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O Fim duma Viagem

More Tea on a Saturday

JAPAN | Tuesday, 8 March 2016 | Views [219]

I was starting to run low on tea, so on Saturday I decided to return to Mariage Frères. Only not the Mariage Frères that I'd already been to, because that would have been too easy. Recall that the website put Osaka as “other towns” in Japan. Twice. I realized that there was a very good chance this second location would also be a small part of a large department store, but there was a chance it would have a different selection, so off I went.
I was halfway to the train station before I realized that I wouldn't actually be going anywhere new. The station I was going to get off at was the same station I get off at for Mondial Kaffee. But it was a nice day, and I didn't have my computer, so it seemed like it might be nice to just explore the area.
First, though, tea. I found the general store that was marked as where I should go, and sure enough, it was a large department store. Because I'd done this before, I was familiar with what I should do, and was already headed down at the same time I was checking the floor number on my phone. Yup, B2. Where all the food shops appeared to be. So I continued the way I'd been heading and looked around for Mariage Frères.
It was a good thing I had external validation that I was on the right level. Because after wandering around two times without finding any indication of it, I might have concluded that I was on the wrong floor and gone up and up looking for the right one. Instead, I concluded that the store didn't actually exist and I should find the best substitute I could. This was achieved through a combination of Paul, a French bakery chain (it started in France and expanded internationally from there. It wasn't my favorite place, but I did have their food a few times, so it was a taste of France) and a place selling tea. I picked up two genmaichas, one regular and one with matcha, and went back outside. (If the last sentence made sense, congratulations on your status as tea enthusiast.)
I could have headed back to Mondial Kaffee, but I didn't really want coffee right then. I could have gone to Tokyu Hands, but it was a nice day and I'd rather be outside. So I walked along until I found the covered streets that contained dozens of shops and even more people, all in close proximity. Sounded like a plan.
As I was walking, just looking around, it became increasingly clear that I could not continue to ignore the fact that my shoes were falling apart. I mean, I probably could have if I'd really tried, and they'd probably survive the remainder of the semester. But I kept ducking into shoe stores and looking around, which is not something I normally do. The prospect of actually buying them wasn't appealing, since it would require asking a sales person if they had any of the shoes I wanted in my freakishly large foreigner size. And then probably being led to a special room where I had no idea what was going on. But having a second pair of shoes, or a pair of shoes without holes, would be nice.
In a less surprising turn of events, I also went into a bookstore. There, my attention was caught by the English title “Osaka Cafe Guide 2015-16” surrounded by a lot of Japanese. After paging through it, I realized it was the solution I'd been looking for. 
See, I'd increasingly realized that I wanted to explore new cafes, and that it would probably be good to look up Japanese reviews. The problem with this is that googling things in Japanese is borderline terrifying. There's just so much information, all in a foreign character set, and it's not always organized in a clear way. If I have a website, I can usually figure out what's going on. But the ability to glance through a website to see if it was even close to what I'm looking for is an ability I don't have in Japanese. Which makes websearches much harder.
Which is why I needed to do searches in English and buy a magazine that contained descriptions of cafes. Because in the magazine I could tell what every page looked like, and that made it more manageable.
Halfway through the checkout process, I suddenly realized we were in Tsutaya. The store we'd gone to during survival Japanese to look at DVDs and get a point card was a Tsutaya. The cashier needed to call someone to figure out what she should do about accepting the card after I'd already paid, and I watched as other customers used their cell phones to take pictures of themselves posing with an actual camera. Then at last the card took, and I was done.
Survival Japanese is still coming in handy. Who'd have thought it?

Tags: books, pastries, survival japanese, tea

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