Tag Archives: Shopping

Towada-shi Japan 十和田市

This past Saturday we finally decided to take a trek out to a town that we hear about all the time and had been wanting to visit since we moved here almost 1 year ago. Not sure what has stopped us. I think sometimes it is the unknown, especially in another country. We took the plunge and I am glad we did!

It was a gorgeous day. A bright crispy blue sky, wispy white clouds scattered about and a very bright, warm sun! A perfect day for exploration. The directions I had were short & to the point. I sometimes worry with such easy directions, especially here in Japan. I expect one of these days we will get lost, maybe not though.

It was a pretty straight shot there. For those of you here in Misawa or any newcomers, I will post the directions for you at the end of the post. What draws most of us to Towada is shopping, I think most places here draw me to them for either shopping or eating. The big draw that you hear everyone talk about is a store called “Hard-Off”. Okay, go ahead…chuckle, everyone does, including myself. It is odd but anything here that is translated from Japanese into English may cause one to laugh.

It essentially is a second hand store, a fairly big one with just about anything in it you could think up. It was fun to walk around and look at everything. We did not purchase anything, although I almost did. You must know by now how much I love frogs…it was a pocket watch and had a frog chain of sorts attached to it. It was kawaii (cute)!

You could spend hours alone in the electronic section, goodness they had all kinds of stuff. I think my favorite area would be the house stuff like all the plates, cups, you know..ceramics. I love all the Japanese designs. You can just as easily go to the 100 Yen store and purchase brand new stuff like that if you don’t like using second hand items like that.

The next stop was a store next door to the Hard Off, it was called “WonderGoo”. I have no clue what the translation would or could be. Essentially it is a electronic store on one side and a book store on the other and a small area with cosmetics, all of this store is new stuff. We did not stay in there to long, it was hot and stuffy and had many of the same items we see daily at other stores.

The next stop was Homac, almost like a Wal*Mart and they seem to be everywhere. Each one seems to carry just a little different inventory and I like to see what they have. We were looking for some specific items which I will talk about another time. It was a nice little adventure and only took about 35 minutes to get there and we did not take any toll roads.

Oh, on our way there, we could see the snow capped mountains, it was breathtaking. I did not have my good camera on me, only my iPodTouch and we will most definitely go that way again and hopefully I will get some great shots of them.


Leave from the POL gate. Go straight toward Towanda. You will turn left at a Y intersection, where the railway is turning left too, so follow the railroad track. Before you turn left, you will see the Hard-Off store in front of you. Once you turn left, Hard-Off is on your right side and the train station will be on your left side.


Queen’s Pastel

Oh, Hey! I hope you are still out there. I am still here. Life happens and exploring happens too! I love exploring Japan when opportunity presents itself. Sometimes you just get to comfortable in this beautifully cold winter and you tend to not roam outside the gates to much. We thought it was high time we headed beyond those gates and see what was out there. There was snow, of course! They don’t plow the roads out in town so that can spell danger after a fresh snow but we headed out when the roads were sloshy.

We decided to go to the 2 malls out in Hachinohe. As we traveled farther away from base, there was less & less snow to be seen which was odd to us since we were getting closer to the mountains. There was a nice chill in the air. Driving is slow here, to slow for my American liking. I am not saying I or we are speed demons at all as I HATE speeding but travel is much slower here.

We ended up at several stores, one very important one, which will be talked about another day, in another post. However, in this post I will talk about one of my most favorite stores I’ve found thus far…Queen’s Pastel. I’ve briefly mentioned it in a post before, months ago, the first time we went. Daniel bought me a few Christmas gifts from there. I really love this store. It is super girly with huge French influence, something common here in Japan, not so much the girly part as much as lot’s of French influence.

A big thing here is growing your own plants/flowers/food, in pots of all shapes and sizes. The first time I went I fell in love with all the mini pots and how “fun” they are. So, while there today, I indulged in buying myself 3 different little pot’s of plants. I can not wait to start watering them and enjoy them.

We also ended up at Toys R Us, my first time there. Reminds me of anyone in the USA but a bit cooler with tons of stuff you will never see or find stateside. We ended our day out at Universe looking for some yummy Japanese Italian Bread, yeah…figure that one out!

Here is what I purchased from Queen’s Pastel:

This Is The Cutest Potted Potato Plant!

All I Know Is It Is A “Little Garden”.

