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Costco in Japan and Karaage Lunch!

This was an awesome day out, and something that two of my Japanese friends and I had been planning since January! With conflicting work schedules, it was difficult to find a time when all three of us could get a whole day free, but this weekend, we finally made it out to the Costco in Kawasaki.

With all the crazy COVID-19 stockpiling going on, I had been worried that the Costco would be crowded with long line ups. So, we decided to arrive there by opening time, at 10 AM. All three of us live in Tokyo, but far from each other. So, we all got up very early in the morning and headed to Kawasaki Station, where we would meet at 9:30 AM. For each of us, it would take about one and a half hours to get there.

For some reason, I couldn’t sleep all night, and finally gave up and got out of bed at 4 AM. I had a nice, slow morning, and arrived at the station early. I had expected people on the trains to all be wearing masks and be practicing the social distancing that seems to be strongly encouraged in other countries right now. However, people were very relaxed, and sat side-by-side as normal.

From Kawasaki Station, it is a 15 minute bus ride, and then a short one minute walk to Costco. There’s something about seeing those bright red letters that gives me the nostalgic warm and fuzzies inside! ❤

We stayed for three and a half hours. Just like elsewhere in Japan, it was totally calm. It was crowded in certain popular areas, but many other aisles were completely quiet. The lineups were quite short as well.

I had heard that American Costco’s had stopped all sampling, and expected this to be the case around the world. However, I was happy to see that samples were still going. The only difference was that they would just put out one or two samples at a time, and then wait for the person to take it and leave the line before putting out the next sample. This meant that there was no chance of anyone but the consumer coming in contact with the sample.

Ah, Nespresso coffee…

Costco’s around the world all carry some of the identical Kirkland brand products, but other than that, it’s great fun to see what is sold at international branches. In Japan, they have things like nori, soy sauce, sushi, tofu, sembei, miso soup, and an infinite selection of rice.

After shopping, we headed back to the station in search of lunch. We found a mugi toro restaurant. Mugi is barley, and in this case refers to white rice that’s cooked together with barley grains. Toro is made when a particular type of mountain yam is grated, and forms a thick, gooey paste. This is poured over the hot barley rice, and topped with a bit of wasabi, shredded nori, and soy sauce.

Each set lunch came with a bowl of mugi toro, but we could each choose our mains. I got chicken karaage!

We carried around this massive bag of chips all day long, passing it from person to person, coddling it like a delicate baby.
Okay, well someone dropped it once as well…

After a relaxed lunch, we went to Yodobashi Camera, which is a huge electronics chain store here. They have everything. We were in search of cellphone cases, and although they found what they wanted, nothing caught my eye.

So, we went to another store called Tokyu Hands. This place reminded me of a combination between IKEA and a toy store. They sold everything from daily necessities and furniture, to all sorts of quirky little gadgets and toys. It was here that I was able to find a cute cellphone case that I’m actually super happy with.

After lying around on their display beds and getting far too sleepy, we headed to a nearby Afternoon Tea. I got a chai ice cream float, while they got apple pie and strawberry shortcake. Although the only thing we had done all day was play and eat, we were pretty tuckered out by the end of the night!

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