Monday, May 26, 2008

A day in Tokyo

Leave my parents' home around midday. Have takoyaki (octopus balls) at Gindako for lunch. Eight balls of takoyaki for 500 yen (3.06 euro). Gindako is a nationwide chain. My hometown branch is located in a part of the railway station building that lunch takeaway stores occupy. Your choice includes Chinese, udon noodle, yakitori (grilled chopped-and-skewered chicken), croquettes, and bento boxes. All cost at most 1200 yen. It is hard to believe that everybody eats sandwiches every lunch on weekdays in the capital of some country in Europe. It'd be hard to believe for people in Stockholm, too, where almost every lunch place serves the same set of foods.

Pass the ticket barrier of the station and walk up to the platform where Juicer Bar sells freshly squeezed fruit juice: mango, melon, banana, etc. Take a 100ml cup of mixed fruit juice for 150 yen (0.92 euro). The store board says, "We will raise our price by 30 yen due to the recent world food price surge."

Take the Sobu line, and a 33-minute ride to the west takes me to Yoyogi station. Use the east exit of the station to walk to Shinjuku Takashimaya Times Square. Buy a bilingual art magazine Art It at Kinokuniya book store. Buy a pair of scissors at Tokyu Hands. The latest trend in scissors in Japan is fluorine-coated ones so that tapes and glue won't stick to scissors.

Go back to Yoyogi station and take Yamanote line. One station to the south is Harajuku. Get off the train and walk down on Omotesando boulevard to the east. Arrive at Tornado Mart where I asked to adjust the length of a pair of trousers that I bought last Wednesday. In addition to picking up the trousers, buy a black, tight, uniquely-designed jacket.

Walk down south to Shibuya. While the north side of Omotesando boulevard is packed with cutting-edge small boutiques for young men with Japanese original brands in stock (as written last Wednesday), the south side sees boutiques for Japanese people dreaming of Europe and America. These stores are horribly boring to me. I can find these stores in London, Stockholm, San Francisco, and other major cities in the West. Those on the north side are hard to find in the West.

Arriving in Shibuya, stop by at Tower Records. Buy a CD of gagaku music. Then stop by at Sakuraya where I browse USB flash drives. Japan produces a wide range of quirky USB flash drives like those shaped like sushi. I'm looking for a stylish one, and find IO Data's ToteBag series.

It's time to go home. Take the Hanzomon line to Kinshicho. Buy three cream puffs at Maple House in the railway station building. Beard's Papa is not the only cream puff available in Japan. Maple House's version has a cinamon flavor. Back at home, I eat it with my parents. All of us like it. And one cream puff costs 150 yen (0.92 euro). This is the kind of things Stockholm never offers me with...

Cheap but decent foods, cutting-edged design clothes, user-friendly stationery, and good-looking electronics items. That's what Tokyo offers. It's a paradise for materialistic people as we Japanese are.

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