Today was shopping day! I headed down to Ginza to check out the shopping heaven of Tokyo. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and it was just a pleasure to be out and about.
This is where the flagship stores of Muji and Uniqlo are located. The former is at least moderate in its hugeness, but Uniqlo occupies a massive 12-storey building that exhausted me just by getting to the men’s section. As in other Uniqlo stores around the world, the clothes are… very Japanese. I tried a couple of things, and nothing fit. Like the H&M in Stockholm, it’s all just cut for different proportions!
Luckily for me, I had come down to Ginza extremely well recommended. Kazuyo had advised me to check out Loft, a huuuge store selling everything from travel accessories to cooking utensils and more crazy Japanese phone accessories than you can shake a stick at. That was great, but what really engrossed me was a section they had at the entrance with stuff featuring what looked like a rotating set of licensed artists, each one lending their own distinct illustrations to all kinds of badges, postcards, stationery, accessories… Some were very manga-inspired, while others were more reminiscent of watercolours. So interesting!
I was also told by Sawako that I needed to see Kyukyodo, a traditional Japanese stationery/crafts shop right on the Ginza crossing. I don’t know how much time I spent in this small two-floor boutique, but I could have spent twice as much if I hadn’t been so exhausted by now. All kinds of writing paper, writing implements, origami supplies, gift envelopes, greeting cards, various items featuring Japase fabric (I got a beautiful set of coasters for myself)… A must-see! By contrast, the stores recommended by my guidebook were a total letdown.
Today also continued the trend of there being so few foreigners around that when we run into each other there’s a reaction. First, one American asked me for directions, and later on another one did the opposite and offered to help me out. (I was very obviously trying to make sense of where I was on my map.) A first on this trip: later on the tube, a Japanese asked if I needed help. That has never happened before, no matter how utterly lost I’ve been! So nice!
I had lunch at what I think is Ginza Bairin, a tonkatsu place recommended by El País in one of its travel articles. I had resigned myself to the idea that I would never be able to find it when I miraculously found myself on its doorstep. It’s a great, affordable tonkatsu place hidden behind dark glass doors. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t looking for it. The whole kitchen is arranged along the counter, so I had a very amusing lunch sipping tea and nibbling on my katsudon while I observed the chefs cook: there was the man who breaded, the man who fried, the man who sliced… A great little restaurant.