was a franchise separate of the now-famous mall. After all, people kept referring to it as "yume town", and CLEARLY the sign says "you me". I guess I haven't been here long enough to realize that most Japanese could not care less about the proper pronunciation of a word/s, as long as it seems like a clever association to those who kind of know English.

Saga may be more or less Bumfuck, Japan, YouMe Town is a big deal. I have it on good authority that people traveled to Saga from other prefectures - even those on Honshu - to come and witness its colossal opening. While I initially reacted to this claim with a bit of incredulity, actually going to YouMe Town made me understand why this might be the case.

First, a tangent - Tokyo is a pretty crazy place. Hell, even Fukuoka is a madhouse compared to Saga-shi. There are so many people crowded into so little space that all the shops are build and indexed vertically. Getting a directory of the various bars/restaurants/shops you can go to usually involves a lot of neck-craning, and once you get inside things are still cramped. This is one of the down sides to living on a tiny, mountainous island - real estate stacks before it sprawls.

But not in Saga. Here YouMe Town's enormous pink cube of a sign can be seen far, far in the distance, a Sanrio-esque monolith amidst a slew of buildings that rarely push five stories. But for as high as it goes, the real immensity of the place is in how is spreads out, taking up space unapologetically. If you go to Mallage, you are probably going to be navigating around a lot of people. The walkways aren't exactly narrow, but some - those on the second floor especially - usually prohibit you from walking more than two or three side-by-side, and in this way it adheres to the "space is precious" mentality of Japan.

YouMe Town strives to overcome this problem and does a good job of it. It's so big that a few things even seem TOO large. The handrails on the second floor, for example, aren't really handrails at all - they're really more like fences. While in America you can comfortably set your hand on the rail and even bend over the barrier at your waist to have a look down, the Japanese are either scared of falling or never have tired arms. In either case, the oversized handrails take the fact of the mall's enormity and embellish it further with the illusion of scale - if the handrail is taller than you, then the rest of the place MUST be huge, eh?

I did not stay long enough to explore the entire mall, but i have to say there's a pretty intimidating selection. I found shops that sold things I couldn't find in Saga before, and the restaurant section has a strangely ritzy feeling to it, trumping American food courts by far. My only real complaint thusfar is that it's a little labyrinthine. The organization in some places seems VERY haphazard, with many shops getting tucked into weird holes or halls that must be murder on their number of passersby. I'd also be curious to see the exact structure of the thing, as American malls generally don't wind and interconnect in the ways Japanese malls do. I got lost a few times just walking around, only to make a loop I didn't know existed and end up back where I started -_-

Kind of a ramble there, but the final verdict is that you should definitely go, even if it's only to see the place and walk around. You'll also probably be able to do any shopping you were looking to tackle, so there's another reason for ya, too.

Anyway, still at school, feeling kinda sleepy, think I might walk around a bit. Peace.