Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flat Stanley Goes Shopping on a Rainy Day

I was hoping Ryan's friends would take me to Tokyo Disneyland today or Disney Sea but they said both of those amusement parks would be much too crowded with Japanese families during Golden Week. Besides, it looks like it might rain today. This would be a good day to shop for souvenirs.

The weatherman says to expect 20 degree temperatures today. Brrr! Maybe I should have brought my winter coat to Japan. Wait! I just remembered that temperatures in Japan are measured on a different scale than temperatures in the United States. The Japanese use Celsius thermometers. In the United States we usually measure temperatures with Fahrenheit thermometers. Twenty degrees on a Celsius thermometer is about the same as 67 degrees on a Fahrenheit thermometer. I won't even need a sweater!

Can I use my American dollars and cents to buy presents for Ryan and his classmates?  No.  I visited a bank to trade my American dollars for Japanese yen.

Stanley has 1,666 yen

I lined up the yen coins from my toe to my head. The shiny aluminum coin at the bottom is worth one (1) yen and, if placed carefully, can float on water. This coin reminds me of an American penny. You can't buy much of anything with just one.

In order going up, the other coins are worth five (5) yen, ten (10) yen, fifty (50) yen, one hundred (100) yen, and five hundred (500) yen. Two of those 500 hundred yen coins can be traded for one 1,000 yen note made out of paper. A 500 hundred yen coin is worth about six American dollars. I like the way the coins feel in my pocket.

In Japan there are no coins worth twenty-five yen. What coins should I use if I want to buy something that costs twenty-five yen?  Figure that out and then you can look at the pictures from my shopping trip.

Pokemon started in Japan in 1995

What do you think is in the bag?

Hello Kitty! and Anpanman inflatable swords

Did you know that Hello Kitty was born in Japan in 1974? She visited the United States for the first time in 1976.

The most popular fictional character in Japan for the past ten years in a row for children up to age twelve (12) is Anpanman. Anpanman is a year older than Hello Kitty. He first appeared in a picture book in 1973.

There are shopping arcades near many Tokyo train stations.

This shop sells socks.  I see Anpanman!

Here is another familiar Japanese character.

These shops sell vegetables, fruit, and fish.

Shopping makes me thirsty! Lucky for me, vending machines are everywhere in Japan: on street corners, on train platforms, and next to playgrounds. Many vending machines offer both hot and cold beverages. I like hot lemonade. The corn soup tasted good, too.

We had Chinese ramen noodles for lunch.  Yum.
Bakery in a train station
I did not expect to see so many French bakeries in Japan. There is at least one bakery inside or right next to almost every train and subway station. I like the regular French bread, the bread stuffed with cheese, and the little chocolate croissants the best.

I have not yet tasted the rolls topped with peas or the lemon honey donut holes. First I want to try the fish-shaped cakes filled with jam or custard.

Bandai Capsule Station
Bandai capsule stations are not hard to find here since the Bandai company was born in Japan. These days you probably see lots of these machines in the United States too. What does it cost you to buy a toy from one of these machines in Washington, D.C.? The machines in Tokyo cost two hundred yen. Which machine should I try?

Let's take a chance on the Peko-chan machine!

Have you ever heard of Peko-chan? She has been the mascot of the Fujiya Ginza company for more than fifty years. The Fujiya Ginza company is a bakery chain that sells cakes and cream puffs. Life-sized dolls, some with heads that bob up and down, stand outside the door of each shop and are dressed in clothes that change with the season. Peko-chan is so popular in Japan that a special Tokyo museum opened last year to honor her golden anniversary.

Speaking of popular, how many of you like manga (MAHN-GAH)?  Did you know that "manga" is the Japanese word that means "comics" or "cartoon"?  "Anime" (AH-NEE-MAY) is the word we use to describe the animated versions of these books.  Many Japanese people, including young teenagers, follow one or more manga series.  They can hardly wait to read the new story every month.

Luffy-san welcomes Flat Stanley to Japan

Luffy-san is the main character in One-Piece, one of the most popular manga and anime series in Japan today. I was so thrilled to meet him!

Manga and anime character goods are sold at "Jump shops" all over Japan. These shops are usually crowded with customers, mainly young adults. They are even more crowded during Golden Week!

I had fun shopping in Tokyo.  I hope you will like the souvenirs I found.

Cartoon masks in shopping arcade

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