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A Journeywoman's Top Tokyo Tips...

 

Evelyn Hannon

Laura Coulter, a twenty-something Canadian Journeywoman loves working and living abroad. A teacher, she has just spent the past six years in Tokyo, Japan. Laura has gleaned a nice list of great places for women to eat, drink, shop and relax. She'd like to share what she's learned from experience with other JourneyWomen worldwide who will be travelling to Tokyo in the future.

Find the foodhalls...

My first piece of advice is to check out the food halls located in the basement of every department store. They're colorful, full of wonderful smells, taste-tests galore and friendly staff happy to show you their wares – rows of seafood, vegetables, deli treats, exotic wonders, etc. In one section, you can check out the 'gift fruit' where a watermelon can cost $100 or 4 peaches can total $200. Each piece of fruit is perfect and packed, ready to be sent to someone as a luxurious gift. In the food halls, you can get various bits to eat and put them all together for your dinner. Each stall will give you a oshi-bori (wet napkin) and fork/chopsticks. You can also buy cookies and cakes and they will be gift-wrapped – a wonderful 'thank-you' present to someone in Japan or a souvenir for your trip home.

 

Hunt for 100 yen shops...

For souvenir shopping, hit the 100 yen shops. Everything in the store is 100 yen (about $1) and there is an amazing assortment to chose from. Some shops, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Ikebukero are multi-levels and the items are divided into sections – kitchen, home, beauty, etc. The selection is endless – dishes, napkins, chopsticks, washi paper, snacks, charms, hair accessories, slippers, etc. This is the place to pick up things for your trip – travel-size shampoo bottles, extra toothbrushes, mesh bags for dirty laundry, socks, locks for backpacks, and also places for souvenirs and gifts – funny stationary with Engrish on it, kimono print notebooks, lanterns, etc. You can go crazy inside – everything is just about a dollar.

 

P is for perfume...

Surprisingly, perfume is an excellent bargain in Tokyo – cheaper than duty free. Fueled by the demand for luxury goods and an incredible shopping obsession, several shops have popped up in Harajuku and Shibuya, offering all the brand perfume at low prices. Kimoriya in Shibuya and several along Takashita-dori in Harajuku offer great deals.

Along the bargain hunting line, Yamaya, is an international liquor and food store, selling an amazing selection of wines, cheeses, spirits and beer. This is a great place to get a bottle of Japanese whiskey as a souvenir to take home with you, wine for your hotel room, or just some snacks. They do home delivery for the locals and have prices lower than duty-free. There are forty-five locations within Japan, several in the Tokyo areas – Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukero, etc. Website: http://www.yamaya.jp/

 

Little ones love 7-11 gifts...

Need to bring something home for a little one? Stop at the 7-11 or any convenience store and take your pick of the “weird” candy – funny names, great character designs on the box and unique snacks that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Fran, Pocky, Melty Kiss, Green-tea kitkat, seaweed potato chips, coffee gum, etc. are all decorated with little characters, katakana writing and neat designs. Makes for an affordable and easy to transfer gift.

 

Yearning for yoga...

If you feel tired and achy and want to get in touch with your inner Zen, check out one of the many yoga studios that are popping up in the city. I highly recommend Sun and Moon in Meguro. Owner, Leza Lowitz, is friendly and calm – this is a no-frills, basic and warm yoga studio – attitudes, lattes and mobile phones can be left at the door. Beginners are most welcome and there is a drop-in rate if you just want to try a class or a reasonable package of four lessons, if you are going to be in town for a few days. All equipment is provided and it’s close to the subway station, so easy to find for new-comers to the city.

 

 

 

 

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