Since it is usually my annoying habit to write extremely epic and long-winded updates, I thought I’d give everyone a break (myself included, though I haven’t written a real entry for few weeks now… combination of busy-ness and laziness [more often the latter]), and post a primarily picture update. And what better subject to cover in a picture update than one of Japan’s favorite national pastimes… you guessed it: SHOPPING!
A couple weekends ago, a friend and I decided to hit up OPA, a shopping mall in the heart of Kokusai-Dori, to blow a smidgen of our most recent paychecks. We weren’t sure what to expect upon entering the glowing neon-lettered building; what we found was six stories of trendy, SPENDY shops, though fortunately many had decently priced items on sale (I’ll admit I purchased my fair share).
As with the majority of things, I find shopping in Japan to be at times a strange experience.
We began our shopping here, at “Used” Clothing Store Wego.
(There were no used clothes in this store. As far as I know, it’s a chain that carries perfectly new threads. I bought a cute top on sale here.)
Inside the fitting room was one of these, which I’ve gotten used to seeing when I try things on, but of which I am still not entirely sure what it is there for:
My googling informs me that this piece of fabric may be situated in fitting rooms so that it can be placed over one’s face as an article of clothing is pulled over the head (so as not to stain it). Although this makes about half sense, there’s the other nonsensical part of it where, unless the scarf is replaced after every customer leaves the fitting room (which I highly doubt), isn’t it sort of… used? It’s a strange concept, similar to the way I feel about the slippers they have for people to change into before entering rooms with wooden floors or bathrooms. I understand the purpose for them being there, but I don’t quite get how people deal with the germy-ness factor (some of those slippers are in nasty condition, and who knows how many randoms have placed their smelly feet in them!). I’m still trying to figure out this country’s stance on germs, where during flu season about 75% of the people you come across are wearing face masks all day… yet handsoap is often nonexistent in public restrooms? Wakarimasen.
A few takes on Japanese fashion…
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling indeed.
Miniature hats with pins on the inside so you can pin the hat to your head (like a clip) and have it be… a miniature hat on your head. Kind of silly. But Japan loves itty bitty things, and this trend appears to be no exception.
So far, I’ve rarely heard clothing here described as “hot” or “sexy.” It’s always kawaii. Everything is kawaii. Kawaii is good. Not sure if the photo above does kawaii justice, but if you look at even just the back of the girl working there (in the hat), you get a taste of what’s hot–I mean, in–in Japan. I might describe it as “little-girl-clothes meets floral meets petticoat.” It’s a mighty popular look here that I’m not sure I’ll ever fully adopt.
THIS one was weird for me:
We got to the top of the mall and there in front of us stood Tower Records, in all of its familiar red and yellow glory. I had no idea they still existed anywhere! Apparently, while all of the U.S. stores shut down following the company’s bankruptcy in 2004, many locations abroad were completely independent and thus not affected. I still remember, though, when Columbus Tower in SF closed down a few years ago and everyone was heartbroken. All they needed to do was move to Okinawa!
My new favorite store:
This one isn’t in OPA, but fortunately UNIQLO has two locations in Naha for me to choose from. Affordable basic and classic pieces, including jeans, which they hem for you for free! Just put them on, say “katto” to the fitting room attendant who pins one of the pant legs to your liking, purchase them, and come back in usually less than an hour for the perfect-length jeans! As long as I’m here, I will never pay to get my pants altered ever again.
Lastly, more Engrish, for you :)
Ok, I swear I’ve been doing more than just shopping here. I’ll give a more substantial update soon. Though you probably prefer the pictures to my waxing on and on and on…