Tag Archives: supermarkets

Curious City

Wednesday was Morizo, today is Mozo, and tomorrow’s anybody’s guess, but probably a day off from the blog, given the publishing pattern I’ve come to adopt lately.

A Bustle in Your Hedgerow

Mozo. After years of only hearing about it, I finally got to Mozo Wonder City shopping mall in Nishi-Ku, Nagoya. I can see now why people sometimes seem to prefer it to other area retail options. As the website explains, with typical Japanese non-committal, open-to-interpretation ambiguity and flowery language, the concept is one of a murmuring, a tiny rumbling/trembling/rustling/fluttering/nudging; sensing the beginning of a movement (literal or figurative – again, it’s up to you), perhaps being on the cutting edge or being present at the birth or sprouting of a trend, indulging your curiosity and growing like Tajimi roadside vegetation in June. My description is beginning to get as overgrown as their concept page, or the ivy nurtured outside their buildings, but you get the picture. It’s got lots of cool stuff.

As it happens, I mainly went to see a movie at the theater there. Besides feature films, this playhouse shows things you might not see anywhere else. Case in point: Three Idiots, the highest grossing Bollywood film ever, showing three years after its release. It was quite the romp. Be warned, unless you speak Hindi, you’ll have to be quick on your toes. There is a 5% mix of English in the dialogue, but the subtitles are all in Japanese. Don’t worry if you don’t catch every detail; Just repeat to yourself: All Is Well, All Is Well. You’ll get it if you see it. No, none of the idiots are called Moe, zo.

I only had time to linger in a few stores. There’s a Village Vanguard with a better selection of architecture and interior design books than other “VillaVans” I’ve been to, and Kitano Ace natural peanut butter mother lode imported food store. The anchor store is Aeon. The whole place is having big sales through Sunday, and even the regular prices I saw were pretty good. There was a very healthy, but not smothering, throng of customers well into the evening. Roads there don’t tend to get jammed, but if you don’t go by car, you can get there on the Meitetsu Line, getting off at Kamiotai Station and walking five minutes.

On a Quiet Roll

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Today was setsubun, when people threw beans for luck and ate ehomaki sushi rolls like these at Sun Plaza supermarket in Toki. Tradition calls for eating the sushi without a sound and facing a certain direction each year. I think it was north this year. Psychologically, folks come to feel we’re turning to face spring.

Update: I guess it was south-southeast this year. And apparently you’re supposed to/can make a silent wish as you chew the roll up.

Aisle By That

The Bottom Line

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Not sure exactly what the angle is with these banners at Seiyu supermarket, and I don’t present them here for criticism, but for me the effect was ultimately a good one – it kept from buying snacks or food that would make me gain weight. From a public service point of view, Seiyu could be doing a great thing, though I doubt that’s their, or parent company WalMart’s, intent.

You have to admit the weight aspect, in such a svelte country as this, is utterly conspicuous and not merely (co)incidental, if only for attention-grabbing or, one hopes, non-hurtful amusement. Maybe it’s supposed to make customers feel thin by comparison. Or maybe it’s just meant to be creative. Seiyu’s last series of these aisle-ending banners, though I can’t recall exactly what they depicted, were, I do specifically recall, high on shock value, to the point of being off-putting. I suppose it’s nice to see a Japanese business really trying to be different, but from a purely marketing standpoint I don’t think that’s the kind of innovation that’s needed. The customers are already in the store, so why turn them off?

But of course short-term profit from sales isn’t everything, and I’m only being a cynical marketing-devil’s advocate. I think it’s possible to be responsible and make a profit, and maybe if other customers are affected by this campaign the way I was, they’ll show their appreciation in the form of loyalty to Seiyu as it listens, perhaps in spite of itself, to the market and winnows out less healthy food choices. Win-win.

Nah, just wishful thinking, probably. Gotta blog about something. But if customers are at least subliminally influenced to skip the chips and dips, and store executives do pay attention and respond by catering to demand more, maybe it can be a bit of a model for twentieth-century business lions successfully making the transition to leaner, more responsive and responsible, leading-edge lynxes weaned off of subsidies and good-old-boy backscrubbing. Just don’t bother the stuffed shirts telling them too many of the pesky little details, like the fact that everyone benefits from a healthy society.

