The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 13

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Damn it!

The other night I realised I was out of washing up liquid and hand soap and so I headed off to Daiso to buy some.

Except, what do you think happened?

Right.

I came out with an extra four things that I’d found and bought. I did remember the two necessities though… for once.

Anyway, this is what I bought.

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Hairclips.

Yes, it seems that my sudden obsession/fascination with something I can’t actually use for its original purpose (since I have a distinct lack of hair!) is encouraging me to be more inventive. Kind of like when you’re a kid and your mum or dad won’t buy the latest insert whatever you want here but instead, either give you a much cheaper and less cool version or you take it upon yourself to improvise. What happens of course, is that basically you try to convince everyone that what you have is actually better than the original. If you’re very good at lying… I mean convincing… you might even succeed. If you’re phenomenal, you will believe it yourself too.

I believe that wearing hairclips as fasteners on your clothes is way cooler. A few of my students agree.

Anyway, I just had a thought… since this is Chapter 13 of The Daiso Diaries, why, oh why, didn’t I leave writing about Halloween until this week when I could have been all mysterious and gone with the whole number 13 thing?

Not to worry, because what I’ve decided to write about is my upcoming trip to Tokyo this weekend and what I’m planning to do.

Yes, it does involve Daiso.

As you know I have a great love of Daiso, the 100-yen shop that has taken the world by storm. Sure, I know there are other chains of 100-yen shops here in Hiroshima, but there are a heap of new and different ones in Tokyo. It is my aim to research where they are, hunt them down and then report back on what I found there.

I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s flash back to 2005 when I lived in Tokyo, or more specifically, Fuchu City. Located in the Western suburbs, I found it busy without being too over the top like the inner city ‘burbs of Shinjuku and Shibuya. I used to regularly stop-in at a non-name 100-yen shop at Fuchu Station on my way home from work. Actually, it may have had a name, but I’ve long since forgotten it.

This shop was located above the station and consisted of one floor of cramped odds and ends with no real method to their madness. There were none of the clearly labelled aisles or floors found in Daiso today and so you had to blindly stumble and fumble around until you found what you wanted… If you did indeed find it. I was frequently asking the staff to point me in the right direction.

Despite all that though, I did usually find what I wanted including super cheap foodstuff items for when it was the last few days before being paid and my housemates and I were skint. We would pool our money, walk to Fuchu instead of catching the train and then hunt down the best bargains we could find.

How I miss the days when stuff actually was really 100 yen!

Oh, but wait, there’s a story involved here which I cannot believe I didn’t think of until now.

One night my housemate Claire and I were checking out what goodies we could buy before we purchased them and walked home. We decided to take a different route and head down a somewhat darkened side street that we quickly realised was actually just hostess bar after hostess bar.

Me being a skinny white girl obsessed with running (read anorexic at the time) and thus, not very attractive, I was hardly going to raise any interest, but Claire… well Claire was curvy, busty and had long silky, shiny black hair with blue eyes. And the thickest Scottish accent to boot. And the guys who stepped out from all of the places knew it. So did the black van that kept driving past us… once, twice and then a third time.

By that point, Claire was pissed.

“What the fuck do they want?”

We soon found out.

Yes, it seems we had walked down Yakuza Street where every business was owned by them and the black van and its human occupants were most interested in asking Claire if she wanted to join their ranks. As a hostess I mean, not yakuza, obviously.

Oh, yakuza, if you’re not familiar with the term is basically the Japanese version of the mafia; an organised crime syndicate that isn’t exactly legal, but is both the bane and saviour (sometimes) of the Japanese Police. Go figure.

Anyway, Claire did say no, but that didn’t stop the van driving around the block and asking again just to check. She was firm, they said thank you in English and disappeared in their black suits, Rolex watches flashing as the windows went up. Electronically of course. We never saw their eyes; they were always wearing black sunglasses.

This was at night. Clearly there was no sunlight.

Now, back to the 100-yen shop and how this involves yakuza.

One night Claire had been working and I had a day off. I was at home when I got a message from her saying she was being stalked by one of the same guys from the van who was following her around the 100-yen shop. Knowing that he wore a real Rolex, she doubted he was trying to find a good bargain. I thought he wasn’t being very subtle because the shop was tiny and he was a large man, so there wasn’t a lot of room to hide.

I went and met her and he disappeared.

We never went back to that 100-yen shop and we never walked down Yakuza Street again.

The only people I meet in Daiso today are either young or old.

And no one wears a Rolex.

 

 

 

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