This Is A Cute Thingy That Looks To Be A Pig & When You Water It, It Will Grow Grass Hair,lol!


Some Kind Of Friday

This month has really flown by! I am okay with that as November is a month I want to skip by and get right to December, or at least skip most of November…up till Thanksgiving. Then the real fun begins!

We went to what I would never-ever consider a Black Friday here on well…Black Friday. I mean the shopping is not so great when your choice is 1 store & it’s the only place everyone on base will be at,ha!

It was a joke really. I know I should not complain for many reasons but this is my blog & my life, so I will talk about what I want, guilt free! We woke up at 4am. We got over to the BX sometime between 5-6 and there were 2 lines.

Let me tell you, it was somewhat of an effing head ache trying to decide where and what line one should be in. It was not very clear, the signs, nor the manager. We were coming for 3 specific items and then anything else would be a bonus.

We were told people here are brutal and mean. I would guess so, having only 1 store. I honestly expect more from military members and their spouses, but maybe that is expecting to much. We were told the closer it got to open time that people would gather in the middle and just show up and push in.

NOT THIS TIME. The new manager and security did a wonderful job. All those people who thought they could just show up, had to wait till those who waited for hours got to enter first. There was a little shoving and a few people smashed into me, I just gave a nasty little glare.

Daniel & I had a plan. I was to be the one with the cart while he took off past everyone who had carts and so while they were trying to get there, I was walking all calm and slow and not phased by much. I knew I’d reach Daniel & he would be waiting for the cart.

The biggest pain in the arse was waiting in the line in the electronics department to buy part of our stuff. Also, we did not get one of the software deals because people are hoarders around this place and I saw people with 3 copies at a time…No wonder we did not get one.

I was bummed with the whole thing. It is not our average or normal Black Friday. Of course I knew this, moving here, things would be very different. I can except that but it does not change the fact that I know what I like & enjoy.

After that we headed to the E-club. They boasted some sort of sales thing going on with Japanese vendors as well. It really was bunk, not worth going to outside of the fact that we got the dogs some great stuff, from a table set up by the Kennel. Major disappointment.

So as it stands, about 99% of our Christmas shopping has been done online this year & I miss real stores,lol. So, did you partake in the crazy Black Friday fun wherever you live or have you opted to stay home and order online?



Let It Begin!

You’ve got to love the internet here in Japan, it is spotty but I have less issues with it then I do with my cable, but I expect both but it is an inconvenience. I’ve been wanting to post about the Salmon Festival from over the weekend, but YouTube is being a bitch and taking forever. So until then, it will have to wait!

It is November 1st, it is now officially “my” start of the Christmas season. Please don’t gasp so loud! There is no happier time than during the holidays, whether family is around or not! Being away from everyone for so long, the holidays are easier but of course I still long to celebrate with them.

Still trying to figure out what we want to do for Thanksgiving, not like we have to many choices and for years it’s just been the two of us and our pups. Last year, much of the day was spent at work, Daniel’s shop that is. I am really hoping that is not the case this year, as long as everyone behaves and acts like an adult.

This week I’ll be going through our movie collection and pulling out all the Christmas ones and making a log of the title and then a total of how many. Crazy much? Honestly I love watching Christmas movies. Although we always wait till Thanksgiving or the day after. That is also when we decorate for Christmas.

I have no idea when the real Christmas tree’s get shipped in, so whenever that happens, we will then decorate the house as well. I am so looking forward to snow!!!!!!! I can hear all New Englanders yelling at me right now! HUSH!!!! I’ve been without snow for years and if you have been following my blog for the last 4 years, you know how much you’ve heard about my lack of snow too!

I am excited. It makes me feel all happy & giggly inside, like a little girl! Seriously. There is only one thing I do hate about the snow….that I have to take my dogs out in it to potty. They are not snow creatures. My beauties are from the south. They know heat & AC. The one or two times we’ve visited family in snow weather it has been nothing short of a circus getting them to potty in it. I have no yard, so they better figure it out quick,lol.

It is supposed to be around 32 Friday morning but I think it is still a tad to early to think it might snow, who knows though…it could happen. We even have our love-seat positioned such that when it snows, we can see right out our balcony and watch it snow. Yup, we are those snow people!

Sorry, I guess I could very well talk about snow or Christmas for hours. I am really looking forward to both! Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? 53 more days!!!!!!!!!!!!