Four Little Words

I agree with Jerry: The writer it is.

I wasactually (sorry, the space thing (peripheral touch thing) is so rampant itdsserves to be uncorrectedand shown up for what it is*) thinking to myself just the other day that the name Pop Tarts must have had some relation to Pop Art. I even checked the aisles atMeidi-Ya, after failing to find eggnog for the holidays, to see if they sold them. But as far as putting it in the blog, as I subconsciously tossed it around in my head, I was loathing making the obvious, tired reference to Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein. Now, frustrated artist that I am, I may have an opening.

I hope you could link to the video, funny as a left cheek with no right whatsoever, savagely chewing on a forked tongue in super slow motion. If you couldn’t, this will make even less sense than whatlittle ot’s making now. Anyway, what really caught my ear (and boy, is that another story for another time, via a link to be determined (you’ll see)), somehow, was Seinfeld’s use of the word “daunting.”

I began to posit sentences like “I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I daunted someone I really cared about;” “It’s not really worth daunting at this point,” “Aww, who daunted on the sofa?!” and “why don’t we daunt this out like adults?” The possibilities are… daunting.

And Jerry’s four word hypothesis is intriguing. A little tip I may try myself. There you go: “cheek,” “chew,” “savagely,” or some part of speech thereof, and “tongue.” Oh, wait. Tongue and cheek are already taken as a set. But daunt worry. I’ve got plenty of cheek where that came from. I just have to be more content with content and remember that all wordplay makes Jack a dull blogger. I did pick up this soup at Meidi-Ya, by the way.

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Thank you, Jerry, for helping show there is such a thing as getting something for nothing, if not a free lunch from the Soup Nazi. Many a creative writer’s power is his or her dedication and deadline. Beyond that, where the stuff actually comes from, often no one can foretell. Kind of like canned SpaghettiOs, Spam, or Dum Dums’ Mystery Flavor.

*File it under Truth to Materials, kind of like Pop Art itself, a refusal to deny the visual milieu of the day, however banal or ugly**. People have used typewriters’ artifacts as part of “concrete poetry,” or retained drunken slips of the finger at the keyboard (Truth to Tequila), or made use of the mobile camera’s distortions, but I may be the first person in the world to deliberately make use of the iPhone 5′s sensitivity issues, which probably resulted from a verycomplex cost-benefit analysis at Apple. Just my luck this’ll be the one time people finally realize how trivial (in its inevitability) such truth to environment has become, and I’m roundly rejected as a pathetic artistic wannabe.

**O, to be in college again indeed, where the word “milieu” is never out of place.

Big, Red

I don’t recall seeing pears this big in the US (here with an apple-mirror-bearing iPhone4 and an early (tart but okay) mandarin orange for comparison), or even in Japan until this year, but they’re being sold as “western pears” at Sun Mall in Toki.

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The green hulks are quite similar to LaFrance, which ironically aren’t on shelves this year, but with a more buttery texture, and twice as much fruit.

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You Can’t Compare

Also briefly sold at Sun Mall were deep dark red Akibae apples, a hybrid of Senshu and Tsugaru, seen with regular oranges for reference. Leery as I am of any apple besides locally grown New York varieties like macintosh, my expectations weren’t high, but I gave in to curiousity and picked one up. It kind of made me think of a Snow White movie poster I saw recently. The result? Not poison, but not the fairest of them all. It might work with pineapple and other fruit in a fruit salad. Or as a movie prop [laughs sinisterly, echoing to fadeout].

Not a Player

Fate led me to pachinko last weekend. Nothing else was going to, that’s for sure.

Parlor Games

I was asked to appear Sunday on FM Pipi’s (76.3 mHz) weekly live broadcast from Zent pachinko center, to talk a bit about the business I work for. It’s a segment of the Sunday show that introduces local businesses to listeners.

Driving into the sprawling new complex at the corner of routes 19 and 248, I was struck, though I was already well aware of it, by what I have to say is the questionable use of human potential and money represented by the vast tonnage of cars parked and stacked outside.

On entering the building, the indescribable (like all sounds ever made blasted at once, or maybe something Mephistopheles would have on his mp3 player?) arcade cacophony followed me into the multi-purpose studio, though apparently not across the airwaves.

