There are some American things that Japan has adopted that they do so much better. The "Dollar Store" for example. Hyaku En Shops, 100 Yen Shops, are popping up all over Japan. And unlike the US dollar stores, everything in the Hyaku En store really is only 100 Yen. Everything. Not just some of the items. Every item. At the checkout ... they count the number of items, not individual prices.
I had my first experience with one on my last visit to Japan, 2 years ago. At the time I was impressed with the wide selection and quality of things I saw, but since I wasn't "living" here, I really didn't need much. This time is different. Although, this apartment is quite spacious and comfortable, it's not well equipped for someone who likes to cook, and certainly not for someone who is as much of a fussbudget in the kitchen as I am.
Fortunately for me, there is a HyakuEn Shop two short blocks from my apartment building. It's about the size of a one car garage, with narrow aisles between shelves bulging with household items, stationery, tools, cleaning supplies, beach supplies, sandals, batteries ... and on and one. Nirvana.
First order of business ... a teapot! Can you believe a furnished apartment in Japan that didn't have a teapot? What were they thinking? A teapot is a necessity ... especially since I had paid a small fortune to ship a bunch of my favorite herbal and decaf teas to myself before I left. They are hard to find here, come in very small packages, and are very expensive.
I found this charming blue ceramic teapot (with strainer) and a matching cup. I also found a "happy" jar to keep some of my tea in, a ceramic spoon to scoop it into the put, and a small bowl to put used strainer. in. Total: 500 Yen.
Oh, by the way ... the background in those pictures is one of the sturdy bamboo place mats I also bought at the HyakuEn Shop. Another 200 Yen. Need two ... in case I ever had company here.
And then there were a variety of other items that made the place more functional ... hangers, 3 for 100 Yen, storage containers for kitchen and bath, an extension cord so I could move the floor lamp (I've done a little rearranging), and a variety of utensils and kitchen gadgets ... maybe not all necessary, but as I said, this kitchen was sparsely equipped. And I'm going to be here long enough to make it worthwhile. Besides, most of these items will come home with me. Their quality is amazing for 100 Yen.
Some of the things I bought ... A timer (on left), hard to tell from this picture but it has large numbers so I didn't have to grab my glasses to read it; In the middle, a small SHARP paring knife (came in pink and blue too! The only good knife that was here in the kitchen is a square bladed chef's knife ... and as my house sitter can attest ... good knives are the heart of my kitchen, be good to them!); and a pair of scissors. The ones that Shoko and I had found in the kitchen drawer weren't sharp enough to cut butter. Since everything you buy in Japan comes packaged in at least one layer of plastic, a good pair of scissors is a must.
And then there are the things that were just fun ... The group on the left include a wooden tea spoon ... not rough wood, but fine polished wood, the white thing make butter curls, and the spoon with the holes it in is great for lifting something like an egg out of boiling water. The orange thing ... can you guess? It has to do with eggs. And of course, it's hot in Japan in the summer so one must have a fan. And as you know, I am a big fan of Minions. ... it was only 100 Yen!
Time to go make myself some tea in that lovely pot!