Monkeying Around in Japan
December 11, 2006
Today we took my brother to Bamiyan for Japanese-style Chinese food. Bamiyan is one of my favorite restaurants and is a popular chain here. Bro became a fan of the food just as we are. After lunch, we headed to Garage-Off, a store I’d passed a few times and thought he’d like. It’s full of car tuner stuff that’s been recycled from other people who no longer wanted it. The store calls it “eco-friendly” car goods.
Next we drove to Babies-R-Us so I could buy some more portable potty bags for the little folding toilet I bought for my preschooler. That thing is so cool. I can’t believe I’ve never seen them in American stores. The potty is called the Potette, and it folds flat when not in use for easy storage. When needed, however, the feet fold down and you insert a plastic bag into the seat to serve as the “pot”. The bag has an absorption pad in the bottom of it, which absorbs all of the liquid making it neat and easy to use. Since driving time here in Tokyo can be so very long, and bathrooms are not always easy to find or easy to gain access to, the Potette allows us to stop anywhere and let our preschooler go potty. It’s a wonderful invention that I think EVERY parent would love to have — because you know how little ones are, when they have to go, they HAVE to go.
Ok, I just found this potty available all over the internet, so maybe it’s a relatively new product that I just had never seen before. Either way, it’s saved us from many disasters.
After Babies-R-Us, we went just down the street to Costco to check out the Christmas decorations and the other American-style things. It was interesting to see that many of the decorations were big, bold and beautiful, but seemed to me to be inexpensive. Things that I thought were cool, were very inexpensive compared to what something similar would cost in the US. However, things that were no big deal to me, like a bag of Hershey’s Miniature candy bars, was outrageously expensive. I guess the things we, as Americans, think are cool, are very different from what Japanese find cool and desirable. We picked up a box of 10 GIANT ornaments to use to decorate outside the house for around $10. Also, we got a couple of boxes of lights since we hadn’t brought ours with us from home. At check-out, we were astounded by the masses of people who were eating in the Costco food area. Each one parked their cart of merchandise in orderly rows as they ate their food. No one worried about things being stolen. We were witness to the best in human behavior. My pictures came out a little dark or blurry because I was trying to be discreet with my camera, but still, I’ll share them here just so you can see what I mean about neat and tidy rows. It looks like one of the cafe workers might have been watching me take these few photos, or they were just staring at us because we were a big family of foreigners — likely both. “Why are these foreigners taking pictures of people eating in the Costco food court? Nande?”
Hours had passed since our early lunch and we found ourselves just across the street from Red Lobster. My brother and I had laughed earlier in the day at one of the maps provided by the Camp Zama Recreation office. The maps are usually made by Japanese employees, and the map to Costco read, “Cost-O-Co” with a landmark titled “Red Robster” across the street. My bro thought we were kidding when we told him about the confusion between “Ls” and “Rs” I recently was told about a site that publishes photos of all of the outrageous English that people find all over the world. Check it out at www.engrish.com.
For dinner we had shrimp and lobster pizza on a pastry puff crust. So yummy!
One thing that is pure joy for kids when you go to restaurants in Japan is the fact that the restaurants always provide a basket of kids’ toys from which kids can choose any toy of their choice. Instead of crayons and coloring pages like in the US, Japanese restaurants give toys my kids just love. Usually these are little plastic toys, mini drawing sets, toy jewelry or hair ties and the like. At Red Lobster they provide a basket of these cute mini erasers that come in all kinds of shapes from strawberries, to teddy bears to little lobsters. My kids LOVE toy baskets!
Finally, after dinner, we made our last stop of the evening at one of my favorite stores, Cainz. I consider Cainz to be probably the closest thing to a Walmart here in Japan. Giant “everything-stores” like Walmart don’t really exist here to the degree they do in my hometown. Japan suburbs are filled with corner shops, mom-and-pop establishments, little Ramen or Soba noodle joints, and convenience stores, so a big store like Cainz seems to really stand out here. I love this store because it has literally everything: garden supplies, tatami mats, office supplies, clocks, Christmas and New Year decorations, storage solutions, cool electronic toilet seats, tools, shoes, umbrellas, lights, pet supplies, puppies, kittens, baby ducks, giant black Japanese beetles, baby rabbits, fish, birds, turtles, snakes, bats and monkeys.
Yes, that is correct. For 45,000 Yen, or about $400+ dollars, you can purchase a BAT! Or, if you prefer, for 450,000 Yen, or about $4000 dollars, you can purchase your very own pet monkey!!! This seems like a bargain when you compare it to the kitten for sale at about $1000 and the puppies for sale anywhere from $998.00 to over $2000.00. Did anyone else ever want to have a pet monkey when you were a kid? I always thought it would be AWESOME to have a pet monkey when I was a child. Maybe it was due to watching all those episodes of “BJ and the Bear.”
However, in reality, it was rather sad to see this little monkey’s adorable face peering with curiosity out of its way-too-small cage. Sad. Kanashi. But — it had to truly be the most amazing, outrageous display of pets for sale that I have ever seen! Yeah, Cainz rocks!