[Photo looking toward the main shops across the road from I-House]
Howdy People! This post will describe my first experiences shopping in the area around I-House and describe the type of stores which are in the immediate area.
The days following our arrival in Japan we spent pretty much no time at home; going from shop to shop and picking up all sorts of necessary and unnecessary goods. The first port of call was, again, the supermarket. The supermarket was a similar size to the stores in Palmerston North and set out in a similar manner; but the food was, naturally, quite different. Bread was split into two sections; one for normal, packed bread items and an actually bakery style fresh baked bread section and was way smaller than our sections but essentially the same. Bread however comes in 10 slice packs, for sandwich slice, instead of loaves and was significantly more expensive than in New Zealand at around $1.50 per pack. Rice on the other hand, as one might expect, has an entire isle and has pictures explaining where in Japan the rice was grown. One section that was massively bigger than in New Zealand was instant noodles/ramen; which consisted of two isles with a massive selection of flavors, including Chilli which is what I stocked up on. The meat and veg sections were very similar to our supermarkets as well, but prices vary wildly depending on what you buy. Mince was a little more pricy than New Zealand, steak and chops were far more expensive but chicken and fish are much, much cheaper; with a 350g chicken breast costing as little as $2. Another interesting section is pre-cooked/prepared food; with a large selection of bento boxes, karaage (fried chicken balls) and onigiri. The most significant difference between New Zealand supermarkets and Japanese ones was more flavors then it is actual stuff; lots more seafood, green tea and wasabi flavor stuff as well as strange combinations such as chocolate potato chips. In the end I nabbed a few carrots, spring onions, bean sprouts, chicken breasts and ramen. Our senpais, the students who had been in I-House from last semester, were extremely helpful in helping us find stuff and explain what they each liked from the supermarket.
Our second stop was Edion; an electronics store. Most of us nabbed power converters and general electrical conversion stuff from here; though I had prepared it all before I came, so I opted to check out other parts of the store. Towards the back of the store was a door leading into a video game, anime and statue shop; which I spent a good hour checking out and ended up buying an entire box of Monster Hunter figurines to decorate my barren looking room as well as picking up a Japanese 3DS charger. A few things that immediately stuck out was the there are tonnes of games I had never seen before; in particular there was a number of RPG looking games and rhythm games. Handheld consoles were also super, super cheap; costing around 13,000 Yen, which is roughly $170 New Zealand for both the Vita and 3DS systems. Also, there were almost no Xbox games in the entire store, with the PlayStation and Nintendo sections dominating almost the entire game section. I will probably do a more detailed breakdown of a Japanese video game store later in my blog.
Our third port of call was Daiso; the Japanese equivalent of a $2 shop on steroids. The vast majority of the store had no prices and was all priced at 100 yen. This included a surprising number of things; such as batteries, towels, candy, drinks etc. Many of us ended up picking up most of the things we needed for our rooms, such as towels, clothes baskets, cleaning sprays etc, really cheap. There are actually two Daisos within 30 min walk from I-House and tonnes more pretty much everywhere you go.
The last stop, which only a few of us ended up going to, was Treasure Bomb; a secondhand/hobby store. The store dedicated half the store to models, figurines and collectables and the other half to clothes, jewelery and general items. There were quite a few awesome looking statues and collectables I would have liked; but I ended up grabbing a couple of Monster Hunter figurines, similar to the ones I got and Edion, and settling for that; as I didn’t want to destroy my wallet too much on the first day. There are number of other places around I-House, particularly restaurants which will be another post, I have visited since I got here; but these are the major ones.