Tag Archives: shopping

EPIC Tokyo Trip part 2

Standard

Talk about a long time gone. I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of my year of fabulousness in Japan. Thankfully, I’ve had some more free time lately and am catching up on logging my many adventures during that year. This is the first of many catch up blogs.

Actual time of post: July 2011

Saturday

WOOOOOooooo….oooo nonono no no. The morning started out well enough as we made our way to my first day in Harajuku. I was pumped, ready for action. I even did great on the subway. The 10 min switch at Shinjuku to get to Harajuku, however, did me in. I was an idiot and squeezed in with people… facing backwards. Yay. I spare you the gruesome details but let’s just say that I almost didn’t make it to the rest room. After this, I was queasy the rest of the day. Nicole’s friends met us for burgers at this pretty sweet joint. I had the most awesome avocado, cheese, and bacon burger sitting infront of me but… I just couldn’t do it. So I wrapped it up and took it with me. Notice I said that I wrapped it up. Japan isn’t so great with the doggy bag idea.

We split off after that for a little while her friends did some stuff. I can never live anywhere near anything like Harajuku. I would never have money. I ended up finding a lolita shop, Bodyline, and it’s now my favorite. They even ship to the states so I can continue this unfortunate addiction later. Why are they so good? Because the prices are reasonable. If I buy a regular lolita outfit, it’s so expensive that I’m scared to do any alterations to it; add lace here, buttons there, whatever. These Bodyline pieces are fantastic. I’ve only been able to wear the outfit I bought a couple times thus far but being out in the country, there’s not a whole lot of opportunity… and my wardrobe is not extensive enough to be lolita 24/7.

For real this time, Nicole and I went home on time. We were checking the time like the white rabbit. We got all dolled up and headed out for a night on the town in Shibuya, evidently the gay district. They have a whole district! So we got a cheap dinner at Sukiya, bowl of rice with meat on top and other things, and started taking in ‘the sights’. I wish I could’ve just walked around taking pictures. Lot’s of drag. Mostly all men. I was all done up with a corset and a tutu type skirt and I looked normal. I think the boobies gave me away, though. We stopped in at the first bar and it was pretty good. My main issue with it was the music. Sometimes the DJ just can’t feel the vibe. We made our way to the next club and it was a little better and people were starting to have a good time but it was starting to be that time so we split.

I love the looks I get from the hotel receptionists late at night. I’m sure they’ve seen it all.

Sun:

I have to admit how impressive the trains in Tokyo can be. Always on time… sometimes early. Because in Japan, to be early is to be on time. The above photo was morning on a Sunday so not too busy yet. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of rush hour when they’re cramming folks in on top of each other. Go here for that.

We headed to a local okonomiyaki place for some yumyums and to meet up with Nicole’s long time fan-dom friend, Liv. This was Tokyo style so it was a little different. I got the seafood version with shrimp and octopus and so on. Very delicious. Couldn’t finish it and felt bad about it. That’s not really a compliment in Japan… ever.

We then made our way to particular district known for it’s crazy fan-dom shops. However we had a nice surprise along the way. Lots of wall art! Some were old, some new, some in progress. All were lovely and really added to the beauty of the underground crossways (there’s a whole city of platforms and trains and stores under Tokyo).

Then came some heavy shopping – for Nicole and Liv, anyway. I’m not much for fan-dom stuff. I’d rather spend my money on food, clothes, karaoke, and adventures. But I can respect their love of these idols. It’s almost an art form.

Then we met up with another friend and had some fun in a fancy karaoke room. We ate, we drank, we sang and when the time was up, we took our time getting back to the hotel (got some snacks at a conbini on the way).

Mon:

Time to pack up and leave! But not before…

Odaiba! We wandered and talked and ate yummy burgers at a Hawaiian place Nicole was familiar with and it was such a good choice.

Then we headed to the castle. We were too late for a tour for the day but it was lovely just to see it from the outside. Besides, you see the inside of one Japanese castle, you see them all, right? Still, it is fascinating how such a peaceful, old world kind of place can be sitting in Tokyo.

We got hungry so we stopped at an izukaya. I’ve been to better. But it did the job. We still had some time to kill and debated about going to a karaoke place but on our way, came across what we think was an early Obon festival. Some fabulous yosakoi going on, too. What was so amazing was how it was just tucked away between a bunch of huge buildings. We heard the music and just followed it until we saw the big read gates all lit up and found the cutest little temple. Such a shame we had already eaten, too… I have a weakness for Japanese festival food.

