House sale, shopping, cooking in Tokyo
17th May, 2013. Diary Format.
We had finished all our food supplies and it was time to head out for a typical shopping spree. Tomek has to be back at his office (aka our living room) around 5 pm when Europe is waking up for work.
The weather is getting totally summery these days and it is my first day without tights.
Let’s go. This is the street next to our house. Kyodo is a very quiet residential area and I love it.
First stop. The small supermarket around the corner for drinks.
Japanese customs are polite and sort of standardized all over the country. You will receive your receipt being presented with both hands – always. And the coolest thing is that you can pay with very small change (without being told off or getting irritated looks from behind the queue) because many cash points have a magic bowl where the cashier just throws in your change and your money gets automatically counted. Win win. No one is annoyed.
We like lassi, or as the Japanese say ‘rassi’. Melon lassi (‘meron rassi’) is the best. Mango rassi wasn’t bad either.
Japanese English is very specific. The words are usually right but the sentences are funny. ‘Drinking a lot makes you happy’. Hm. Yes?
Setagaya is a good and expensive area. In terms of crime rates all Japanese areas are good. There is no crime. This is more about what you can afford. Today we came those across arrow signs that indicated newly build houses were up for sale.
To our surprise a sales agent was sitting right outside with a proper desk and the houses were open for viewing!
Of course we went in. There were slippers at the entrance so we left or shoes outside, the Japanese way. However, when we returned the salesman had placed them under the doorstep, so that we could slip right in. The fine details of customer service in Japan.
The Japanese house had everything build in. Bathrooms, cupboards, kitchen. Ready to move in.
One thing I don’t understand is why Japanese houses have balconies which are only used to dry laundry. They are so narrow that it would be impossible to get a table with chairs out. And that balcony goes all around the corner!
The kitchen had a very high ceiling but the ground floor had three rooms with ceilings that Tomek could easily reach with his hands. I prefer see through windows everywhere – but because of the proximity to the neighbours it is mostly like this.
This house has about 100m2 and is priced at 64,800,000 yen. In Japan you basically buy the land and I have heard that houses are made to last about 30 years.
One important feature for a house sale is the distance to the next station in minutes. This one is only 8 minutes. Our house is 15 minutes away.
Other houses on our shopping street are just being build. The price is a lot cheaper due to the distance to the station.
Time for our breakfast.
We went to a kaiten sushi place called Sushi Choushimaru, next to Kyodo Station.
Location: 3-1-42 Miyasaka, Setagaya-ku
We had fried avocado and egg plant sushi.
The details in Japan always amaze me. This is your hot water spot – with a drainer – to make green tea.
The tiny hooks are there so the waiter can place the bill at your seat without any disturbance.
The disturbing thing is though, that those little shell creatures you can see lower down in the picture are put on the grill alive and die in horrible pain. They should at least kill those poor beings beforehand.
Tokyo is serviced by the metro and various train companies. Kyodo Station is serviced by the Odakyu Line. All lines own buildings around stations. If you travel a lot, it will save money if you stay on one line without changing to another line, to which you would have to pay again.
Next stop was the 100 yen shop. In reality most things cost 105 yes (after 5% VAT).
A huge selection of household stuff, stationary, toys, cosmetics and food.
They even have very nice plates and all kinds of dishes.
Cute bowls. Made in Japan – I checked. Japan has incredibly many products ‘made in Japan’.
I bought some good dividers for only 105 yen.
Japan has cafés and pastry shops everywhere and we couldn’t resist hot and deliciously smelling chocolate croissants.
The highlight of this café is the macha-chocolate croissant but it was already sold out.
At our shopping street near Kyodo station.
Next stop. Another convenience store at Kyodo Station.
Drink and snack. You can go on like this forever in Tokyo.
A typical drug store.
We spotted these vitamin drinks which are about 200 yen but were on sale for 150 yen. They are very popular in Japan. And girls like to drink collagen. Getting a beauty injection in Japan looks like this.
We always pass this second hand shop on our way home. I get stuck here now and again.
We can smell the aromatic Indian flavours before we even see the Indian restaurant, serving great naan.
At the conbini (convenience store in Japanese). 7 Eleven is owned by a Japanese company and is open 24h.
We buy a lot of our groceries here because it is close to our house and has everything we need.
If there are special offers or discount coupons, the Japanese cashiers will have a pile of cut out coupons to automatically scan them for you.
Our favourite miso soup (a meatless broth based on miso paste) is in the bag. Japanese conbini staff will wrap everything up nicely.
Final stop at one of numerous vegetable/fruit stores.
Oh, yes, one more stop at our bakery. The smell of freshly baked fare is just awesome and the bread and pastry is presented like jewellery. You can look into the room where they make the bread. The lady is just cutting a steaming hot loaf of dark rye bread in half for us. Price: 600 yen – for half a tiny loaf.
I still love this store. The ladies making the bread and their tiny state of the art pastry are like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat.
They even gave us a small plastic bread bag, so we can put it in later.
That day was about 4,000 yen (about 30 Euros).
In the evening I had the great idea to make Polish Racuchy – a kind of oatmeal pancake with apples.
We brought this package with us from Poland because it was left from shopping and we didn’t want to throw it away. And it is vegetarian and we are sort of considered freaks in Poland because we don’t eat meat. So we took it with us and tonight I was going to make a delicious dinner, except that I didn’t have kefir, the required ingredient.
But hey, I had Japanese Calpis concentrate – it tastes a bit like Yakult but it was thick concentrate, so I thought it would work out well.
Apples, 300 ml of Calpis and the Racuchy blend.
Mixing it up.
And then all I had to do is to fry the mixture.
Unfortunately, I am not much of a cook. The first portions were too thick and the inside was still raw while some of the outside was a bit burned.
I tried smaller portions.
Did work. But. They consistency was all right, the taste… too sweet and weird. I thought about our neighbours and would have liked to invite them to be our objective testers but Tomek diplomatically commented on the idea: “Don’t put people in a difficult position.” I didn’t.
What I have learned: Eating out in Tokyo makes sense.
See you tomorrow! Hope you like my diary!