10 September 2008

zomg tokyo! day 4

Day 4 (9 September)
Having thoroughly exhausted ourselves via travel and walking over the past three (or four, depending on how you count) days, we decided to take it easy. Now some might associate taking it easy with staying lounging around the hotel, perhaps visiting the spa, or even relaxing in a Japanese garden. We went shopping in Ginza, a mere 3 subway stops away.

We arrived about 1035, which is the perfect time to discover that most of the shops open at 1100. How convenient. So we wandered the street with the intention of killing time, until we happened upon a tiny go shop. The game boards were rather impressive and heavy pieces of wood, with impressively heavy price tags to match. After a about a minute, we continued on to Itoya, a paper and pen shop, which Matt will now tell you all about.

Itoya, like most stores in Ginza and elsewhere in Tokyo, is a rather vertical affair. The store is comprised of nine floors, from B1 (floors below the first floor are prefixed with the letter B) to 8, which contain every product imaginable that are made of paper or otherwise relate to paper -- from 200 yen notepads to million yen pens and everything in between. Sharon and I spent a good deal of time looking at various photo albums, focusing on ones that are more indicative of the area as oppose to American and European imports that are designed similarly. Ultimately, we decided to reflect further on how many photo albums we needed before buying any. We did end up leaving with some small items -- a couple of notepads made to be used as mouse pads and a circular slide rule.

After quickly doubling back to the neighboring Tiffany's that turned out to be small and uninteresting, we continued on to Matsuya Ginza, an extremely large department store taking up about half of a square city block. While all the olfactory products on the first floor were mercifully easy on my nose, the intensity of the florescent light made me want to leave my sunglasses on. After finding an English version of the store guide, Sharon immediately honed in to the shoe department on the third floor. Unfortunately, the one pair of boots she really liked were unfortunately too wide at the heel, which makes more sense when you consider that they were European imports.

After traversing a couple more floors, we decided it was time for lunch and to sample the department store's selection of cuisine. Unlike department stores in the States, the ones here take the same approach to food, groceries, and pharmaceuticals as they do to high fashion. After browsing the available choices and listening to the melody of our stomachs kindly requesting alimentary material, we reluctantly chose a Japanese take on cheap Italian food, which was likely about as good as an Italian take on Japanese food would be.

Since the restaurants were on the topmost floor, we decided to work our way down the remaining floors via the rooftop driving range that turned out not to be generally available for use. On the sixth floor, the last one we had to visit, turned out to be most worthwhile. We discovered a display of beautiful glass crafted by Kitajima Masako. After debating a few choices, Sharon and I finally decided on (in relatively quick fashion for us) on a clear vase with blood red decoration that has a wonderfully distinctive look. Additionally, at the neighboring golf department, we purchased some humorous golf accessories. Once we collected our consumption tax refund on the goods we had acquired in the store, we left the labyrinthine building, duly crossing off all other department stores off of our list of places to visit for the day.

And now back to our intrepid reporter!

So there we were, both appalled at the amount of time we spent in Matsuya Ginza and the thought of going into another one. We wandered the area, window shopping past uniteresting stores and ducking into the more promising ones. There are quite a few small camera shops that fall into the latter category, all of which offer antique film cameras and incredibly outdated digital ones on the same shelves as modern equipment. Without exception, the windows showcase an awe-inspiring array of lenses.

A rather long trek to Hakuhinkan Toy Park was in the cards. Specifically the playing cards. We chose three decks, including one made by Nintendo. For those unaware, the video game company that we all know and love was founded in the mid 1800s as a playing card company. On the top floor we discovered a larger than life slot car track for those serious about the hobby. If you don't bring your own car, you don't race. The track was monopolized by a large group of businessmen, making us the youngest people in the arena.

Ginza Washington, which occupies B1 and B2 of UNIQLO, is touted as one of Tokyo's largest shoe stores. My first thought was, "Where on earth did they hide the rest of it?" They did have an interesting selection, but nothing that piqued my interest. Upstairs we went, where floors 1F through 5F (most stores suffix the above ground numbers with F) held more promise. I found a few notable t-shirts, but nothing worth exerting the effort the purchase. Similarly, Matt liked a sweatshirtish jacket that just didn't look quite right on him, so we left empty handed.

Our last scheduled stop was the Sony Building, which promised us floors of wonder. All we got was a closed sign. After a few choice words, we headed back to base.

And that's the way the cookie crumbles.


dreamerj25 said...

Very nice! It sounds like you're both having a good time on vacation! =)

osmodion said...

That's generally the idea! :-p

Now if only the food came in bigger portions, we'd never come home.