We did end up singing some karaoke for a while but not too long since we had a free bath waiting for us before the bus ride. Lucky for us, it was in the host district. It was certainly an experience. I’ve seen women on street corners but never men. Supposedly there’s no sex involved but I think we all know how that works. They didn’t seem too interested in us foreign ladies though. So we found our bathhouse and got to it. I highly recommend it, too. I slept like a baby on the bus ride home.

Check out the whole Album.

With love- M

Advertisements

Spend the moneyz

Standard

Shopping in Japan and building a cozy apartment.

What’s harder than shopping for your first apartment? Shopping for your first apartment in a country where you don’t really know the language. My first night in Nanao I had to wait for the gas guy and the delivery dude so I didn’t get out for dinner until almost dark. I think it was close to 7pm. So I made my way as best I could in the direction I thought would have the most civilization. Thankfully, I was right. I got to 159 and found a drug store, a bookstore/tsutaya (rental store), a Nafco (homegoods), and finally a Sunkus (conbini). I got my first real conbini bento style meal and headed home.

Thankfully, I had internet right away and was able to communicate with the other two Interac ALT’s that lived close by in this way. The following days were filled with exploration, adventures (aka getting lost and finding cool stuff accidently), and a lot of shopping. I might have different requirements than most people when it comes to necessities in my apartment so bear with me as I go through the list. Since the bedding I had ordered through Interac was not up to my Princess needs, this was at the top of my list. Nafco is where it’s at, kids. I got a nice foam pad, a cover for said pad, another plush cover on top of that since it was still cold, a bean bag sort of pillow, and a big plush blanket to go under the comforter that I had ordered. I decided not to get a regular futon set, though they were very well priced and looked warm and cozy, because I saw none that caught my fancy. I can say that I am still very happy with my purchases and the extra blankets came in handy when my boyfriend came to visit later on.

Next I was on the prowl for something for my floor. It was naked. I didn’t like the chairs in the apartment (uncomfortable to sit in, no real back to it so no lumbar support). I didn’t want sit-down seating. I wanted floor style seating. So I found a huge area rug that I liked, also washable! And a table with a floor chair that bent into different angles. I felt accomplished once it was set out. Later I found some floor pillows elsewhere that I liked and 2 shelf units with some canvas drawers. Had to put those together Ikea style but I prevailed.

     

Then I made two purchases that I probably should have waited on… but didn’t. The first was a kotatsu set. I don’t have a kotatsu. Nor do I really want one or have room for one in this little Leo Palace apartment. I also paid way more for it than I thought I was without realizing it until it was too late. I could have returned it but I got the better of myself and decided to keep it as being my one big ‘take home after I’m done’ purchase. The second was a monitor. I have a laptop that has a screen that works for the most part. It’s started to be goofy lately and sputter a lot. It drives me nuts when it does that. It was to the point where the screen had to be tilted back to a 30 degree angle. So I gave in and found a nice 23in monitor at Joshin. Love it. So much. I’ve never had a monitor so big and so clear. It was on sale of course, just like the kotatsu set was, but they were still very large purchases that perhaps could have waited until after the first paycheck. Because of this, I’m down to my last stash of moneys. This is a tale for the wise.

The actual shopping was an adventure on its own. I count myself lucky that Nafco had just about everything I needed in one place. Knowing only basic Japanese, I tried my best to communicate when needed. Thankfully, I usually didn’t need more than thank you, excuse me, and sorry. Sometimes I’d get a curve ball. I suppose it’s good practice. Just like trying to read the signs and prices correctly while still being a good shopper and compare said prices for the best deal.

These little shopping interactions were my first real interactions with Japanese people (in Japan, anyway) and they became little stepping stones of understanding. Doing a lot of shopping alone was helpful, too, because then I didn’t rely on those around me who understood Japanese better than myself. I never know what I can really do until I’m left to fend for myself, I suppose. Anyway, I was learning. I made some mistakes but all in all, I think I came out on top. If there is a top. Oh and if anyone would like a more detailed explanation of how I did with money (like how much did I bring, what was most expensive, things to watch out for and so on) please ask.

Next post: driving and what we found in the first week. Prepare yourself.

With love – M