Thursday, June 3, 2010

Costco, Cainz, and Crazy Pets

Costco in Japan is a really interesting experience. We joined to keep our grocery bills a little lower - almost every food item is a little more expensive here than in the States, I assume because almost everything needs to be imported.

We priced a lot of things like cat food and litter, laundry detergent (the average grocery store will sell laundry detergent for about $25USD), peanut butter (usually $5USD), fruits and veggies, beer (usually $2USD per can), frozen foods, paper towels...stuff we're used to. We also discovered a number of Japanese food items like different soup bases and seasonings, sushi nori, a zillion kinds of rice, curry mixes, types of seaweed I've never seen before (let alone know how to cook with), and any type of cooking oil you can think of. The deli had competitively-priced beef, the sushi section had party platters, and I saw a package of crab legs the size of a keyboard from a single crab.

This made us happy - we found a waffle iron/sandwich maker with a taiyaki mold. We could make yum-filled fish waffles of our own! Not as important as a car or trash cans, though, so that will have to wait.

In true Costco form, there were some impractical items that don't seem to belong anywhere, like the giant wicker apple with a bench inside or the full-size inflatable swimming pool. As if anyone in a hundred-mile radius has a back yard more than ten Doraemon Pancakes wide.

It looks like Costco here is comparable to Costco in the US for packaging size and price. It was definitely worth the trip.

Next door was a huge store called Cainz, which can't be Japanese because of the spelling, and it was like a Target, Home Depot, and PetSmart all in one. It was the size of a LARGE warehouse store (very very unusual in a place where a building is more often a living room size but five stories tall) and had everything. Each section was comparable in size to a US department store section (most are very, very small and cramped). There was an electronics section, a small appliances section, cleaning supplies, curtains, washlets (toilet robot friend, as I prefer to call them), curtains and bath mats, carpets, alcohol (sake in a box!), cleaning supplies, and makeup.

In the pet section, there is the required wall of puppies and kittens, a couple rabbits, and some finches, but there were some unusual pets. Giant beetles are apparently popular (half an aisle devoted to beetle food and supplies). And by "giant" I mean stag beetles and the like. Oh, and they had a pair of exotic chickens in the room with the parakeets. The fish section was probably the coolest because you can get one of these:
It's called an Axolotl or Mexican Walking Fish (thank you, internet). I'd never seen one in person before. Part of me really wants to get one, but the rest of me realizes that an aquarium is WAY too high maintenance for me.

In other news, we've moved into the house as much as we can. Our household goods are due to arrive in another week or two. Pictures and commentary soon!

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