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! 😛

Hiroshima: countryside?

The other day I was at the doctor’s and had to get some medicine from the pharmacy around the corner.

I had filled in the required form in Japanese (what I could) and told the pharmacist that my kanji wasn’t so great, so he’d have to do the rest.

He did and actually read the rest of the form to me asking me whether I was pregnant (no!), was there a chance (no!) and was I allergic to any medicines.

Despite me telling him my Japanese isn’t great, he kept saying it was and struck up a conversation with me about how long I’d been in Japan.

I told him I’d been in Hiroshima for four years and that nearly 13 years ago I’d lived in Tokyo for a year

That’s when he came out and said (and obviously, I’m translating here!), “Wow, you lived in Tokyo and now you’re in Hiroshima?! Hiroshima is countryside! It must be really different from Tokyo and not so exciting!”

Actually, he said boring rather than, “not so exciting,” but I tried to soften his meaning.

Anyway, I agreed that although it’s smaller and yes, it’s different, Hiroshima is nice and if we’re going to talk countryside, than Shimane Prefecture to the north is far, far more rural than Hiroshima!

This was all done in Japanese and when I finished saying that, both he and his assistant burst into laughter. I was chuffed that I’d managed to use Japanese and have people laughing at a joke I’d make, rather than laughing at my actual Japanese.

I said thank you for my medicine and walked out, still chuckling to myself.

Then I started to think.

Yes, Hiroshima is regional. By some standards, I guess it is rural.

I’m from Gladstone, Queensland in Australia, which has a population of about 30,000 people. By Japanese standards, that’s countryside or inaka (田舎). Hiroshima, with it’s approximately 1.1 million people is a good-sized city according to my standards, but for Japan, it’s tiny. To those who live in Tokyo and for those who live in Hiroshima and have never lived in a big city like Tokyo, I guess it is inaka. 

I know what he was saying though. I understand. Or should I say, I understand now. I’ve lived in both.

And I guess, in a way, after living in Hiroshima these past three, nearly four years… Hiroshima is kind of like Gladstone:

  • small;
  • conservative;
  • everyone knows everyone (and sometimes that’s not a good thing, especially when it comes to your business, hence why I pretty much took myself off the radar)
  • not diverse as far as population;
  • expensive and far away from the Big Smoke when it comes to wanting to travel to many places;
  • in many ways, inconvenient (see above point);
  • good for families but not so great for singles or people wanting to meet more actual people and not have to rely on bars of Tinder (yes, that’s a point for a friend of mine);
  • and finally, it doesn’t have the culture, art and fashion I so desperately crave.

That last point really hits home. I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed having access to those things. I mean I know in my hometown I was out of there as soon as the holidays came and I detested the place with every fibre of my being. I like Hiroshima, I really do. It’s the one place I’ve lived longer than anywhere else for a very, very, very long time. That says something. But I also know in myself that I’ve been feeling stale and flat for two years.

Visiting Tokyo again has been like a breath of fresh air, but it’s also re-awoken the fire within; and the need and desire to challenge and expand myself and yet at the same time, to lose myself in the anonymity again.

In that way, yes, Hiroshima is the countryside.

 

Japan: The Stepford Society?

Just like the movie, ‘The Stepford Wives,’ many people think that Japan is the perfect society. The people are polite, extremely kind and will go out of their way to help you.

Indeed, that is true. Most of the people are.

But, and there is a but, like every society, there lurks some hidden and often very shocking facts that many people A. don’t know about or B. do know about, but wish they didn’t.

Deal with it, people. I’m sticking this in your face now.

Japan’s sexual assault and rape laws are just like any other country… or perhaps worse.

When I told people of my experience, the women’s reactions in particular were much the same as if I’d said, “I had dinner last night at 6pm.”

In other words, there was no reaction. And when I dug deeper, the reason for this is because my story is the same story they’ve heard time and time again. It happens so often they’ve become numb to it.

Whether it is a foreign person or Japanese person who rapes a woman in this country, the reaction is mostly the same.

You’re usually told not to get so drunk next time, or perhaps, not to go to their apartment or invite them to yours.

Oh, and if you’re unconscious, well you didn’t say no (BECAUSE YOU WERE INCAPABLE!) so…

And if the attacker wasn’t violent (as in the case of you being unconscious), then it’s not rape either.

But that is all changing and this essential reading article highlights that.

Yet still, I’d like to say I left my job and my rapist is still working at his job teaching young  18, 19 and 20 year olds. I left because I refused to work with someone who did that to me and who has done it to others. And… I refuse to work for a company that wouldn’t fire him unless he did it to me again.

Their reasoning: “We can’t find another teacher in time.”

My reaction: BULLFUCKINGSHIT.

 

 

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!