I have been in Japan for a little over three weeks now and with school in full swing, I have come to two realizations:
- I cannot keep going to restaurants every day for lunch and/or dinner. It makes my wallet (not to mention my bank account) very sad. (T_T)
- I cannot live on onigiri and other convenience store food as a means to cut my spending costs on food. It makes my stomach very sad. (T_T)
In an effort to please both my wallet and stomach simultaneously, I decided that it was time to explore the neighborhood and I am very glad that I did. Within walking distance from the Kitazono Women’s’ Dorm (my home for the next 3-4 months,) I found my three new best friends:
Cando 100 Yen Shop （キャンドゥ 100円ショップ）
Kaldi Coffee Farm
Life Supermarket （ライフ）
Cando 100 Yen Shop—First and foremost, allow me to make this declaration: THE 100 YEN SHOP IS YOUR BEST FRIEND! Now that that is over and done with, allow me to elaborate a bit. When I first arrived at the dorm, there were things in the room already: hangers in the closet, a cooking pan, pot, three plates, one set of eating utensils, and other things that would last me for about 1-2 weeks. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about after that? What about some food to fill the empty refrigerator? What about some dish detergent to wash those plates, the pot and the cooking pan? And most importantly, what about more toilet paper? The answer came in the form of a local dollar store called Cando 100yen Shop. For those in the US, when someone mentions a typical dollar store, what usually comes to mind? Cheap? Dirty? Low-quality goods? Lazy employees? Well, let me assure you that in Japan you could not be further from the truth. Cando (and other 100 yen shops for that matter) are the definition of what a dollar store should be. School supplies and other stationary, cooking and cleaning supplies (hello bento boxes), toiletries, health and beauty supplies, spices, snacks, animal and plant care products, Cando has them all at a low price. The employees are so nice and the store is incredibly well-kept. Since it’s on the second floor, when you go to Cando, you also have the convenience of having Yoshiya SainE, a fresh food market, on the first floor. Question: How many dollar stores have this? Answer: Not many. Several of the female study abroad students and I have made Cando a go-to for the necessities.
Kaldi Coffee Farm—I’m not a coffee person so when I first came across Kaldi Coffee Farm, I didn’t even think about going in. However, don’t let the name fool you. While the first thing you smell is coffee, venture further into the store and you will find a little slice of home. As Spanish music fills your ears, you’ll find that one half of the store is dedicated to coffee and all of its forms (beans, iced, etc) while the rest is occupied by foreign goods; everything from Combos to peanut butter, Honey Bunches of Oats to pure maple syrup. Yes, they are a little on the pricey side, but I think it would be nice for the days where I feel homesick and need a little reminder of home.
Life Supermarket—This is the store closest to the Kitazono Women’s Dorm and I was in love when I walked in. If you enter through the main entrance, you are greeted by the pleasant smell of the bakery. Right across from the bakery is the produce section with as many fruits and vegetables as your heart could want. Towards the back of the store you can find the fresh fish and meat section. I have found that meat and fish are cheaper at night than they are in the day so I make it a habit to go meat and fish shopping at night rather than the day. They also have their own delicatessens section towards the far end of the store, where there have prepared meals, onigiri, sushi, tempura, desserts, etc. The second floor is occupied by a large general store that carries stationary, pet care items, household items, etc. I love to cook and now that I know what Life has to offer (yes, lame pun intended,) I have a feeling that I will find myself going there in my pajamas quite a lot in the future.