Department stores

Japan is a consumer market, people love to spend, buy, they love brands, but they also love details, nice things, brands, luxury, quality. Along with that, for over a century, there have been a lot of department stores (Takashimaya, Matsuzakaya, Isetan, Mitsukoshi, etc)

My favourite remains Isetan for the B1F, food department and the 5F, tableware. I must say I also like Takashimaya historical building in Nihombashi for the architecture and the style.

They sell beautiful cakes made by Dominique Ansel and delicious Swiss Chocolate Laederach that I highly recommend

If you ever read The Ginger Tree, wonderful book written by Oswald Wynd, you will read part of the development of these stores in the early 1900’s

 

Anime

Japan has a fascination with cartoons, manga, anime of all sorts. What a surprise to find in one of those anime shops that you can buy THE Willy Wonka Chocolate….

 

 

Should I check whether I get the golden pass in one of those?

Kappabashi

This is an area in the north of Tokyo, close to Asakusa and Ueno, walking distance from both and at metro stop Tawaramachi where you can find all you need to cook

This long street is full of kitchen utensils shops, initially dedicated to restaurants but that grew for tourists and individuals. anything you want is there at very good prices

worth a visit, if you are into cooking, I spent 3 hours there wandering on a Saturday

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Nara – more tips

Like Kyoto, Nara is known for the Tsukemono, pickled vegetables, they have wonderful traditional shops in the main street for this with all sorts of pickles and employees preparing them in the back of the shop, enjoy, there are worth the taste

 

Japan also produces Manju – biscuit filled with An, a red bean (asuki) paste, the shape varies with the season, it is always a delicious break

 

Rice

Kikuchi rice is the rice from Kumamoto, I quite like it. So far, the entry level for rice for someone like me, ignorant, is koshi-hikari. I tasted it in Niigata and since I can read Hiragana, I am able to buy it, it cooks quick, it is firm and the rice grains are rich.

Now, I suspect it is not really natural and these rices are results of genetic, hybrid, tests of all kinds. I got told that in the history, Japan had to feed his people and after WW II, they decided to find ways to guarantee productivity so that food would simply be there available, hence Koshi-Hikari.

This year, I heard too that there is a new brand available as Japanese were getting bored and a company thought there was demand for new product, taste, etc. I have not tried it yet but maybe one of you knows more and can elaborate or comment on this?

Valentine’s day in Japan

Here the tradition is that Japanese LADIES offer chocolate to their Valentine.

Men do nothing, just receive!

this turns into a massive commercial opportunity. look at the metro corridors in Ebisu this Tuesday evening, just before the big day, shops all along, ladies queuing and buying!

Fuku Bukuro

January is a fun moment in Japan as well. as of January 1st, shops displays Fukubukuro (lucky bags). For a cool price, the bag comes with all sorts of things. this creates massive queues depending on the shop.

My neighbor who sells carpets, even has these bags available for JPY 7000.- this year

 

https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/84405

 

but this is only available until January 3rd, after that, things go back to normal (and people to work)