Tuesday 14 January 2020:
Continuing from my previous post, after the mouth-watering journey at Kuromon Market, the next thing on my itinerary was to hunt for some good quality umbrellas! Buying umbrellas in Japan feels like a very tourist thing to do, isn’t it? After all, their umbrellas are known for their sturdy quality, large variety of designs all in different shades, colours and structures.
Shinsaibashi Waterfront was the store I decided to purchase my umbrellas from because I read some good reviews about the place and it happens to be the largest umbrella specialty store in the world. I visited their online website as well, and they boast a huge range of umbrellas to suit each and every customer’s needs. For those interested in their products, you can check them out here: https://www.water-front.co.jp/flagshipshop/
Google Maps did its job well in leading me to the store, but quick note to all who are interested in visiting the shop as well: the store is located on the second floor so it is not immediately visible on the ground street. Have faith in Google Maps though, and at the spot where the location is supposed to be, take a good look around and there should be a small sign indicating that Waterfront is on the second level. One flight of stairs later, you should reach the entrance of the shop – which has a very cute decor indeed!
Upon entering the store, I found that I was the ONLY customer in the shop. The staff were chattering before I entered, but the moment I stepped in, they immediately stopped. Talk about awkward – I wished they would continue their conversations but the Japanese people are simply too polite. It was slightly nerve-wrecking trying to browse, knowing that everyone’s attention would be focused on me, but I forced myself to take my time in choosing the umbrella designs. I ended up buying 2 umbrellas: 1 small floral-printed, flattened umbrella that resembles a pouch for my mom, and a bigger plain black sturdy Toyoma Thunder umbrella for myself. I’m hoping that the umbrella would be able to withstand the strong winds of Adelaide seeing as how all my previous umbrellas have been destroyed by the winds there.
One noteworthy thing that I noticed while paying for my purchases: As one staff was tallying up the bill at the counter, another staff was testing out the umbrellas for me. He took both umbrellas out and opened them, checking for any defects before rolling and packaging them up nicely for me. What excellent customer service indeed!:)
Satisfied with my purchases, I headed off to the Dotonbori area to hunt down those famed glitzy billboards which are the icons of Osaka, as some may say.
Since I wasn’t in the mood for shopping, I caught the train back to Kyoto instead, or more specifically the Sanjo Meitengai Shopping District. Not to shop, rather to get my favourite Taiyaki! It’s tradition for me to buy a taiyaki from that particular store whenever I’m in Kyoto. That store sells the BEST taiyaki that I’ve ever eaten. I’m so thankful that my family and I stumbled across that store (purely by chance) 3 years ago, and that I begged my parents to buy that as a snack.
Before I forget, the store I visited is called Naruto Taiyaki Hompo (Sanjo Teramachi)! If you ever visit Kyoto, be sure to give these little fish snacks a try! Their taiyakis are baked(?) to perfection – crisp golden on the outside and steaming warm filling on the inside. There are a variety of fillings to choose from but I always go for the classic adzuki red bean. Thick, sticky, sweet paste with the occasional extra chew from the stray unmashed beans makes it the ultimate snack to get.
The skies were still bright after I finished my taiyaki, but I had no other attractions planned so … Starbucks it is! There was a quaint little outlet near me and it had the cutest little small tables (meant for two) by the large windows. If you know me, I am someone who LOVES seats by the windows, because I can watch the world go by while chilling in a corner.
Before you think: STARBUCKS? WHY? It’s not even a traditional Japanese brand! Indeed it isn’t, however there are certain items in the menu that are specially developed to target the Japanese community, and I wanted to give it a try. I ordered a cup of yuzu hibiscus tea and it was lovely. The tea was sweet (but you could probably ask for lesser syrup) with a distinct tartness, coupled with light floral tones and bits of yuzu pulp. Sipping on my tea, and once again reading my book was how I spent the rest of the evening, ending my fifth day in a slow-paced leisurely setting.