Far East Bazaar

Over this past weekend, on Saturday & Sunday there was all kinds of excitement about the “Far East Bazaar”! I’d only heard about it of course, there was talk of furniture, trinkets, things from all over the far East including Russia & the Philippines.

We were not sure what to expect but hoped to find a treasure or two. We did, errrr…I did,lol. Several of the wonderful things I found, I can’t talk about as they are gifts and surprises and I don’t want to give any of that away!

The one purchase I can talk about is a Washi Doll that I absolutely loved. When I saw the table my eyes twinkled in delight! I already LOVE Kokeshi Dolls but have been looking for this type of Washi Doll since we arrived here.

I found out from another lady who lives here in Misawa that there is only 1 woman left in Japan that makes these type of Washi Dolls and I did not even realize I got to meet the woman! Her name is Eiko Ohyama, she is 73 years old. I am so thrilled to have a piece of her work & she also signed it.

Each Washi Doll she creates is all made with paper & tells a story of sorts by what the doll is doing or holding, it could be working or play. If you would like to read more about this woman or the dolls she makes you can find it HERE.

It was nice to walk around and look at all the stuff. There was some really nice items and some things that were mass produced. I tend to stay away from mass produced things here, we are in Japan after all and I tend to look for unique things.

We have been wanting a step Tansu and decided we will start saving & purchase one before we leave here. They are so beautiful and a great thing to put out collections on, like Washi Dolls or Kokeshi Dolls :)

It was a very nice start to the Christmas shopping season, yes…I did say Christmas!!!

Here is the Washi Doll we purchased.


139 Days

Am I the only one already thinking about Christmas? Yes, I said Christmas, my most favorite time of the year…It’s different this year, way different as we are living in Japan. We have stores here but nothing like the states.

I’m thinking about it already due to the fact that I am pretty much going to have to do 99% of my shopping online, and shipping overseas takes time, sometimes a VERY long time. So today Daniel asked me what I wanted for Christmas….I have some ideas. I also asked him as we will have to start shopping soon.

Don’t get me wrong, there a few shops that I am sure we will buy a thing or two from, off base. I expect there to be NOTHING available here on base at the BX. As it is, they are out of a lot of normal, everyday stuff, all the time.

You may think I’m crazy, thinking about Christmas so early but then you most likely live in the states and have all kinds of stores open all kinds of hours too. Sometimes I miss that, most times it does not bother me anymore. It’s amazing how much you can & do adjust to after a few months.


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

In our 26 days living in Misawa, we have found out that if you want to buy something, especially at the BX, buy it when you see it because the next time you come it most likely wont be there anymore. Even if you come back an hour later, odds are it is sold already!

Since day 1 we have been looking for bikes. I’m honestly not sure on any given day how many they have or how many different choices there might be, for men or women. I was wanting a bike with a basket on the front & back. I’ve not seen one that I’ve really wanted just yet & I might have to just order online.

When we first moved here, there were many grills. We were living at the hotel, so we were not about to buy a grill before we had the house. Well, all of a sudden the grills were gone, only one $400 one available. We’ve gone in almost daily, hoping they had got more in. No luck until yesterday. We went later in the evening. They were gearing up for the 4th of July sale.

I figured of we did not find one now, it might be end of summer before they have enough stock. We got lucky. They had 2 grills in the price range we were willing to spend. We snatched it up. No waiting, anymore. If I want or need something, I will buy it then and there!

We now have the grill but no propane…YUP. They ran out of tanks, no tanks, no propane. So we have a shiny new grill out on our balcony but we can not use it. Go figure. So the daily search for bikes and propane is on. The BX has been out of so much stuff, including pillows!

Today we went back to the BX, the grill we bought was going on sale today, so to get the price adjusted we had to go in and it ended up being a little bit of a pain for 10 bucks, but money is money. Still no propane. They have been out of microwaves too, so we check every once in a while, as they said maybe by July 10th.

Luckily they had 3 in. We snatched it up. If not it could have been a long while till we saw them again and we have learned…Here today, gone tomorrow. We are now also on the search for blackout curtains. We went out in town to buy them and they are SUPER expensive. I just tried to buy some off of JC Penny only to find the ones we want are out of stock, of course. Amazon, I have to look deeper as reading reviews, people are saying most of the blackout curtains are not actually blackouts. Since the sun starts rising at 3:30am we NEED blackout curtains, so the search goes on.

