Posts Tagged Daiei
After a few grueling days of traveling, my family decided that they wanted to take a day off and stay close to Hello House. I got a chance to catch up on some relaxing and video games, but my sister wanted to do some exploring.
The week before, I gave her directions to the Daiei department store near Mukogaokayuen station, which was only a 5 minute walk from Hello House. She returned after buying herself a Hello Kitty watch, feeling quite proud of herself because she didn’t get lost.
Today she went to Daiei again by herself. She came back an hour later looking distressed and said “we can’t go to Daiei anymore”. I asked her to explain.
It seems that she went to look at the kimono and yukata section of the store. The sales people came over to help, and before she knew it, she was trying on different fabrics, belts and accessories. “I looked like a princess” she told me, while trying to get through the story.
After trying on several combinations of clothing, the sales people started packing up everything and taking it to the cash register. My sister, who just went to look, had no ability to explain that she was not actually interested in buying. She somehow managed to communicate to the store staff that she didn’t have any money, but her dad would come back to pay for everything. When the message got through, she left the store and returned to Hello House.
Having been in a few awkward situations without the ability to communicate, I could completely understand her feelings. I tried my best not to laugh, and promised that we wouldn’t go back to Daiei before my family returned to Canada.
To the staff at Daiei, please accept our apologies for the confusion. Also, thanks for making my sister look like a princess, even for a few minutes.
I woke up “early” and went out with Hippie to Shop 99 to buy materials for a big breakfast. As a group we decided to rotate breakfast cooking responsibilities daily. Flounder cooked scrambled eggs, bacon and toast for the group.
After eating we went to Daiei supermarket for shopping and sightseeing. Going to a supermarket in a foreign country is always fun. Like me, the guys noticed the small shopping carts, the tiny meat section, the huge fish section, and the different products available. They particularly liked the horrible jingle that kept playing on repeat in the meat section. We got some supplied for breakfasts and lunches, and in addition picked up some mini donuts and Giant Pocky.
Other than groceries, we took some time looking around the department store. The guys were shocked by the “Black Music” section in the music store. In addition to rock, pop and classical, many music stores in Japan feature a section called “black music”. In it you will find rap, reggae, and R&B by artists of all skin tones. This name would be horribly inappropriate back home.
We returned to Hello House and worked out our schedule for the next few weeks while listening to Code Red’s music purchase – a CD of Japanese bands covering Green Day songs. While hanging out, we broke out the snacks from earlier. The donuts came in a box. Inside the box was a bag. Inside that bag were 36 small donuts individually wrapped in plastic. The amount of over-packaging in Japan is shocking, especially considering the strict rules about disposing of garbage.
The Giant Pocky was just like regular Pocky, but huge. While Hippie was in the middle of talking about something, someone (likely Flounder) jammed a Giant Pocky into his mouth and yelled “CHOCOLATE LOVE STICK!!”. My friends and I were never considered the most mature adults around.
One of the most important places in the Noborito area was the Daiei Department store. The Daiei building contained a department store, 99 yen shop and grocery store, all of which were important for daily life in Hello House. The closest Daiei was about a 5 minute walk from Hello House, directly across from Mukogaokayuen station.
During my first week in Noborito I stocked up on stuff for my room at the 99 yen store. Over the next year I ended up buying a small floor couch that folds down into a matress, a small stereo, a Playstation 2 and other items to decorate my room. There was a small photo studio outside the main entrance that I used regularly. For those too young to remember, cameras used to require film. Once the film was used up, you needed to take it somewhere to get developed and turned into prints. I paid extra for digital copies of my pictures on CD.
The grocery store was the most common place that I visited at Daiei. It was a well stocked regular grocery store with a large deli section filled with ready to eat bentos and other food. The food was prepared daily, so it needed to be sold before the end of the day. Starting around 8:00pm, one of the employees would walk around with discount stickers for the food. Discounts would start at 10% and increase regularly after that to a maximum of 50%. It was not uncommon to see a crowd of hungry salarymen (and a few English teachers) following the discount sticker guy around the store.
The only downside of the Daiei store was the annoying music. Certain areas of the grocery store would have their own music that would play over and over until it was firmly stuck in your head. To this day I remember the songs for the meat and fish sections. The worst was the Daiei Hawks victory song. Deiei used to own the Daiei Hawks baseball team, who are now known as the SoftBank Hawks. In 2003 The Hawks won the Japan Series title and the store did nothing but play the stupid Hawks song on repeat. I feel bad for the employees who had to endure the song day after day.
Having a department store nearby was one of the great things about living in Noborito, and went a long way in making my time in Kawasaki enjoyable.
The cold from hell is almost gone, but I lost my voice today, so no teaching for me. I ended up going shopping at Daiei with TimTam during the day because I didn`t need my voice for shopping. In the evening I went with TimTam and Lux to Mister Donut for 100 yen donuts. You really get what you pay for here. (i.e. the donuts sucked)
Woke up and started waiting for my luggage. I called home with the phone card that Nova gave to all new instructors. After my luggage arrived, I had a long awaited shower, and found that my shampoo had exploded in my bag. After some cleanup, I was shown to the nearest internet cafe by Lux from Kitchener. Ariel Diner is a cool place to surf the net – just order food or drink and surf almost all you want.
After that, I asked Lux for help with some shopping. We went to the 99 yen store and Daiei Depaato. I bought a small stereo and some food.
In the evening, the plan was for all the Canadians from the train the previous day to meet up and go for drinks. My landlord Seiko gave me a map to the apartment we were meeting at, and some tips on places to avoid (hostess bars). After a half hour train ride and some time searching around I found the apartment. Well, I was the only one to show up because nobody else got the nice map I did. So I hung out with two Canadians and an Aussie. On the way home there were three schoolboys arguing over who had to sit next to the gaijin on the train. I was nice and pretended I didn`t hear them or understand. Everyone else is very nice here.
The alarm clock I brought from Canada was set for 60Hz electricity. How this works is the clock counts 60 power cycles and then advances time by 1 second. Japan electricity is 50Hz, so my clock was slow. I wanted to wake up at 7:30 to wait for my bags, but actually woke up closer to 10:00.
When I told Seiko that I was going to meet up with other teachers and go to a bar she got very worried. The area where the other teachers lived was slightly seedy, and most of the places in the area were hostess bars. I am sure that many unsuspecting teachers have ended up in a bar where suddenly beautiful women are pouring their drinks and they end up with a huge bill at the end of the night.
The three high school students arguing over who had to sit next to the gaijin was my first, but not my last experience where people openly treated me differently because I was not Japanese. I learned that many people didn’t expect the gaijins to understand Japanese, and it is usually pretty fun to surprise them.