Friday, September 10, 2010

Chapter Two: Shopping and Noise

We live in Kobama-todai (short for tokyo daigaku or tokyo university). The closest, biggest shopping station is shibuya, which is featured in "Lost in Translation". This is a 5-pointed star intersection and just a chaos at all times filled with so many people, always, that you feel like you are part of a large antfarm.  It is thee trendy spot for teenagers, so it caters to that group. Except for the huge electronics store, a cheap but good store for household things, and tokyo foodshow, shibuya should be avoided in my opinion but from where we live, all subways go through shibuya, so we are there often.

Here is street level shot of shibuya at a quite time of day. Does not do justice to the multitudes and masses.

Shibuya is famed for the Hachiko story of the dog that waited dutifully at the trainstation everyday at the appointed time waiting for his friend to come, and he continued loyally long after that person passed away. Well, i clearly wanted to see this more than niko, who seemed rather thrilled to venture here.

Clearly, someone has outgrown this story...Nearby Shibuya is the superchic Omotesando which is Les Champs Elysees de Tokyo lined with the most expensive and chicest stores. Great little cafes. Nothing affordable but that is not the point. This photo is for a friend, and alas, i do not know Monsieur Mikimoto, but he has a store on this little block.

Close to omotesando is takashitadori, the famed locale of the Harajuku garu ("garu" is girls in japlish) and the anime characters and this is a street where everyday is halloween. It attracts all kinds. We watched a bunch of harajuku garu dressed like emo (goth types who like to cut themselves) doing a square dance.

then you have folks making political statements. there were no takers, after all, it was nearly 100F and so humid, everyone had sweat-stained shirts, including the sign holders. please. you couldn't pay me...

Niko, naturally, has a favorite store on this Omotesando, called Kiddyland.  It is a compressed Toys R Us, as this is Tokyo after all.  Crammed along all available wall and floor space are millions of toys, all the collectible japanese plastic toys that drive kids and parents to distraction.  pokemon, bakugan, bey blades, all are here. niko spent an hour deliberating between two plastic-metal spinning tops (a bey blade), while i had to listen to the noise of millions of toys beeping, honking, whizzing, firing, and kiddies crying, begging, yelling in a mishmash of every language known to man as this is a prime kiddie tourist locale. here is niko in front of his "mikimoto" in profound deliberation...

why noise and shopping? well, no matter the store, there is noise, noise, noise. the yamadadenki store near shibuya is the best place to buy electronics. however, the experience even took its toll on my personal buddha, Mari, whose patience was sorely tested. there is the ear-splitting racket, and then there is the process. you cannot simply go to the electronics store, pull an item off the shelf and head to checkout line. no, you first must go speak to a concierge who tells you how you will shop. then, you get a pad and paper from one of his junior colleagues who explain that you must write down the make, model, and number of the product in which you are interested, then you come back. when we are writing down such products, we had a question about an electric mixer, but the closest store attendant was just the coffee maker expert. he stands waiting, poised and on alert, just to answer coffee maker questions. no, we had to ask the mixer expert who was nowhere to be found. then, once that is done, you go back to concierge, they will check on what things are available. that takes time, too. then, you can go to payout, but that sometimes takes an hour as they ask whether you want to get points for your purchases. at this point, we abandoned ship, took our white sheet of paper to expedite our return trip, but seriously, no products and fours hours wasted.  when we bought tv, that took 4 hours, and it took over an hour to pay, and i could not have bought anything, as you have to fill out your address in japanese or kanji, especially if you want delivery. for some products like cell phones, you cannot get these if you are here as a tourist, and since my "status" is being processed, poor mari gets stuck with all the schlepping wonder this economy is in a state of decline, the inefficiency of buying electronics was mind-blowing.

But, there is a silver lining.  FOOD! oishimono (delicious things!).  me and my stomach are in seventh heaven. Below Shibuya is Tokyo Food Show, and it is just filled with the freshest seafood, meats, veggies and fruit, lots of special japanese foods, gelati, french breads and patisserie, and it is all so perfect in taste, and the best are the bento boxes. here are some sample pics:

this sashimi is as good as it looks, and that was dinner tonight!
 What follows are the world's most expensive bagels at nearly 2 dollars apeice, but each are individually wrapped and made that day, and the world's tastiest but smallest doughnuts, which are all the size of an Oreo cookie.
 Here come the doughnuts:
I will post more food over the coming weeks.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting adventure where i do battle with trash and recycling.....

Chapter Three: Gomi Day (Garbage Day) and Risto's Meltdown (almost nuclear)

1 comment:

  1. Donuts??? It all looked pretty much as I expected until that picture. Next you will send me a picture of some BBQ ribs, right?