May 31, 2015

This post is an archive post from 2009 when I was studying abroad at Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku in Tokyo, Japan.

Around a month ago I went to Ameyoko (アメ横), a famous shopping street in Ueno, with some friends from school. The street is chock full of shops selling all sorts of wares. I saw belts, bags, kimono, fruit, gyros, shoes, sushi, golf balls, and on and on. The thing that caught my eye the most was the fruit stands though, especially the fruit on a stick. I didn’t buy any as I wasn’t hungry, but the pineapple on a stick and melon on a stick looked especially good while walking around in the summer heat. The price wasn’t too bad either, around $2 for a stick.

The reason all the fruit stuck out is that I never really see fruit anywhere. When I do see fruit it’s crazy expensive. There are a couple of reasons I believe fruit is more expensive here than America. One is the fact that the fruit never has bruises, they only ever sell pristine looking fruit. I can only imagine how much slightly bruised/overripe fruit is going to waste. The other reason is because it’s always packaged in a nice looking box, or wrapped up individually in plastic. Back in the states it’s just a big bin of fruit and you pick through and find what you like.

After Ameyoko I tried to run over to Kappabashi-dori (A street famous for selling cooking/restaurant stuff, including the plastic fake food Japanese restaurants are so famous for.)to buy some souvenirs, but everything was closed by 5pm. This is another thing I’ve noticed in Japan, the business hours suck. Just about everything except restaurants and bars seem to open late, around 10am, then close early, around 5 or 6pm. In addition some places have a one to two hour break around lunch where the shop is closed. Larger stores will often have better business hours, but when you go to the smaller shops or restaurants be prepared for a locked door or closed sign.

Looking back on the hours that businesses were open I actually don't think it's much different in America. At the time I may of been used to larger businesses in America that are typically open until 8pm, which the department stores in Japan are open equally as late. I've noticed since living back in America that many small independent shops typically have similar 10am-5pm business hours as the small shops in Japan did. If you plan to visit any particular small shops while visiting Japan I would recommend looking for business hours online, as it is still possible that they close abnormally early or keep irregular hours.

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