Sunday, May 25, 2008

Venturing to Costco

It's been a few months since we've been to Costco, so when we decided to go today I was very excited! For those that know me, you know I was at Costco at least twice a week in Hawaii and WalMart at least two or three times per week. I've been in withdrawal not having WalMart here, and going today helped fill the gap. It's in Yokohoma, about 20-25 mins northeast of our house. We got directions from FFSC's (Fleet and Family Support Center) website. They've got directions to all sorts of places which is very handy. Anyway, it was fairly easy to find thanks to the English directions we had, but driving there and looking at street signs was a different story. Bob said, and I have to agree, "So this is what it's like to be illiterate." We laughed pretty hard afterward, but it's true! We were constantly counting stoplights, since no street signs were in English. One would think to look for landmarks of restaurants or shops, but again, none were in English. Around the base they are, but we were traveling further from the base and towards Tokyo.

We parked on the roof and took the moving sidewalk down. Think of those moving walkways in airports, except on a down slope. The girls thought it was a riot, while I was terrified the shopping cart was going to move and beat us to the bottom. Despite the decline on the way down and incline on the way back to the car, the magic cart did not move an inch...I mean centimeter...after all, they use the metric system here. Our guess was magnets, and I'm sure it said so somewhere, but we couldn't really read the signage until getting to ground level. We noticed that this Costco was about the same size or a little larger than the one in Hawaii (Waipio), which is surprising in the land of small-and-efficient. I've heard that there's an even bigger one nearby that has two floors! I saw a lot of the familiar sights, like the McCormick spice jugs, but in addition to the lemon-pepper and oregano, there were things like shichimi.

The fish section had a lot more than slabs of tuna and salmon. Like octopus, squid and huge shrimp. Of course, this being Japan, alcohol was much better represented. A whole sake aisle! They had the rotisserie chickens for ¥798 (about $8) and pizzas...including one with shrimp on it. For ¥80 (about $.80) you can get a cup of Cora (sounds like cola but with an 'r,' and it's not called Coke here) with free refills at the food court. Speaking of food court, much to my surprise, hot dogs, chicken bakes, pizza and soft ice cream were all on the menu; same menu as in Hawaii....even ice cream with the berries. It was ¥260 for a hot dog and Cora, so about $2.60.

The free samples were all over the place, and even though we didn't know what half of them were, we tried a couple. And get this, one sample was red wine! I wish I got a picture of that, but Bob was already ticked that I took as many pictures as I did. The bakery there must be popular, because people were literally standing at the door waiting for these rolls. The people would come out with the bags of rolls and be mobbed! We later found out they're cornbread rolls.

A fun trip to Costco, and we'll be going back. Not a couple of times a week, especially since they didn't have mango juice (again, those that know me well know that saga), but it was fun nonetheless. Once we got closer to our house we stopped at the grocery store around the corner called Marutesu. When we saw the size of the shopping carts we laughed so hard I was in near tears. Speaking of that, the shopping carts at Costco were smaller than in the States....probably about the size of a normal grocery cart. After seeing the shopping cart at Marutesu we figured it's to scale...Costco carts are larger than grocery store carts here too; they're just smaller all around. Anyway, getting back to Marutesu, the grocery store is in the basement, clothes on the ground floor and housewares on the third floor. I found two more KitKat is White and I have no idea what the other one is. I took a picture of the back of the box, and it looks like white chocolate with brown chickenpox!

While we were waiting in line a woman across the isle from us came up to Keanna and Sydney and handed them origami cranes. She spoke no English, but we all said "Arigatou" (thank you), and I bowed and she bowed back. Oh yeah, the girls know how to say 'thank you' in Japanese and know how to use it in the correct context. Anyway, she was even kind enough to show them how to use it. Immediately after I saw her go behind a counter, grab a piece of paper and make one for a boy standing in line behind us. She was in her late 60s-early 70s and very sweet.

So that was our day....we immersed ourselves in the Japanese culture (well, for the most part), except we didn't use the toilets in the floor. Oh, and if you're wondering why the price tags at Costco have English on them, it's because it's an American company. I took a lot more pictures today, and if you'd like to view them click here.


Anonymous said...

I was LMAO when I saw the size of that shopping cart at the grocery store too! I bet Sydney didn't even fit in it let alone groceries!

I'm making our weekly pilgrimage to COSTCO today and I'll think of you. I'll fondle the mango nectar for you, LOL!

Shari said...

Don't you know the only country people can travel to and not feel illiterate is the USA?? We make sure everyone is accomodated in every language except English sometimes LOL!!!
Love the blog - keep it up. I enjoy reading about your time in Japan! My time in Virginia is going to seem soooo boring compared to your life lol!!!

Jackie said...

You're my hero! You're doing such a good job! :-)

Keep this up...I love stories and pictures!

Jacob spent 3 days in PICU and 3 days in Peds, so we're all exhausted...Mom and Dad just left on a comercial flight, after 3-4 middle of the night trips to Hickam trying to get a Space A flight....!