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Shoes and Chocolate

JAPAN | Wednesday, 16 March 2016 | Views [385]

Following class on Monday, I took the now-familiar train to Nagahoribashi as if I was going to Mondial Kaffee. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.) Then I walked the same way I had last time when I was just looking around until I found the Sketchers shop I’d stumbled into last time.

It seemed kind of silly to buy shoes from an American company while I was in Japan. However, it probably doesn’t seem as silly as having three pairs of the same shoe at any given point in time. Which is what I’ve done between graduating high school and this semester. I really like that pair, they don’t hurt my feet, and they get worn out when I walk too much in them. It makes sense

Sketchers is the company that makes that pair of shoes. And even though the store I walked into wasn’t selling that particular pair, they were selling ones that looked close enough. Only a mellow blue instead of a bright pink, which honestly was kind of an improvement. So, since I needed a new pair of shoes before my current pair fell apart, there I went.

I’d prepared in advance (read: I looked it up on my phone on the commute there) with my shoe size in Japanese, so I was about as prepared as I thought I should be. The idea of walking into a store and not walking out until I’d bought a pair of shoes I wanted was oddly intimidating, but it was a good objective to keep in mind.

The store clearly only had single shoes for display purposes,so if I wanted to actually try on a pair I needed to get the attention of a sales person. But that should be easy. I was, after all, in Japan. More than half the time your entry into a store will be acknowledged with “irrashaimase” (“welcome honoured guest,” or something like that) and if you spend too much time hanging around the lоtion part of a department store, someone will come around and give you a sample of a lotion so expensive that even just the small amount you got would be measured in dollars. Basically, all I needed to do was wait.

Well, this isn’t working very well. Maybe I can catch the eye of someone who’s not busy… nope, she’s busy. Nope, she’s very much ignoring me. She’s busy. Umm…

Eventually, someone saw me and came over to help. I picked up the shoe I wanted and handed it over to her with the description “40.” Here’s where counters would doubtless have been useful, since without a counter, her returning downstairs with forty shoes would have been a justifiable interpretation. It wouldn’t have been a reasonable one, but it would have been justifiable.

Fortunately, the person helping me was reasonable, so she came back with only one pair of shoes. Unfortunately, the pair she brought was a solid size lower than I normally wear. She had an explanation which was either “we don’t have that size so I got the closest I could” or “I had no idea what you said, so I just grabbed a pair and hoped it worked.” I nodded and went along with it, whatever she said.

I sat down, and the saleswoman started loosening each of the laces. Then I put my right foot in and she tightened the laces and tied them. Repeat for the left foot. It was the first time in years I’d had someone else put on my shoes for me. Coupled with a large language barrier, it made me feel especially like I was a small child who couldn’t put on my own shoes, which was a rather disconcerting feeling.

Once the shoes were on, I was trusted enough to walk around the store without someone holding my hand or watching to make sure I didn’t try to fit entire shoes in my mouth. The shoes felt fine. Based on a short pacing, they didn’t feel too tight or painful, so I signalled my approval to the saleswoman and changed back into my old shoes. She asked if I lived in Japan (I think that’s the first time that anyone’s looked at me and made that assumption) and when I said yes, asked if I had Line. (popular messaging app here) Again, yes. By friending the store, I could get another discount on top of the ten percent off that was unique to the pair of shoes I wanted for that day. Slightly confused about what was going on, I did so.

At the register, I was surrounded by Vietnamese women (they had their passports for a different kind of discount) who couldn’t seem to quite decide who was buying the shoes, and how many at a time. At last they got it straightened out, and it was my turn. Both discounts were applied, I got a cloth bag to put the shoe box in, and my mission was complete. Yay!

Next mission: buy chocolate. Now, this is not a hard mission, and I do it most days. But this time, my parents had said that part of their birthday present to me was for me was White Day chocolate. Around Valentine’s Day, I noticed that Tokyu Hands had  a box of space-themed chocolate with chocolates chocolates designed to look like planets and galaxies. And although Japanese gender roles are such that I wouldn’t expect to see that again, there would probably still be a decent selection.

I was not wrong about that. There was a decent selection of regular or merely flavored chocolate. (Flavors included Japanese sake, several kinds of tea, and sakura, so normally I would not call it “merely.”) There were also a number of novelty chocolates, like a box of dinosaurs. Or this.

Chocolate Nanoblock

Well, that looked interesting. So I bought it.  The chocolate part turned out to be a slight exaggeration. There were chocolates, which were shaped like macro Nanoblocks minus the ability to fit together. The chocolate was tasty enough, just kind of boring.

Instructions

The same was not true of the Nanoblocks. Nanoblocks are like smaller, more detailed versions of Legos. Assembling those to form a heart was almost too too much fun. I say “too much fun” not because I want to be bored in Japan, but because I’ve seen some of the designs that are way more interesting than a heart, even a broken one, and don’t really need to pick up a new hobby right now.

Assembled heart

Even if it would be fun.

Tags: chocolate, heart, nanoblocks, shoes

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