Category Archives: shopping

Build-A-Bear… In Japan!

For Annie’s birthday, we took a trip about 15 miles away for our home to Yokohama, which is a city that has the Cup Noodle Museum, an amusement park, and an assortment of malls and shopping centers. Although Yokohama has so much to offer, we hopped in the car and drove out there for one main reason: Build-A-Bear. Annie and I have loved Build-A-Bear since our very first trip and now that it came to Tokyo, we had to go and see it. It is like how they have always been, you pick a bear, you stuff the bear, you dress the bear, name it, and take it home. This process is slightly harder in a foreign language but we managed to make it through and get sheeps, since it is the year of the sheep. The Build-A-Bears in Japan are exactly like the ones in the U.S., from the Stuff Me machines to the Name Me kiosks. They even use the same Heart-Warming ritual. I love Build-A-Bear and how it reminds me that I’m not too old to still get things like Build-A-Bears.







Electric Town

About a 30 minute train ride away is Akihabara, also know as “Electric Town.” This part of the city is more of a local area, but quite fun for all types of visitors.

Shortly after WWII, Akihabara became known as a major shopping area for household electronic good and the post-war black market. Today it has evolved into the center for computers, mobile phones, used camera lenses, vintage video games, and, of course, anime and manga. Very Tokyo.

We did some shopping up in the Akihabara district last weekend.
No major purchases, just some phone accessories.


A great place to shop for furniture no matter what country you are in is Ikea. You have to build the furniture yourself, so the price is inexpensive and they have pretty good stuff. What you did not expect them to have is amazing food! Today we decided to look for a few items for the house and went to Ikea. By the time we got there it was lunch time so why not eat at the restaurant inside the store? When we got there we saw these food carts. They were just like standard shopping trolleys but they had slots for trays instead of a basket for products. There were three shelves for food trays. The food was really good too! As Ikea is a Swedish store, they had meatballs and pie, as it is in Japan they had rice and curry, as American food is good they had fries. The combination of cultures in food really worked. And in all places, Ikea!

Don Quijote

Busy day of errands here, and one of our stops was at the Don Quijote in Roppongi. Don Quijote is a discount chain store and usually a good first stop if you need beauty products, household goods, small electronics, phone accessories, unique import food items (best price on Spam in the city), and more! it’s somewhere between WalMart and Big Lots, but vertical (6 floors).

Unique to the Roppongi location is a half-pike roller coaster on the roof. Built in 2005, it has never opened due to neighbor concerns about noise and added spectacle to the area. It was still up there today, SBNO–standing but not operating.


However, the most memorable feature of this chain is the theme song entitled Miracle Shopping. Snappy tune. Enjoy.

Stair Climb

Tokyu Hands is a popular store chain, kinda like Target meets Ace Hardware meets Michaels. As is often the case in Tokyo, the store is far more vertical than horizontal; and, they use this in an interesting way. They put their cafe on the top floor and then labeled each of the steps with the number of calories burned off on the way up. It’s just little depressing that 7 floors is only worth 20 calories.

stair climb

The Costco Experience

Today was National Foundation Day, Mike had the day off, girls went to school as they follow a more American-ish calendar.

So, we went to Costco. By car. Our car. Mike drove. It’s about a 45 minute drive to the east and then around the bay a bit. (The top left picture is of the Rainbow Bridge.) Costco itself is a 6 story building, floor 1 is food–packaged and fresh. Floor 2 has the rest of the stuff Costco sells, including inflatable swimming pools. Floors 3-6 are for parking. We got there 30 minutes before the posted opening and managed to find a parking space on the 5th floor. Shopping carts are available at every parking entrance and the wheels are configured to grip the escalators as you travel up and down the building. (Top right photo.) After a quick stop for the Costco lunch special for ¥180, which, btw, tastes just like the one in the US, we went home. Everything fit into the Prius! Now, to get it to our apartment, we used a couple of carts that are stored in the basement for just such an occasion. (Bottom left photo.) We took them right into the apartment for unloading! (Bottom right photo.) So easy.


Another excellent shopping victory. After all of our discoveries these past three days, we all agree that we are going to be able to manage the fundamentals of living here. We can find clothing, international foods, the local farmers market on Saturday, Bento box items, and wine. Life is good.

In other news, the vet called and said that Xeno is “perfect.” Or his blood test results were, at least. He can come to Japan after July 16th.