Regarding another reason I’ve avoided the parlors since trying one at someone’s insistence decades ago, I actually noticed a “smoking area,” which makes me think, goodness forbid, smoking may actually be banned?

After the show, the boss and I (it was a joint appearance) had lunch at the Nagoya-based Sugakiya ramen outlet in the building (smoking allowed there), which also has its own Circle K convenience store and (how convenient) ATMs. Sugakiya also has branches at Valor supermarkets. This bowl was ¥580 and not as burdensomely filling as a lot of ramen. I thought the photo deserved its own memery (my word, “memery,” as far as I know, though I wouldn’t be surpised if someone else long ere planted a flag there).

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Something From Nothing

And another excuse to slap block letters on an otherwise inferior foodie photo and call it macaroni: These “tofu donuts” sold at Sun Mall supermarket in Toki were pretty darn good. The words basically refer to leaving only the center of an image in focus to draw attention there.

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Stopping to Shop at Asunal

I recently dropped by Asunal (Asunaru) by Kanayama Station, picking up a grocery item from Seijo Ishii supermarket, which features some imported and specialty foods.

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While there, I had the Pasta Amatorichana as part of the all-you-can-eat pizza lunch special at Alioli Cucina on the second floor. The pizzas were limited to three kinds, and because people weren’t ordering that special much, the pizzas weren’t constantly being replaced with fresh as they are at, say, Marino. The drink bar was also pretty limited. For ¥1459, you’d expect more, but it was okay. The big fixture on the ceiling may look interesting in the picture, but looks more like something out of a 1970′s mall in person. Maybe at night the lights look neat.

There are a few decent gift shops as well, and of course fashion shops and a variety of restaurants.

Popular Kani Lunchspot

I recently had a nice lunch special at popular open-kitchen Cocon Restaurant & Patisserie in Kani.

In addition to the main dish – your choice of meat, fish or vegetable – there’s soup, salad, rice or bread with free extra helpings, a drink and dessert. When I went the main dishes were steak, salmon saute, and Japanese style lettuce/tomato pasta. My steak was quite tasty. The whole thing came in at ¥880 plus tax.

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As Cocon is so popular, if you’re like me, though there is refreshingly ample space between tables, the noise level created by the building’s structure may make normal conversation a bit of a challenge, despite dividing shutter-screens as well. As one word-of-mouth web commenter also noted, the wait for dessert was somewhat long, which shouldn’t be a big problem unless you’re in a hurry to get back to work. The entire place is non-smoking for lunch (until 2:30, café time, when there’s a smoking section), and the restrooms are some of the most automated I’ve seen. There’s also apparently open-terrace dining, though it seems patrons of the apiarian persuasion are known to crash that party. I was very curious about the tree outside the entrance. It looked prehistoric or something.

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Afterward, I did a little locavore grocery shopping at Toretta Hiroba on route 122 near the Kani bypass. Operated by JA, they feature domestic produce. I actually found a true green pepper, or green papurika as they might call it here, as opposed to a piiman. ¥105 at that.

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Red and White, and Something Blue, Thanks to Lotus, Just for You

Lotus to the rescue with an excuse for a Fourth-of-July blog post. Here’s a Lotus Cafe limited-time original “American cherry” dessert with black cherries soaked in red wine with cinnamon and spice, served over ice cream with a sprig of mint. It rang in the fourth late last night.

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Update: Maybe somebody at Sun Mall supermarket was hip to the holiday. American-grown cherries finally went below a yen a gram, just for today.

Abstruse Connections? We Got ‘em Covered. Never Fear

And to add some blues to your muse, a sexy Lotus (Elise?) that was recently parked below my apartment.

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Thanks, Dear Olde England, for the Lotus, and for all the tea, and, you know, that sporting wrestling match you gave us, and the sensible surrender at Yorktown, and that night in Paris, and James Bond and Monty Python and Sir David Attenborough*. And you’re welcome for Churchill, and good luck with that little sporting match you’re hosting. And with the English lessons. Cheerio.

*and Ivor Delve (R.I.P., my friend. And we’ll work all day in the old fashioned way till the shinin’ star appears… on Diamond Hill. That thing’s been a-burnin’, babe, an’ it always will…and the rainy season rain keeps on fallin’ down…) Credits to Richard Thompson and Butch Hancock, among corporate others.