Friday equals freedom and today was no exception. After classes Lizzie and I checked out the curry house across the way from campus, Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, a chain that’s also near my house as well as like 5,000 other places in this city. It was actually pretty good, although I will admit to getting only a salad since I had curry last night. I felt like a traitor to the system but I think I can handle it. Lizzie went with a cheese-filled hamburger curry, which apparently tasted as good as it sounds. If there’s one around and you’re fine with something a bit unoriginal I would recommend this place for sure. Here’s one of their signs outside the door; it was cute enough to warrant a picture.
I headed down to Kawaramachi after that to dink around; I feel like I’ve been missing a part of my Kyoto-self without having tripped down here for a few weeks. Alas, all was right as I rode toward my favorite spots and, despite having been in this routine for a few months now, questioned if I get off at Sanjo or Shijo (tip, future self – it’s Sanjo, always Sanjo). And so began my chain of wandering.
I checked out that Danish store Flying Tiger first, drawn in by the Christmas tunes and the new display they’d changed to match the season. I was greeted by a whole corner of Christmas trees, ornaments, earrings, stockings, candy and decorations. I mean hot damn, this was a noteworthy display. Paired with the classic Christmas music and the fun array of goodies? Very impressed and, despite it being too early for this crap at home, made me . . . not exactly nostalgic, but very much in the cozy, cheery Christmas mood quite a few of us know and practice in some way or another. I just bumbled through singing along to myself and admiring the cool stuff, particularly the shark mouth pet bed (thought of you, Emily) and how I wish I had a pet (not just a Miao-chan I want to steal) that I could get the bed for – and sorry ZoZo, you’re about 80 lbs too big for that crap.
After that was some browsing around in the dollar store, where I got me some nifty socks and some even niftier kitchen goods, aka 2 mini silicone baking mats, one flat and one gridded side for meat, fish and veggies. God am I so excited to use these (hint, this stuff is one of the many paths to my heart). From there I popped into Muri and the store below it, which I came away from with nothing but I did have an observation I wanted to jot here. Muri is this magical wonderland where everything is simple and stocked in bulk, and the hip woodern-urban-industrial feel pairs well with this style. Imagine long rows of shelves where everything is sparsely packaged and it looks like a warehouse – basic and abundant. It’s nice and convenient, yet I feel like this is what a dystopia would be. Everything is the same, and while it’s not at all bland and I appreciate the aesthetic it is all rather impersonal. It also feels more catered to a more uppity eco-hipster crew in that with the minimalist design it gives a clean product with a polished feel. This all feels very analytical but it also reminds me of how privileged I am to be here in a weird way, and that’s important to me. So it gets a paragraph.
Following that was some more floating about, which was fun and felt pretty free in that I honestly just whirled my way through more than a handful of stores on a whim, took it all in and breezed off. In a country where (more than) enough of the language is foreign that you can just walk around and feel the world passing on by, and in more than just an ‘I’m out of it’ sort of way, it’s a very keen feeling. I rather enjoy it.
At another dollar store I got 2 face washes for a buck each, and they’re both quality and smell great. Step up your game America. This lead into Daimaru, where I normally like to browse their sale pottery – specifically teacups and rice bowls – but they rearranged everything for Christmas and it sucks. Way different setup, much smaller sale section and a pitiful variety. Not worth the 8-escalators worth of the trip it was, but oh well! Then, finally, I found Tokyu Hands. This magical place is a store I went to with okaa-san ages ago but just finally had the time/energy/navigational skills to find again today. I spent a whooole lotta time screwing around in there, and I came out with this adorable polar bear lunch bag that’s been on my mind since the last trip there. Err, kind of on my mind. They actually had a hedgehog one I really wanted, but alas it seems they’d sold out. Sad, but I took it upon myself to sell them out of the polar bear one (mine was the last in stock). Also very excited about that.
Okay also I don’t know what the hell it is about this country but they love corn? On the cob, dumped on top of salads, in ready-to-microwave plastic packs?! I found this at the dollar store and spent more than a few minutes just staring at it in my hand in disbelief.
Once my excitement was done I came home to a lovely melted-cheese topped chicken breast, clam chowder and sparkling sweet wine. Mhmmm. Although during dinner otou-san started cough-choking, which is always scary to me, but this time was particularly bad. The whole time okaa-san was like (and I paraphrase, but the gist is real) “Yo, you’re being so annoying god go do that in the other room. Don’t worry Liz, I’m sorry he’s so loud and does that all the time, anyways . . .”. I mean, he could die?! So I’m gonna be concerned?! But that was fun. I just fear that one day he’ll really be choking and she’ll just keep reading her paper and telling him to get over it because damn, who could read with that noise, only for her to turn around and find him dead. Real worries over here. The night finished with no problems after that though, and we watched The Cat Returns which I actually understood a fair bit of. It helped that I’ve seen it before, but that was only once so I’ll feel proud of myself. Well it’s about time for this butt to get snoozin’, so thanks for reading and peace out.
*Cultural note: despite America having a real reason for people to get pissed at post-Halloween capitalism jumping straight to Christmas stuff, aka THANKSGIVING (it’s a whole historical event buttheads in corporate, so respect it with some freaking turkey decorations or something), Japan has no such thing and is therefore righteous in Christmas decorations. I’m just disturbed because in America it’s a ridiculous oversight of another holiday. End note.