Things were quiet today, no earthquakes. I always expect them but glad when a day goes by with nothing. Exercises on base are now over too, so sirens are not going off 24/7, so things in general are a bit quieter on base. If only I could sleep! I can’t wait for our stuff to get here, any week now and home should really feel like our home!


Sanwado, Misawa Japan

We are now taking small adventures off base with our car. Daniel driving of course.My practice comes this week, in parking lots of course, till I get more comfortable. There is a stre here, it is called “Sanwado”. It is the Walmart of Japan. It is owned by Walmart & will have an American flag outside it’s stores.

You will find things here though that you will never see in the states. We tried finding Sanwado the other day. It’s odd trying to follow directions and all directions are marked by buildings, stores, or places to eat at due to the fact that most roads don’t have names & if they do they are in Japanese!

So I got on the internet and found directions from an American who used to live here in Misawa. We headed out the gate and got a little “lost” and turned around but it was fun and there is so much to see just driving around. Shortly after we found it.

It is interesting walking up and down the isles of stores here, you never know what you will find or what odd silly saying you will find on items due to odd translations. So I took some pictures of interesting things we found during our visit. I am sure we will be back to actually purchase some items in the near future. They do have everything you need & then some things you don’t!

Here Is The Front Of The Store.

Not How Our DVD Players Usually Are, But I Like It!

In Need Of Colorful Light Bulbs? Get Them Here!

Want To Get Rid Of Pesky Flies? This Should Work??

On The Bottom It Says “Let’s Enjoy To Magnet With Your Friends”!

I Have No Idea What An “Angel Buzzer” Is Or What It Does!

They Do “Lovery” Disney Here In Japan, They Especially “Lovery Minnie”!

They Love Pets Here, Especially Dogs! Isles & Isles Of Clothes, Food & Toys!

Sometimes The Pictures On Products Are Amusing, Like This One!

We Are Assuming This Sign Is Telling YOU To Think Twice About Stealing, But We Could Be So Wrong Too!


Trip To Shimoda Mall

This morning our friend Snow picked us up to do brunch at the club here on base. It was wonderful! I filled up on pancakes & sweet-tea, yum!! It was nice to try the place out and I’m sure we will go back again sometime. What I’m really looking forward to is cooking again!

After brunch Snow suggested heading to the Shimoda Mall, about a 25 minute drive from base, but honestly it only felt like a few short minutes & it’s a beautiful drive too. You go from “city” to “country” without really noticing.

I’d like to say the Japanese mall is just like every other mall, but really, it is not. I HATE going to malls in the states and I can say I actually enjoyed walking around this mall. There are many clothing stores, the fashion here is so much different from the states.

I tried Japanese ice cream, it was very good and tasted like normal ice cream to me. There is a huge grocery store in the mall, you really can get everything you need in one stop. There is also a dollar store in there and lots of shoe stores and something like a “Spencers”. We also found a HUGE arcade like place, with all the crane games, very cool!

There is also a bowling alley there as well as a movie theatre. I look forward to going back there, there is much more to see there and a few places I’d like to eat at. I had a lot of fun and got to take some pictures. Here are some pictures from our trip to the mall!


The Weekend Dance

Been busy & blah the last few days. Time seemed to have been moving at a snails pace and all of a sudden decided to go at the speed of a road-runner. The weekend was alright. Friday was Daniel’s 34th birthday. Since we are moving our birthday’s are very low scale this year.

We went out to dinner at our favorite Japanese Steak House and had a great time. There was a fun family there with a young girl and boy, the girl was 9 and celebrating her birthday as well. The grill chef we had was wonderful this time, the best we’ve had.

In the evening we watched movies, ate cake & ice cream and just tried to enjoy the night. Yesterday was slow and a shopping day. We’ve had a few shopping days, I forgot we bought some stuff we needed on Friday night too. Yesterday though was focused on shopping for clothes only. It’s not easy to buy clothes in Japan unless you are pretty small, so we had to get clothes. We are set for a while.

Today is our last “movie Sunday”, at least for a while. Tonight we are watching all of the Indian Jones movies, except for the very last, shitty one. Tomorrow starts our last week in this apartment. I’ve got mixed feelings on this but I am excited for what is to come.

It’s been a little stressful and I am still not sleeping well at all at night, eventually maybe, but moving and flying, especially around the world sounds fun, seems fun, but comes with a price too.