I’m going to use my new favorite phrase now.
So I was shopping in Ginza today…
… yeah, that’s my new favorite phrase.
Some massive stores in Ginza (with matching prices, I’m sure!)
Seibu department store:
Anyway, I was shopping in Ginza today, looking for two stationery stores mentioned in Time Out Tokyo. But first, I hit the Sony Building to look at their shiny toys.
I saw a 70″ 1080p (not i) HDTV that’s coming out soon. Drool.
They also had some great artist-designed laptops, but not only weren’t they for sale, but they had chiclet-style keys, which aren’t my favorite. I also saw those same kinds of keys on the new iBook at the Apple Store, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Sony building isn’t as big as you’d think. But the way it’s laid out is interesting. You start on the first floor, look at stuff, climb 3-4 steps, look at more stuff, and so on… until you hit the 6th floor, where you can buy stuff. There really isn’t anything earth-shattering here, just a lot of Sony stuff. Some of it is neat, most of it I’ve already seen at Bic and Yodobashi. The 70″ Flat panel 1080p HDTV was nice. Very very nice. Probably costs well over $20k, though.
Then I got my bearings again, and went to Kyukyodo, a very nice stationery store. I looked around a bit, then saw an interesting calligraphy exhibit on the 3rd and 4th floors, and moved on. It’s a nice store, with some really good-looking calligraphy tools, but if you really want stationery, head a few blocks down Ginza Dori to Itoya.
Itoya. It’s like heaven for those of us who love pens, paper, paint, brushes, and all of that good stuff. I found all kinds of neat things there. I found brushes for my brother-in-law, and I also found brush markers for myself (don’t worry Bill, I got you a few as well.) They’re black ink markers, but they have a synthetic brush tip. Not felt. It’s an actual brush. Very cool. I got my mom some fine paper and envelopes, and I bought myself a pretty printed calendar and some flat bar paperweights for calligraphy.
If I had time, I would have spent all day there. They have 3 different buildings. They even have a scrap-booking center, if you’re into that. (My sister is.) The main building has 8 floors and a basement full of goodies. Just look for the big red paperclip next to Matsuya department store.
Just a ways back towards the station and across the street is the Apple Store on Ginza Dori. It’s nice. It’s an Apple Store. I checked it out, but it didn’t really do much for me. Really, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. It’s not like they have anything special there you can’t get at the mall, you know?
Look, it’s LV! So it’s Ginza!
Ginza is nice, but it’s mostly overpriced. Itoya was one of the more reasonable places I found there. Most of the other stuff is boutique stuff with names of people I couldn’t care less about.
But then those who know me, know that I’m not one to worry about names as much as I worry about pockets. You can’t have enough pockets!
After that, it was time to move on to Marunouchi, and a visit to Maruzen, the other wonderful bookstore in Tokyo. After a short ride on the Marunouchi line, followed by lots of wandering underground, and offers of help from nice people, I found exit B-4, and found the way to Maruzen. (I wound up closer to Tokyo station than to Otemachi station, though.)
So Maruzen. Ahh… so many nice Japanese books. I did find a really nice JP-> JP dictionary that was mentioned on another site here:
I thought I was looking in the right area, but in the end I had to cave in and ask for help.
I also raided their manga section. Manga is a great way to learn Japanese while being entertained at the same time. The downside is that it’s pricey outside of Japan. $3 for manga here, compared to $9-$15 in the U.S. I’d buy more from Amazon.co.jp, but the shipping is too painful.
So I’m stocking up here.
The downside– it’s all heavy.
Carrying it all around drained me. I was starving, so I stopped at a cafe underneath Maruzen, grabbed a bite, then hit the Marunouchi line back to Shinjuku. Then I took time to grab a quick shower and rest a little.
Harajuku, Kiddy Land, and Roppongi
Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be rainy, so one priority tonight is to find an umbrella that does not suck. Most of the umbrellas you can get here fail utterly to cover my American bigness. I’m not fat, I’m just tall with broad shoulders and a barrel chest. (Wait, am I fat???) I’ll put it this way– I’m not fat for an American. In the U.S., I use a golf umbrella, and that works okay.
After a little rest and recovery, it was off to Harajuku to go to Kiddyland, a 5- story toy store. But it’s not the kind of toy store you’d expect. They have some cool stuff, and some weird stuff. Not all of it is for kids, either. I found some presents there. Prowling all the various levels was fun. The 4-foot high stuffed Hello Kitty was a little creepy, but Kitty-chan is popular here.
One thing you’ll notice pretty quickly is that most stores in Japan are multi-floor, so there will be a cashier on each floor to take all of your purchases to. I suppose it’s not really different from US department stores, really. Stores are taller in the big cities in Japan because it’s cheaper to build “up” than “out,” unlike most of the US.
I guess because I live in a more suburban area in the U.S., I’m not used to going to stores with a lot of floors. I’m more used to 20,000-50,000 square foot one-story monster stores with just one checkout area.
I set off for Roppongi to see Tokyo Midtown and have dinner there. Tokyo Midtown is a huge building with lots of expensive stores and some expensive and some kind-of-reasonably-priced restaurants. I had dinner there, because I heard there were a lot of good restaurants there. And they do exist. It’s just that some close at 9 p.m., some close at 11 p.m., and some close at midnight. It’s a little confusing. Most of the carry-out restaurants close at 9 p.m., so if you remember that, you’re one step ahead of the game.
I found a nice little restaurant and had some fried cheese wontons, followed by some squid tempura (which was incredible: so soft, and not chewy), and some small slices of roast duck with grilled spring onion. With 2 ginger ales, that wound up costing 3,300 yen.
But it was so good.
A tip– if you go to a restaurant and can’t make heads or tails out of the menu, ask if they have an English menu. A lot of restaurants do.
“Eigo no menyuu ga arimasu ka?” It’s a very handy phrase to know.
Then I made a blunder. I got Tokyo Midtown’s tower confused with Tokyo Skyview, which is also in Roppongi. Midtown does NOT have an observation deck available to the public, or so the sign told me.
Shinjuku at Night
It was almost 10, so I caught a train back to Shinjuku, and after consulting the 4 squids trying to hump each other, also known as the map of the Tokyo subway and train lines, I figured out which tentacle to ride back. I’ve consulted many versions of this map, and nobody seems to be able to make it not look confusing.
Just go with it.
The train ride back was crowded. Even at 10 p.m., the trains are packed. Get used to it. I recommend wearing clothes that breathe. Much as I love cotton, it doesn’t breathe. That’s one big regret right there.
When I got back to JR Shinjuku, I took a few photos from the bridge:
JR Shinjuku at night:
Time Square decorations:
The rain has already started, and I don’t have a decent umbrella, so that will be my first objective for tomorrow. Or maybe my second. First I need to figure out what to do in the rain. At least in Tokyo there are a lot of underground passages to get from one place to another, and that’s pretty darn handy.
I’m thinking I may head to Jinbo-cho to check out some print stores, and some book stores there. One other thing I need to locate is a cardboard tube, and maybe someone there will know where I can acquire one.
There are SO many things I want to buy here… ugh. Must restrain self, must restrain self…