I recently returned from an extended trip to Japan. I was there to visit my wife’s family and do a little research for writing projects that will—hopefully, eventually—see the light of day.
This was my second trip since living there circa 2003, and I was reminded of the many things that make the country such a great place. Here’s a couple that stand out.
1. The biggest hobby shop in the world (it must be)
I don’t know for certain if the above statement is true, but the flagship store of Tokyu Hands (in Shibuya, Tokyo) is eye-poppingly large. I generally think of a decent craft supply or hobby shop as having one, maybe two floors (if you’re lucky).
Tokyu Hands in Shibuya has not 2; not 5; not 10; but twenty-four floors of hobby and craft supplies (housed in a triangle of three linked buildings, eight floors each). Not only does it boast its own wood, leather and bicycle workshops, but there’s a whole floor entirely devoted to “Science Lab Supplies.” Check out the floor plan:
2. A zillion different Kit-Kats (or maybe less than a zillion, but still a lot)
If I were pressed, I would have to say my favourite thing about Japan is probably the food. The country has incredibly diverse regional cuisines. Nowhere is this more evident than in all the Kit-Kats.
I used to think there was one basic kind of Kit-Kat: the lowly chocolate. In a pinch, I might hope to find the comparatively uninspired “white-chocolate” or “dark-chocolate” versions. Not so in Japan.
At any given moment there’s at least twelve different flavours available, sometimes as many as twenty. These are limited edition confections that change from season to season and town to town. Green tea, cinnamon, corn-on-the-cob, toasted red-bean sandwich, pear, cherry blossom, salted watermelon, wine, lemon cheesecake—all totally legit and surprisingly delish—among many others. Here’s a few I brought back for sharing: