The Daiso Diaries… Halloween column

Just a heads-up everyone that I’ve decided to post my column for this week on Monday because it’s the week of Halloween. So yes, instead of two columns (one this Friday and one next Friday), I’m just doing one on Monday.

Thanks for your support!

Jade, not Jack

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The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 17

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Another week has gone already. Most of mine was spent in Tokyo which was lovely and most definitely needed and sure, I found perhaps the most widely talked-about Daiso in Japan, but to be honest, it wasn’t my favourite.

Where am I talking about?

The Takeshita-Dori branch located in Harajuku.

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As a side note, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Japan or just Japanese pop culture and fashion in general, Harajuku is THE fashion mecca of the country and a significant place in the world too for anyone interested in those things. It’s where the weird and wonderful and all that’s in-between blends with the beautiful, creative and highly imaginative worlds of the people who inhabit and visit the area.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yes, describing the shop itself.

It’s multi-leveled and to be brutally honest, no different from any other Daiso in my opinion. Unlike other branches though, I don’t like the vibe. It feels funny and rather than the light, bright and cheery mood usually associated with Daiso, going up the stairs on the first floor made me dark and gloomy. I guess the Halloween products didn’t help, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Instead, my favourite branch of Daiso in Tokyo is the one I stumbled upon in the Tokyo Skytree Solamachi or Skytree Town building. It’s great. It still feels shiny and new and yet, it sells all your (and my) favourite products at the same prices.

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Actually, I found while I was in Tokyo that I spent more time in 100 yen chains other than Daiso. I couldn’t find what I wanted there, so I went elsewhere.

I was specifically looking for that black eyeliner pencil that I talked about back in Chapter 2.

Gone.

And not just in one branch, but ALL the branches.

It’s like the ‘anpan’ of Daiso: it apparently exists, but you can’t seem to find it anywhere. If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, you need to get yourself over to the GetHiroshima website and look for my konbini column. No, I’m not giving you direct links, do a bit of your own research or try typing in, ‘missing anpan GetHiroshima’ into a Google search. You’ll find it.

Whatever the case, I’d had enough of not being able to find it, so I said, “Fuck this,” to Daiso and went to Can Do instead.

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Okay, I didn’t say that, but I did think it and I only went to Can Do because I happened to be going past one and decided I was sick of looking like a tired and washed-out woman with six kids (due to my lack of eyeliner).

I was super pumped to find coloured eyeliner in shades of orange and purple, so of course I bought both. I also found what claimed to be a black eyeliner pencil, but despite the name, it’s absolutely eyeliner and nothing like a pencil.

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Anyone and everyone who knows me, knows I cannot draw to save my life (ask my students!) and this includes using eyeliner. Hence, why I buy and use pencil; it’s easier to erase!

It’s my fault really; I seem to have, ‘misplaced,’ my eye pencil which, translated in English or Japanese means, ‘lost,’ and thus, if I hadn’t have lost it, I wouldn’t need to buy a new one. Then again, if I didn’t have to buy a new one, nearly this entire chapter wouldn’t have a need to exist. So possibly, I was supposed to lose it so I would be forced to get out of my, ‘Daiso comfort zone,’ and explore new possibilities.

Or… maybe it’s a sign I need to practice drawing more.

Either way, I quite enjoyed my little adventure in a place other than Daiso. Daiso and Hiroshima are very similar for me: easy to navigate, very comfortable and not challenging me in any way, shape or form at the moment. Tokyo and Can Do and other chains were just what I needed last weekend.

Next week I’ll be reporting on all things Halloween! Make sure you get down to your local Daiso to pick up some awesome supplies for your costume!

Until then… insert witty quote here.

 

 

 

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 16

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Location, location, location!

It’s all about the location.

Tokyo is THE location to be if you’re into Japanese fashion (or fashion in general to be honest), subculture and of course, if you’ve ever had a dream of making it in a big city.

This Saturday I’m off there yet again and I’ll be researching just what location means for Daiso in Tokyo.

In this week’s column, however, I’ve decided to take a look at the best and the worst location of Daiso in Hiroshima. Remember, this is just my opinion; you are more than welcome to disagree (Hiroshima people, obviously, I’m talking to you) and for all my other readers, tell me about your location experience, good or bad.

When I first moved to Hiroshima, I was unfortunately in a place that I now consider to be worse than my hometown. For those of you who know how much I detest my hometown and what it’s become thanks to mining, this statement means a lot!

In fact, this place makes my hometown look positively cheery and if given the option, I would surely return there, rather than face the dismal, dark, disturbing heap that is this place.

Where am I talking about?

Shitty Saijo.

Sorry, I mean Saijo. The ‘shitty,’ just came out naturally.

The only good thing about it is the sake/Nihonshuu (日本酒) and I’m fairly sure that is the only thing that makes it bearable for those who have to live there. By this, I mean they’re always drunk and don’t have to face the fact that it’s horrible. The place I mean, not the sake.

Have I mentioned I find this Godforsaken place the Hellhole of Earth?

No?

Well, let me just say it again: NOTHING good comes out of there. It is cursed.

That aside, if you live in a rural part of Hiroshima, most Daiso branches are located within shopping centres. This makes them pretty convenient because you don’t have to go out of your way to find them. You can literally do your grocery shopping and then pop into Daiso for the Essentials of Life (snacks, craft supplies and accessories… not necessarily in that order).

Although there are some Daiso in shopping centres within Hiroshima City (e.g. Aeon Mall in Fuchu- Tenjingawa Station is the closest), many also exist as stand-alone shops.

I kind of like this because it means you’re on a specific Daiso shopping expedition. Thus, you’re less likely to be distracted by other shops etc., which, to me always results in me forgetting what I went to Daiso for in the first place. Then again, if I simply go to Daiso, I often buy much, much more than I would if I was carrying bags from other shops too.

Now, let’s go for the bad news first: the worst location for Daiso in Hiroshima.

I for one feel that the worst Daiso in Hiroshima is the hole-in-the-wall (literally!) shop that is closest to Parco in Hondori. You have to fight to move past people and I have never been able to find what I want. This is probably because I’m trying to walk up the stairs which are as steep as a traditional Japanese house, and hoping to God that I don’t fall backwards and take all my fellow customers out on the way.

My biggest bone of where there SHOULD be a Daiso and there isn’t though, is Hiroshima Station.

WTF?!

It would be the perfect spot for so many reasons and would be a great last-minute gift idea place for tourists to go. Then again, this would also make most of the new shops in the station redundant, for why would you buy an expensive, boring gift when you could buy something cheap and awesome (and probably/hopefully useless) from Daiso? Mind you, I’m sure this is EXACTLY the reason they HAVEN’T put one here; they want you to have to spend your money.

I have now reached a point in my life (or possibly just in Hiroshima), where I don’t want to see anyone I know when I go downtown. Yes, that might seem antisocial and it probably is, but I have my reasons. Anyway, this means I have stopped going downtown unless I actually have to pass through it to actually get somewhere else. Also, my old favourite branch of Daiso in Hondori closed down (the end closest to the Peace Park bridge), so I learned to explore my own neighbourhood branches.

Thus, the best location of Daiso (for me) is the Yokogawa Station one. I like it for its accessories, its huge range of snacks and other easy-to-prepare-or-make foods and its craft and school supplies. It’s also conveniently located for when I’m getting off the train and realise I’ve forgotten every single thing on my list that I was supposed to get while I was on my shopping trip to Tenjingawa.

For intrepid travelling and exploration, I like the Dobashi branch and the one near my apartment (again, I’m not giving you the address because you might be a stalker). I often find myself jumping for joy about products I’ve discovered there. Usually I buy them and then they sit on my floor in their plastic Daiso bag until I finally decide one day to open them up and use them.

That’s my take anyway.

Next week I’ll report back on the Big Daddy (or Mummy; we’re equal opportunists here!) Daiso in Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.

Enjoy your long weekend! I know I will!

P.S. Obviously, I don’t have (and would never include if I did), photos of any Shithole… I mean, Saijo Daiso branches. I don’t apologise for that since I would never recommend going there. To Saijo I mean, not Daiso.

Actually I didn’t include ANY photos did I? It’s not that I didn’t want to include them; I didn’t have any! 😛

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 15

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The other day I received an email from a friend and loyal reader of my Daiso column. He had read what I’d written in Chapter 14 about the products being made in Higashihiroshima and wanted to tell me what he’d discovered. He said sure, their head office is in Hachihonmatsu, but actually, most of the products if you read closely, are made in China. The coffee filters are an exception; they’re made in Germany. He knows this because he’s not only a coffee drinker, but he also buys them from Daiso to use for his coffee.

I confirmed this with another friend who said yes, you need to look closely at the packaging because on first glance you assume it’s made in Japan.

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This brings me to an interesting point and that is, that many, many Japanese people have told me time-and-time-again that they refuse to buy products made in China.

Hmm… do they realise this about Daiso?!

When I told my mum this she told me to shut my mouth and keep people ignorant, but being a Daiso lover and yet, wanting to make sure people know the facts means that I have to tell people. Hence, this week’s column.

Anyway…

The other thing my friend commented on was that the range of original snacks at the Yokogawa Station branch is more extensive than other ones he’s been to. He then followed this up by suggesting that we work our way through them. I for one am more than happy to oblige since it’s, ‘work.’ It’s called, ‘product review.’

Yeah, yeah, who am I kidding?!

Moving onto a few of the products I picked up from Daiso last weekend. Quite a spread there.

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I decided to decorate my apartment on Saturday for the Autumn Equinox and hence, I went a little nuts with fake autumn foliage.

As you can see, I decorated my apartment door with leaves that I stuck on using easy-to-remove tape. Actually, that’s a lie, it’s not easy to remove at all, but I didn’t have any other tape that would hold them up there. And I added a little hanging decoration with owls and leaves.

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I also bought a maple leaf garland and threaded it through my curtain rod in my room.

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I had some fake leaves from last year too and put them in an old sake bottle to decorate my kitchen.

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Can you tell autumn is my favourite season?

If you look really closely at the first photo, you’ll also see I bought some burnt-orange socks to wear for autumn.

I know it’s not the last trip I make to Daiso for autumn stuff this year. I suspect my classroom is going to get a few helpful pieces, but saying that, I really like the hand-made stuff my kids have made. Some with Daiso products I might add. Like paper plates.

Anyway, I’m sick this week actually and thus, I haven’t been out-and-about as much to take photos of stuff for you. I think I’ve done enough though to satisfy your Daiso craving for another week…

Until next week… take care with this change of season and your health!

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 14

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In my konbini (コンビニ) column (yes, as in about convenience stores) for GetHiroshima next week, I’m talking about the similarities and differences I found between East and West Japan, so if you read my blog and also follow my konbini adventures, I’m totally giving you a sneak-peek!

If you don’t, you should, but I’ve decided to do the same here for this week’s column.

Yep, talk about Daiso East versus West.

To sum it up in one sentence:

It’s the same…

Except for the limited space in places like Tokyo where the majority of stores consist of multiple floors, not spread-out on one level.

There is, however, a little more competition. By this, I mean that although people do shop at Daiso and although it is still the main choice for shoppers, it does need to keep ahead of the game because there are other 100 yen shops to choose from, some with a particular focus on a specific type of product such as homewares. Like Le-Plus for example.

I’m not saying that these are better than Daiso, I’m simply saying that there are other places to choose from and some people prefer certain 100 yen shops for certain products.

I like Daiso the best because it’s practical, fun and is of good quality. Plus, all the items are made in Japan; in Higashihiroshima in fact. Not all the 100-yen shop products at other chains can boast the same.

In Hiroshima, just like the East, we do have the Can Do and Seria 100 yen chains. We also have the 3 Coins one, but obviously, this isn’t 100 yen (duh! Hence the name!)

On my trip to Tokyo though, I must say, I’m really starting to see that the sun rises in the East (innovative creations and interesting and quirky people) and sets in stone in the West. Yes, on more than one occasion I’ve heard Japanese people say that Hiroshima is super conservative. In other words, if a new business really wants to test the longevity of its product/products, try it out in Hiroshima. The critics are harsh and traditional. They don’t like to change or deviate from what they know.

I do believe that Hiroshima has the population and interest to sustain new chains of 100 yen shops that are in the East and not here… yet. In fact, it might even be the shake-up Hiroshima needs. Are you sensing I really did discover how much I’ve missed Tokyo and life there?

Hands down my favourite 100 yen shop I found in Tokyo though is the Lawson Store 100.

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You don’t need to ask why because the reason is obvious.

The Lawson Store 100 is both a konbini AND a 100-yen shop.

Could there be anything more perfect or necessary in this world?

I think not.

Here is a brilliant concept which combines two uniquely Japanese shops, both of which are an essential and everyday part of life in Japan.

Genius.

The Lawson Store 100 has the usual, ‘Lawson,’ logo so it’s easily recognisable, but yes, with (most) products at 100 yen.

Basically, it’s a 100-yen store for food. Since I love food and I also love cheap stuff, it’s a match made in heaven.

Here are some of the goodies I found:

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Yep, a Lawson Store 100 brand of my favourite Strong Zero products. No, I didn’t get to try any because I was taking medication for sinus and couldn’t drink. Sigh. Not to worry. I will just have to go back and try them. All.

Of course there are also onigiri (おにぎり) or riceballs, but the price isn’t much more in an ordinary store anyway.

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The best thing are the fruit and vegetables for 100 yen. Yes, EVERYTHING for 100 yen. As anyone who has lived and worked in Tokyo knows, things are more expensive and never has that been more-true for fruit and vegetables. This kind of store and savings is heaven sent.

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So yes, I did discover that Daiso is much the same everywhere, but Tokyo, you opened up a whole new world of possibilities for other 100 yen stores. I miss you already…

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.

 

 

 

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 12

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Halloween may be in October but as I mentioned last week, Daiso has already well and truly set up their products. When I walked in today I found a heap of school kids already buying stuff and I must admit it’s a smart idea.

Why is it a smart idea?

Well, because the closer it gets to Halloween, the less choice you have.

Hence why I’ve decided this week to show you some of the awesome products you can buy from Daiso for Halloween, but also ones you can use at other times of the year.

Let me explain.

First up, costumes.

Look, I’m a quirky girl (read weird if you want to). I like costumes at any time of year. For me, every day is Halloween. Why wait for one day of the year to dress up? Like this tutu skirt for example. I own five tutus in red, pink, orange, blue and yellow. Oh and a long princess skirt in pale pink. This costume is good over leggings whenever you want. Girls or guys; I don’t discriminate. Rock your world baby.

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Bat stick. I’m not really sure what this is exactly, but I like to think of it as a kind of cane fashion accessory. I’m certainly someone who would use it for that; if you’re not, I guess you could hit people with it… Be inventive and let me know what you came up with.

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Ah, body paint. I haven’t used this stuff since senior high school when my boyfriend and I went away by ourselves and discovered chocolate body paint. Unfortunately, this is nothing like it, but hey, it IS glow-in-the-dark which is also pretty cool. I can think of numerous fun games you could use it for… most of them are X-rated.

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This cute cat you can buy and use for any time of the year to decorate your room, apartment, outside, whatever. He’s a dude and he knows it.

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My mum is constantly getting angry with me for A. picking my nose and B. using my nails. That’s why this product is so good. You can use it for your Halloween witch costume and for the rest of the year, use it to pick your nose with and avoid dirtying your fingernails. I’m fairly sure my mum will just groan at this bit and say she meant I should stop picking my nose with any object, but she also knows that’s never going to happen. I like picking my nose.

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Handcuffs. Okay, so the last pair I used… I mean, saw, were fluffy and pink, but these are fine too. You can always think of a scenario to use them for: a monster wants you and has chained you up and although he’s a monster he’s also super-hot (think the Beast from the latest, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ movie) and you’re quite willing to let him ravage you. Did I just write that down? Yes, I did. Moving on before I let you in on any more of my secrets.

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Fairy lights in your apartment or bedroom are always cool and these little Halloween ones are awesome. If you’re Goth or Emo you can keep them up all year round! They might be 200 yen (plus tax) but they’re totally worth it!

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Daiso makeup is always a go with me and these makeup accessories for your eyes and face are beautiful. I am definitely buying some, but knowing me, I won’t wait until Halloween to wear them. I’ll wear them now!

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Tinsel is fun to decorate your apartment, but why not use the tinsel as a type of feather boa? Sure, it’s a tad scratchy, but it looks good and will make you feel super cabaret naughty. Oh wait, not everyone wants to feel that way… okay, my bad… use it for decoration then.

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I own multiple wigs including a long, curly red one, an afro and a bobbed orange one that makes me look like a pumpkin. This is fun. I would never wear this for Halloween. It’s more of an every single day kind of wig.

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Last, but not least and completed unrelated…

2018 calendars have appeared in Daiso stores.

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Oh.

My.

God.

See you next week!