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Tuesday, November 7

The Yen Stuff Adds Up

Bolstered by the success of my earlier expedition in the week, I decided it would be a good time to attempt a second mission to the big city last Thursday. This time to the 100 Yen Shop I have heard such wonderful things about. Five glorious stories of products that roughly cost one American dollar. Those who show similar problems with reckless abandonment in shopping as I do would probably refer to this place as heaven.

It wasn’t located far from where I had been the other day, just a bit deeper into a busier section of Tokyo called Machida. I knew this mega Dollar Store I was looking for lay somewhere close to another store I have been wanting to try called Tokyu Hands so my hopes were that I would see at least one without difficulty. I really need to stop expecting so much. After staring confusedly at the split in the road in front of me, I sighed and rolled down my window to ask a man on a motorbike waiting for the light with me. He pointed me in the exact direction I was not leaning towards. Left I went.

Only another block down and I found a large sign for Tokyu Hands exclaiming that I had made it. Parking was to be located at that store and not the 100 Yen Shop. I drove up and down that street looking for a way into a parking lot for the building, maneuvering down numerous tiny side streets. Determined to find that lot, I refused to get off the street even though I received several quizzical looks. I was more than willing to smile pretty tell the police that I am just some dumb American who didn’t know that I was driving down the sidewalk and am pretty sure I could have gotten out of an arrest using that poor of a line.

When it became obvious that no lot would be found, I ended up circling the area looking for any place to jam my box car into. Around one corner, a giant green “P” illustrated the way. Upon entering, I grabbed my ticket which meant I was totally going to get raked over the coals for parking there. This didn’t matter – I was just pleased to have survived the drive and be safely out of the car. Down the elevator and onto the street and of course I am not on the side I came in on or even recognize. My fabulous sense of direction *cough* kicked in and I went left to find myself right around the corner from the main street and Tokyu Hands. I made my way there and looked at the signs hanging on all the corners. Not a single one indicates 100 Yen. I walk up a block. Nothing. Back down two blocks. Nothing. No worries… I’ll just ask a young Japanese girl in her school girl uniform complete with tall socks glued to her knees to help.

Using my most perfect Japanese (okay, the word for 100 Yen is only one word, but even that requires great effort on my part) I tell her what I am looking for. She immediately started rambling back in Japanese the directions. My blank look and furrowed brow must have caused her concern because she motions for me to follow, leading me up a flight of stairs and says the word “green” while she points. Ahhh… so the green sign written only in Japanese on the second level, not even street level, is where I find the 100 Yen Shop? Now why couldn’t I figure that out?

Thrilled to be inside, I spent two hours taking escalator up and steps down, back up and back down I went until my basket became too heavy for me to carry. I had everything from wrapping paper to toys to incense. That place seriously did have everything! And I was determined to get it all into my basket.

I had set out that morning with about 7,000 yen. I spent 800 on the toll there and had 800 reserved in my pocket to get home. Parking was going to cost but I wasn’t sure how much. I counted my items and thought that I would still have about 1,500 yen for the parking, probably a little more than I even needed.

At the registers, the cashier rang me up and ooops! I possibly am a candidate for remedial math. I handed over 5,000 yen and she gave me 630 back. Trying not to panic but I was quite sure I couldn’t make her understand a squeal of “Take some of this shit back!!”

There is something I am not sure I mentioned about Japan. Our American ATM cards do not work in Japanese machines. In fact, few places even accept credit cards as a form of payment unless you are at a larger, more established store. I was pretty sure that I had screwed up and would have to live in my car in a parking garage in Machida because I didn’t have enough cash to get myself out and then still pay the toll home.

Only running to cut off that costly minute or two could help me now. And so I did. I ran to the foot of the elevators and straight to the ticket machine. I said a quick prayer to God to get me home without having to call and fess up to Kimono Hubby how incredibly stupid I was for not carrying more cash on me, the exact thing I had been chided about only a week before… and I stuck the ticket into the feeder.

“600” in bright green glowed back at me.

Thank you heavens and God and bunnies and rainbows! With the equivalent of 25 cents left in my pocket, I drove myself directly home and did not pass Go.

And I will never be so stupid again. The End.

1 comment:

Mike S said...

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