Category Archives: SHOPPING

Shotengai: Exploring the Nostalgic Pulse of Japan’s Local Shopping Streets

Source: Gaijin Pot
Selling food in a shotengai in Japan

On my last trip to Japan, I queued with my friends Yoshie and Tatsu at Toridai, a decades-old food store in the Jujo Ginza shotengai (shopping street) in northern Tokyo. There’s always a line at Toridai. It’s a beloved neighborhood institution selling takeaway fare, including famously delicious and cheap chicken meatballs for just ¥10 a piece.

So, why did standing in line for 15 minutes at a timeworn suburban delicatessen that was part of this old-school shopping street become one of my holiday highlights?

From the kinetic crush at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing to the selfie stick chaos at Kyoto’s Kinkakuji Temple — I actually don’t mind the festive, frenzied energy of tourist crowds. I also love ticking off Japan’s impressive bucket list of iconic sights. Yet over six visits, I’ve discovered an equally captivating side to Japan in its everyday streetscapes. They’re starkly different to those in Australia (my home country).

That’s why when Yoshie and Tatsu, born-and-bred Tokyoites in their 60s, offered to show me around, I said, “Take me to your favorite local shotengai!”

The winding charms of Japan’s shopping streets

Tatsu was born in Jujo, a lively, working-class neighborhood in Tokyo’s Kita ward. Kita was a collection of rural villages and towns until the 1880s when it was connected by rail to central Tokyo.

Tatsu lived in Jujo for 31 years, just five minutes’ walk from Jujo Ginza. When he was a child, it was unpaved, unroofed and lined with wooden shops. The dirt road turned to mud in the rain.

My friends Tatsu and Yoshie.

We strolled past Taisho era buildings from the 1920s, bought tea in a quaint establishment from the 1950s and sipped drinks in a cafe with a somewhat dated 1980s vibe. All the while, I …continue reading


Snuggle up to the most handsome gorilla on the planet with the Shabani Arm Pillow

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

Anyone with an Instagram or YouTube account can become a celebrity these days. And sometimes you don’t even need to be human.

In fact, Japan has something of a tradition of turning animals into famous pop culture figures. This is especially the case with cats, such as Maru the YouTube sensation or Tama the station master.

Somewhat further up the food chain is Shabani: a photogenic Western lowland gorilla who resides in Higashiyama Zoo, Nagoya, Shabani became well known in around 2015 when people (especially women) started to notice how handsome he is — and how human he seemed with his good looks. The “metrosexual” gorilla has since spawned a veritable industry of merchandise and tie-in products.

The latest, and probably the most innovative so far, is this Shabani Gorilla Arm Pillow.

Snuggle up to the hunkiest primate on the planet with this pillow, a soft and comfortable cushion for resting your head and neck on Shabani’s strong arm. Shabani’s other arm, meanwhile, will hold your phone for you, since you will definitely need to set your alarm in order to wake up from the deep slumber you can enjoy each night with Shabani lying protectively by your side.

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

shabani gorilla pillow arm cushion japan handsome

Shabani actually already has a couple of female mates but we reckon there’s room in his troop for a few more ladies. Do you want to join?

The Shabani Gorilla Arm Pillow is available now from Japan Trend Shop.

…continue reading


How to Bargain in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot

As a general rule, bargaining is not the “done thing” in Japan. Countless plucky tourists have received nothing but blank stares as they try to negotiate with the staff of even the biggest companies.

However, this can lead to the false impression that bargaining never happens. Especially in my adopted hometown of Osaka, bargaining is actually pretty common —if you know how to do it in a Japanese way. The Osaka おばちゃん (elderly ladies) are so deft at striking a bargain that they have become (in)famous in other prefectures. It is said that no major piece of electrical equipment is ever sold without a bargain being done in Kansai.

It is said that no major piece of electrical equipment is ever sold without a bargain being done in Kansai.

So how do they do it?

Know where to bargain

One way is to know the types of places that will be more open to bargaining. At flea markets or specialist stores, it may actually be unusual not to bargain! One easy solution for these smaller stores is to try and get a discount for cash, saving both parties from credit card fees.

Next time you’re out shopping, try 現金( genkin )で払( hara)うと安( yasuku )くなりますか (Could I get a discount if I pay in cash?).

Another phrase that learners should endeavor to remember is the (少( suko)し)安くなりませんか phrase. This is a somewhat indirect way to ask for something to be made a little cheaper. You will also hear the similar まけてくれませんか used for the same purpose.

More intermediate learners should learn the word 値引( nebi)き (a price cut) such as in the question 値引きしてもらえませんか (Could you give me a price cut?). Those that prefer to negotiate more directly may also want to try どのぐらいなら値引きできますか (How much of a price cut can you give for this?).

Check for product flaws

If …continue reading


After-Dark Hangs at Tokyo’s First Regular Night Market

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

Anyone who’s experienced a Tokyo summer knows after dark is the best time to explore the city. Once the sun has retreated, and the concrete has cooled down, comfortably warm summer evenings feel long and full of endless possibilities. Even more so now thanks to the arrival of the first regular Tokyo night market.
The Night Market was created by the team behind the Farmer’s Market and the outdoor food truck and bar hangout Commune 2nd—a Tokyo Cheapo favorite—both located in Aoyama.
For the past decade, the Farmer’s Market has been supplying conscientious shoppers of Tokyo with incredible food, fresh local produce, artisanal wares, and vintage goods. But more than that, it has become a community hangou

The post After-Dark Hangs at Tokyo’s First Regular Night Market appeared first on Tokyo Cheapo.

…continue reading


17 Tokyo Flea Markets for Bargain Hunting

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

A cheapo’s paradise, Tokyo flea markets are awesome places for bargain-hunting. And there’s no shortage of them—you’ll find something happening in one of the parks or parking lots just about every Saturday and Sunday, as well as some public holidays, throughout the year.
You can fork out wads of cash for fancy souvenirs at soulless stores, or you can riffle through the stalls at one of these flea markets and find all sorts of awesome (and original) things for a fraction of the price. Keen on a previously loved kimono for just ¥1,000? How about an antique tea ceremony bowl? Secondhand fashion (still seasons ahead of much of the rest of the world) for a few hundred yen? You can also find CDs and DVDs, books, vinyls, coffee pre

The post 17 Tokyo Flea Markets for Bargain Hunting appeared first on Tokyo Cheapo.

…continue reading