So, Friday on our Tokyo trip was going to be shopping. G and M headed off to Akihabara, and I went to Nippori, aka fabric town. I noticed when I got off the train that there seemed to be a lot of shopping ladies heading the same direction, more than we have seen on previous visits. I had a plan. There is one Main Street with the shops, with a few scattered on side streets. There is a map showing where shops are. I was going to do one side of the street, then come back on the other. Super logical. I would also try to go to the side street shops, as we don’t often visit them. It started well, and I was being quite disciplined. Mostly notions, trimmings and useful pieces, rather than fabric.
While I was walking along, I spotted a huuuuge queue outside Tomato. Tomato is a well known fabric shop, having several buildings in the area, the queue was outside the main one.
But I ignored it, tomato was in my plans for later. I was doing well, then I ventured into a cute shop with embroidered ribbon trims and cute kits. I bought something, then the shop lady asked me if I had been to Tomato. No, but planning to. She whipped out a flyer, Tomato was celebrating its 30th birthday by taking 30%off everything.
So, I walked the rest of the street, was making good time and thinking about my plans for after Nippori, when I made my fatal mistake. I went into tomato. I didn’t go to the first floor, I went up, to the floor with Japanese fabrics. I chose a couple, plus some off cut bundles and joined the queue. Each floor had a separate queue, for the cutting, then another (much shorter) queue for paying. The queue snaked the length of the floor and snaked back. It was very slow moving and people in the queue it grabbing new bolts as they went. The people in front of me had a cart with 4 bolts of fabric when I joined, as I moved, the three (each a separate customer) added at least 12 bolts, to much discussion of how cute it was. Then one, as we approached the cutting table changed her mind and swapped about half of them out for new ones. But they were not the worst. The worst was that one of the three cutters was occupied for about 40 minutes cutting fabric for one woman and her son (who kept bringing new bolts), so the queue was super slow. And then bonus! She finished just as I was having fabric cut, so not only did she extend my cutting wait, the adding up of her fabric delayed my paying queue too. She spent over $400, even with the discount! Basically I spent an hour in the queue and was starving when I finished. So I left Nippori, and headed to Ueno, where I had a very nice lunch set at a place that seemed to be all about fresh and local produce. I had a tuna Katsu, which was a tuna steak schnitzel, with salad and rice. Yum
I then headed off to the other side of Tokyo, to a more suburban area, for some more crafty shopping. I went there last time we were in Tokyo, two years ago, but I didn’t see much. So it was raining when I got there, pretty heavily. I avoided the rain and went into the shop development next to the station. It had a craft shop I hadn’t visited, as well as some other nice shops. I bought what I wanted, looked around and was heading down when there was a crash of thunder and all the lights went out. The escalator I was on stopped. People screamed. I walked down, and then the lights came on, but the escalators didn’t start.
It was bucketing down outside, with lightning around.
But I wanted to go to some other stores so I went back through the station and to another department store. All under cover. That department store also had the escalators off, so I climbed up the stairs. I had been there before and there were two stores I wanted to visit and a third that was interesting. None of them was where I remembered. I re consulted my craft guide. Definitely the right floor. So I went down to information and asked about one shop. It had moved outside. She gave me directions (which I completely got wrong). And it had stopped raining so I went looking. I found another one, but not the one I wanted. And then I used google maps and it worked! This is unusual for me in japan. So I got the store I wanted, and bought a few things.
I was still disappointed about the other store, but I headed back to the department store for a restorative afternoon tea. At a cafe called afternoon tea. It was lovely, and then, as I was leaving, I noticed that the shop on the other side of the walkway was the one I was looking for! Yay!
Japanese department stores are not the same as western ones- each area is essentially its own shop- you cannot take an item from one area and pay in another. Sometimes they have their own bags, sometimes they will use the larger department store logo bag (and the logoed bags are very important)
Then I ended back to Shibuya to meet G and M and we went to the baseball. Summer school vacation had started by this point, and the stadium we went to is quite small, so we were a little concerned about the availability of seats. We went to a Yakult Swallows game at their home stain of Meiji Jingu. It’s an old stadium. We buy tickets for the outfield (cheap seats) where the fan club is. It was packed, full of families with little kids. Baseball is different in Japan- the fan clubs have a little band that plays on trumpets, there are specific fan routines (with the swallows it is umbrellas) and the beer girls with kegs On their back.
There were also cheerleaders, and around the sixth inning, a fireworks display! The mascot came out with a mat and they were the family watching fireworks on the grass. The swallows won, and there were at least three home run hits into the stands.
I highly recommend a baseball game to anyone visiting Japan, but check out the various teams- ticket prices vary. We were able to walk up and buy tickets on the day for under $20 each. By contrast, there is a company that buys tickets for tourists and delivers them to hotels with a service charge of $60. More than we paid for our tickets, although it may depend on where you want to sit and what teams.