Monday, November 14, 2011

Monster, Sam Adams, and Goldfish

Stepping into the New Sanno Hotel, I noticed it right away. After showing our ID (and my grandma showing her military dependent's ID), we drove into the parking lot. It was like stepping into another world. All the signs were in English: One Way, No Parking, and the octagonal Stop sign. Where was all the Japanese? This is Tokyo?

Little America in Tokyo

After a huge, mediocre (and yet oh so good) lunch of a Philly Cheesesteak and Buffalo Wings in the hotel restaurant, we made a quick stop by the casino. Again, not what I was expecting, but it was just like any other hotel in the US. And then...

There it was: the Navy Exchange Store. My Grandma used to go to the one at Moffett Field near San Jose, to buy groceries at a discounted price. She took me a few times as you needed an ID to get on the base. What I remember the most is being in awe at the discounted luxury goods and clothes--for instance, I bought a titanium Fossil watch for about $35.

The store in the New Sanno Hotel was a lot smaller for the obvious reason that it's inside of a hotel. But the designer goods were still there. This time, however, I wasn't attracted to all the flashy cases and American labels. As I've matured, my priorities have changed. So, unlike my more youthful self, I went straight for the candy and toiletries. Toothpaste and deodorant that actually work? Yes, please!

Sigh... if only I had more baggage space...

But wait, there's more! Just down the hall of the Navy Exchange was the General Store. What was in the General Store? In the US, it'd be nothing special... just like a 7-11 or a mom-and-pop liquor store. In Japan, though, it becomes a thing of beauty. I couldn't stop grinning as I ran up and down the displays (it was only 2 rooms, but still... I ran like a kid in a literal candy store).

I eventually settled on a Monster, Sam Adams, and Goldfish. Random, I know, but it's funny--you don't really know what you've been missing until it's right in front of you again.


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