Saturday, 5 July 2014

Introductory shopping

Having slept a little bit, the pressing need for food overcame me and I went out shopping.

I end up doing some googling in an effort to find out where useful shops might be: supermarkets, grocers, 100-yen shops (pound shops) and so on, as well as looking out for places likely to stock some outlandish goods like brown flour or cheese (although I won't be eating much of that here, from what I know of the prices). Getting actual locations for most things is a bit of a pain, but I get a picture - there are lots of these things one or two districts over, but very little in the district I'm actually in. What I can't work out, then, is what there actually is in this district. Research continues.

I spent a good ten minutes searching for rice in the local mini-market, baffled by the apparent dearth of the stuff in Japan. Eventually I worked out that there's a separate Rice Corner right next to the tills for some reason. Then I realised there are many varieties and I can't tell them apart, so I bought noodles and went home to research. Equipped with greater knowledge, I headed out into the main shopping district the next day.

Three hours in the bustling Tenjin shopping centre netted me three new shirts (I didn't bring many due to space), an array of household goods inexplicably absent from the flat, and some food. I was a bit surprised to find that the supermarket isn't a cheap option for, well, just about anything to be honest. It also didn't have the range of stuff I was hoping for despite its size and location, so no wholemeal flour for me, nor any cheddar. As such I picked up a loaf of bread and some jam, but that's about all. Most of the bread comes as about five slices of something resembling brioche, as bread seems to be treated like cake in Japan, but I did find a couple of French breads and grabbed one. White bread, to be sure, but at least it's savoury.

In the morning I'd been for a wander and found a sort of metro-market place called Sunny. Taking painstaking notes in my little red book, I realised that it's actually the cheapest place I've found so far - possibly an Aldi equivalent? I suspect from quick research that it's connected to Walmart, which would explain something. Anyway, they were able to provide a lot of staples like brown rice and even All-Bran, which I was very glad of. It seems that getting fibre will be an uphill struggle around here.

Today (Saturday) I suddenly realised that a bag of stuff was missing. I must've left it somewhere, which was a huge pain as it contained my new toiletries, which are both relatively expensive and vital to not being a smelly pest. I spent a while kicking myself before heading out to the station to try out my "lost property" routine, which I'd helpfully learned from Naoko-sensei just before leaving Oxford. The railway service lost property is amazing: they have pictures of all lost property with inventory lists. Naturally they didn't show me these, that'd invite fraud, but I could spot them on the screen they were looking at. Receiving apologies and shrugs on that score, I decided to spend the morning wandering back towards Tenjin (a couple of miles) to scope out the town on foot and have a long-shot ask at the stores I'd visited.

To my delight, when going off on a tangent because somewhere looked interesting, I stumbled across a second-hand bookshop, where I was able to buy a map of the town for a mere Y100. Admittedly it only covers the town centre, so not the area where I actually live, but it's still handy and allowed me to find my way back to Tenjin without asking for directions, which helped my pride. To my further delight, it turned out that I had indeed left my purchases on the counter, probably distracted by the obligatory bowing rituals, so I got my stuff back! I celebrated by getting the train home.

And then I promptly fell asleep, again, because I've been getting a few hours' sleep a night so far due to the noise. Of which more later.


  1. Lacking fibre in Japanese cuisine is one of cause to its high occurrence of gastrointestinal cancers, I once read. No cheddar cheese, how surprising is that?! I think they might have American cheese which is NOT cheese.
    I was frustrated to know that you lost one bag of toiletries and soon was relived to find out if managed to reclaim it…the station’s lost property services were impressive indeed!
    Wow, you discovered cheaper places to shop and I am sure you can budget reasonably well from now on perhaps, you can find a part-time job in the future to partially cover your expenditures.

    1. Huh, I didn't know that. Interesting. I read that the introduction of white rice led to a lot of problems with rickets, though.

      I'm actually not allowed to work here, I'd need a better visa. Honestly though, I feel like studying and feeding myself is enough of a challenge without having a job. Time enough for that when I come back!

    2. yup, totally understand. of course, your priority right now is to get homework done nicely, pass all exams, know more locals and make more bentos:)