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GirlTalk Japan-- A Mini Guide For Women


She Loves to Shop...

Laura in Singapore writes about books...
Naturally, English books are very expensive and hard to find in Japan! Lots of people take their used books and exchange them...there are a few shops worth mentioning. The first is the Blue Parrot in Takadanobaba. Website: They have a great selection of books, their prices are the lowest and the owners are two friendly brothers - free internet, free magazines like Metropolis and the Tokyo Notice Board which help you find out a lot about the city and you can exchange your books for other ones. Lighten your suitcase or stock up on things to read for the next leg of the journey. Leave time to visit Ben's Cafe, just up the street and indulge in a Bailey's Latte, houmous and veggies, meatloaf and a totally non-smoking restaurant. Website:

The second recommended bookshop is the Intelligent Idiot, located above the famous Las Chicas restaurant in Omotesando. The owner is a friendly Japanese woman and all the books are new but with reasonable prices, ranging from $5 - $12. Expect to find current paperbacks, bestsellers, fiction about Japan, children's books, etc.

If magazines are all the reading that you require, DO NOT buy them at the airport where they are outrageously expensive. The best bet is Tower Records in Shibuya, 7th floor. Here, you have a huge selection, free reading time and also a wide variety of new books (expensive). The magazines are the cheapest you can find but start at $9 for a Marie Claire, Glamour.

As an aside, I started a bookclub for women only in Tokyo and they meet once a month to discuss chick-lit, drink wine, met other English speaking women and chill out. Email for the next meeting dates and book title.
Laura, Singapore

She loves antiques...
In my city, Nagoya, there is an excellent area for picking up used and antique kimonos, clothes, and furniture. The area is called Osu Kannon. Take the Tsurumai line (blue line) to Osu Kannon subway stop, and follow the signs to Osu Kannon temple (exit one or two). Walk through the temple (which has a great antiques market on the 18 and 28th of every month), and you will be under the first of three or four covered streets lined with shops. The first two shops on the left hand side of the street have excellent used Kimonos and obi (the elaborate silk belts used to tie kimono closed). You can pick up a used/antique Kimono starting from $15 dollars. Obi are a bit more expensive, at about $30, but both make excellent wall hangings, and the obi are excellent also as table runners. There are, as well, shops offering used fur coats, designer bags, jewelry, feather boas, and baby clothes (the baby kimono sets are really cute).

Her cheap chickens, pricey apples...
If you are in the Osu area, you also have to stop in the second alley at the Brazil shop, which is not it's official name, but that's what everyone calls this great place. You can get a whole spit-roasted chicken for about 1000 yen (the price of 5 apples in a supermarket), various amazing sweet and savory pastries, Brazilian beer, and you can hear a lot of laughter.
P.S. Right beside the Brazil shop is a cool place for clothes and things from India and Nepal -- incense, candles, rugs, mittens, and jewelry. A fun stop!

She checks exchange rates...
One last thing I'd like to mention; try to get a feel for exchange rates before you come to Japan, just to gauge roughly what you're paying. Basic things are very expensive, here. As I mentioned before, a bag of apples is about $10, a one litre container of milk is close to $2. But a lot of the souvenir items mentioned above are a little more reasonably priced. So, save your pennies before you get here, then happy shopping, everybody!

Lisa in Tel Aviv, Israel writes...
Basic foodstuffs are very expensive in Japan. If you shop in the supermarket, you can pay US$2 for a single carrot, $5 for a head of lettuce and $6 for a mango. My advice is to seek out the neighbourhood greengrocer, where you can buy root vegetables, greens, seasonable fruit and mushrooms for reasonable prices. If you crave Western food and budget is not an issue, check out the Kinoukiniya foodstore in the Bunkamura (Shibuya area of Tokyo.)

Beware the consumption tax in Japan...

A consumption tax of five percent is levied on virtually all goods and services in Japan, including restaurant meals and accommodation. Sometimes this tax will be included in the advertised price, and sometimes not, so check first if you're going to spend large amounts.

(Source: The award-winning, Rough Guide to Japan, Authors - Dodd and Richmond)

She flies a kite...

In Tokyo, you'll find the lively little Kite Museum on the fifth floor above Taimeiken restaurant. Since 1977 the restaurant's former owner has amassed over four hundred kites of every conceivable shape and size, from no bigger than a postage stamp to a monster 8m square. Open Mon-Sat, 11am -5pm. 200 yen admission. BTW -- Do-it-yourself kite kits make a great gift to bring home for the big or little people in your life.

(Source: The award-winning, Rough Guide to Japan, Authors - Dodd and Richmond)

Women's words on Japan...

artist painting JapanAmericans are often thrown by Japan. It looks familiar but, an inch below the surface, it isn't anything like the West at all.
Cathy N. Davidson, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, 1936

One must learn, if one is to see the beauty in Japan, to like an extraordinarily restrained and delicate loveliness.
Miriam Beard, Realism in Romantic Japan, 1930

Everything in Japan is hidden. Real life has an unlisted phone number.
Fran Lebowitz, Travel and Leisure, 1994

(Source: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women)





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