My last outing in Japan was back to downtown Hakata. We were going to do Daiso, which is a dollar store company… and the one in Hakata is the largest in the city.
We started off by having lunch at Ippudo in Hakata station. This is a well-known chain of restos that specialize in ramen… Kyushu is ramen capital of Japan, and the ramen we had (I forget the name of it now) is a specific regional type that is famous across the nation. So I knew we were in for some good noodz. If I ever open a ramen shop, that’s what I’m going to name it: Good Noodz.
The place itself was all bench seating with only one or two tables within the entire place. It was during the off hour, and there still was a line-up… Although the pork tonkatsu was a little fatty, this was the best ramen I’ve had so far… it was seriously awesome. The gyozas were tiny (called Hakata Gyoza, apparently?) and like little crispy bite-sized dumplings. Chomp!
You’re shuffled in and it’s like a quick stop lunch, very quickly served and then you leave quickly to make room for the next people lined up outside. There were quite a few people catching lunch on their own. And we were the only foreigners in the place. From those signs alone, even before I slurped my first noodle, I knew it was going to be good stuff.
After the ramen, we headed over to the Daiso. Daiso is a dollar store, where everything in the store is 100 yen… but the quality of goods is amazing. It’s on par with the stuff at Wal-mart or even Shoppers… but it’s all a buck. Crazy. And they had everything, too – kitchenware, household goods, textiles and towels, and it’s all super clean and spacious, with various huge labelled sections. It was huge, too – pretty much the size of a medium Wal-mart (not that I shop there >.>) Now, I’m not dollar store crazy like Carey is, who loves a good deal, but I could see why she goes nuts over it. You can get all your basic daily goods, all high quality, all for a buck a piece. The overall standard of living may be high in Japan, but I think I would spend less here than in Canada on a day-to-day basis between the Daiso, the cheap food at grocery, and the konbins - I’d just have to give up fresh vegetables… which is no big loss for me anyway. :)
After the Daiso, we went to Tokyu Hands, which is a 7 floor department store, focussed on crafts and hobbies. They even had a counter in the hardware section where you could get your shoes expertly re-soled.
I saw this display wall and immediately thought of my sisters.
Bought more stuff and souvenirs, then bought some coffee and donuts for a midday recharge. It was a perfect example of Japan’s crazy obsession with packaging. The over-package and wrap everything, then put it all into another bag and tape it shut. It’s astonishing, considering everything else is this country seems so efficient and eco-conscious. And while there’s no litter anywhere on the ground ever, you have to wonder where all this garbage they create goes. Oh yeah, they separate all their burnables (which includes all plastics, for some insane reason), and use it as combustible fuel for power generation! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! They burn garbage for energy!?
This is what two drinks and two donuts “to go” looks like in Japan. It equals three paper bags, a plastic over-bag, two separate cardboard cup holders, two plastic wetnaps, two wax paper sheets for holding the donuts while eating, and pre-packaged creamer/sugar/napkin sets. Ready for the incinerator!
Wait, so they give us wetnaps to clean our hands at the start, but ALSO give us wax paper sheets for holding the donuts while we eat (because they have a germaphobe thing with touching food with their hands)? I’m getting mixed messages here.
I came up with the idea that maybe it’s a psychological thing – Japan is so against eating on the go or in public spaces that aren’t designated eateries, that they’re trying to shame you into eating in the store - because it otherwise generates so much garbage. Maybe that’s it? Like, this is just one example, though. When buying pretty much anything in the store, you can usually expect at least one wrapping and one taped-shut bag. You get the clasped-hands mid-ranged bow at the end of transaction only sometimes, though.
After some more walkabouts, we did claw-game. We went to three different arcades this time, and even took a 100 yen bus to the other downtown (Tenjin) to go to a different one. We’ve become discerning; we know the good stores and the good toys, and we don’t waste our time on the easy plushies anymore. Sadly, I forgot to get pics of our haul this time – but I won a box prize this time! Wooo! We got a couple of boxed dolls, and 2-3 plushies… one of them being a battery-powered cat about the size of a basketball that wobbles around from a little motor inside! Carey has a serious toy collection now. She’s worried about how she’s going to get it all home, haha.
Lastly, we stopped by a 270 for dinner and a couple drinks. This one was a lot less English-friendly than in Tokyo, but we managed. Thankfully it had pictures on the electronic menu. Some basic finger foods (wee-nah!) and some drinks. I’m an expert now: “Nama biru. Futatsu.” (“Two draft beers, please.”) I don’t even have to point at the picture on the menu anymore. Ehm! (/head nod)
I had wasabi-tako again. Not as good as Tokyo – the wasabi wasn’t strong enough for me… but this one had pieces that had suckers on ‘em! Click the picture for my detail of its goodness! Carey even tried some! Nummers!
Then home, to have my final day in the Land of the Rising Sun. It was a good day, lots of fun stuff. A good closer to my trip… I like the mundane stuff like shopping and noticing little things, as opposed to the touristy stuff. I mean, seeing crazy stuff like Roppongi Tower or the Monkey Park is nice and fun enough, but daily life is a lot more interesting to me. Seeing the school kids in their little uniforms and all wearing the same yellow hat, or noticing that all the public facing attendants (bus drivers, subway guards, etc) all wear white gloves. Anyway, tomorrow will be quiet… last day. :(