3 min read

Shop Right

Japanese retailers have mastered the art of selling things that you desparately want when you find them but didn’t know you needed or simply, stuff that looks way cool but you’ll probably never use.

Two stores made this point clear and also entertained us for hours.

First — Don Quixote. No, we’re not talking about the man of la mancha.

Every random gadget and food item can be found at this wondrous store. Think dollar store meets grocery store meets arcade meets Lady Gaga’s brain.

They even have a theme song!

We stumbled upon the store one night while getting lost on our way back to Shibuya from Shinjuku. Lured in by the bright lights and odd items, we spent a while looping the aisles without even knowing where we were. Only until the next night when Izumi brought us to another branch of DQ in Ginza, did we realize that we had already been in this infamous store.

Our excitement for this discovery can only be explained by how we first found out about Don Quixote, which is possibly more entertaining than the store itself. Our DIY okonomiyaki dinner on our second night in Tokyo left our clothes (our only clothes) seriously smelling like leftovers and since we didn’t want to spend the next morning in a laundromat, we went in search of the next best thing, Febreeze. Before discovering that an imitation product was available at the local Lawson convenience store, we turned to Google and found this which completely left us rolling on our tatami mats, in tears and gasping for air in between bursts of laughter.

Don Quixote will now forever be known as Donkey Hote.

Second — Tokyu Hands. While this store doesn’t have all the literal bells and whistles of Donkey Hote, it does have a much wider (and a bit more practical) selection of items. We moseyed from floor to floor and admired all the possible inventions we could buy: apron that holds your laundry? silicone fish steamer? smile enhancer? even the Insane Sean T. made an appearance.

In the end, only one section made us ooh and ahh with amazement —the pens… OOHHH the PENS — fine point, felt tip, erasable, multicolored. Izumi enlightened us about the Frixion pens and we had to get our hands on some (okay, many) since the selection was way larger than in the US. These slender pieces of thoughtful engineering made us want to write, color code, erase, then do it all over again. (Geeks.)

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