Since today was a holiday (autumn equinox), we decided to start exploring our surroundings a bit and go to Kashiwa city. The train station is an half hour bus ride away from the campus. Over and around the station, a big shopping complex has grown. Looking down from the station, Kashiwa really looks like one imagines a Japanese town.
First, we checked out Takashimaya, a big and rather expensive department store that goes back 1829, when they started as textile dealers. Most floors just had the usual Western designer brands and were therefore rather uninteresting for us. Domenico was trying to find new shoes, which turned out difficult, since the biggest size they had was 44, which, depending on the model, was just too small. The top floor sold traditional Japanese clothing, kimonos, sandals, hairpins, etc. All of these items were extremely costly, but it’s definitely the place to go for a foreigner.
Just for contrast, we went to the 100yen Store afterward, where you can get about everything imaginable for the household for 100 yen (about one Swiss Franc or 64 Euro Cents).
Walking on the streets gave me a surreal feeling. I really had to pay attention to shut my mouth once in a while, so amazed was I. And hey, this is not even Tokyo, but just a small suburb town!
Starved, we started looking for a place to have lunch. We settled for a Japanese hamburger place. The hamburger I got was apart from its small size, the a bit nonstandard sauce and the radish inside recognizable as such. What was in Domenico’s burger on the other hand, we were not able to figure out.
One oddity of going around in a Japanese shopping street is that one ends up picking up a ton of paper tissues. They use small packages of tissues as a medium for ads and give them out at every street corner.
After lunch, we tried out SOGO (founded 1830), another big and expensive department store. Here, Domenico was finally able to get shoes (not because they have bigger sizes, but because he happened to find a 44 that fit). Their household department fascinated us, because they sold absolutely fantastic pottery and lacquer ware. We already decided to invest our money a bit in this direction, but for now we were just looking. The most amazing part of SOGO is the basement floor, where expensive sweets and tea are sold. Each sweet looks like a little jewel, perfect in shape and color. And the packaging is amazing. They come assorted in beautiful little gift cartons, metal boxes, etc. I could spend a lot of money in this place…… But we were good and just bought ourselves a small dorayaki cake (sweat bean paste sandwiched between two fluffy, cold pancakes).
After our little shopping expedition, I was quite exhausted. But this time was just for practice. Next time, it’s gonna be Tokyo……