Today, one of school's students offered to take me and the Town Mouse to one of Kyoto prefecture's two Costco locations (known as "Cosutoco" in Japanese.) It is a new branch, opened about a year ago, and is about thirty minutes from Kyoto Station by car, with no traffic. It can accessed either by the expressway (paid-road) or the freeway (congested, but free).
This Costco was just as big as any Costco in America, with cart escalators to boot. It was my first time to see one! I think the first wave of nostalgia to hit me was when the whiff of the food court floated out the entrance. My first thought was, I'm back in America! Of course, the feeling never really went away. Despite that a lot of the packages in the electronics and beauty aisles were in Japanese, almost everything else was imported. Some of the stuff, I could really see as being useful to this area, like cheaper meat, Alaskan crab, cheese and the like.... but some of the other stuff must have simply been there as show. There's no way it could see in Japan, not unless a millionaire wanted it.
It's no exaggeration; if you've ever lived in Japan, you know that land is really hard to come by. Most families are lucky to get a small gardening area in the back of their house. But Costco in Kyoto was selling full sets of over-sized patio furniture, and giant backyard tool sheds. To boot, in the highly western style, so even if someone with the space bought one of them, I can't imagine the architectural style of their house matching the furniture. Odd. Anyway, it was an awesome trip. I got lots of loot for the school and for myself.
|Cheese! At U.S. prices|
|Cheese is now accessible in Japan|
|I used to love these muffins...|
|C-E-L-E-R-Y~! Only about $4 per bag!|
|So American.... So gross :P|
|My favorite chips in the world~|
|The loot! Swiss Miss Chocolate, Garlic Spread, Jelly belly Jellybeans, Skippy Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese, Honey Butter, Korean BBQ, Celery, BAGELS, Tillamook cheese, Kettle Chips, A&W root beer, sandwich wraps....|
Going to Costco has really inspired me to start looking into getting a driver's license in Japan. I think if I can get a driver's license, my life will feel normal here, because I won't be so limited by transit schedules. Not that I need to buy a car right away, but I do want a license, so that during holidays, the Town Mouse and I can rent a car and go places. It'll end up being cheaper, in the end, since we always have to pay double the train/bus fare, and we can't take the dog along. Just another thing on my to-do list. Though my priority right now is finishing my Gilman Scholars project, which is due at the end of May.