Today’s post is about happy cars. Japan has the most glee-filled cars per capita of any nation on Earth.
Joyful Honda is the name given to a massive Japanese store which offers shoppers everything from bikes to lumber to groceries to antiques. It’s like the love child of a commune populated by Home Depot, Michaels, PetCo, Kroger, Target and Staples. It’s not far from base, so we chose it as our first trip driving on Japanese roads in our new car. Naturally, I immediately navigated us off of our planned route, but we managed to find it anyway.
Inside, we joined the crowds and were greeted by a woman on a megaphone. She apparently really, really wanted us to give the scissors she was selling a trial run. A cluster of people were standing at her booth doing exactly that, thoughtfully slicing into small scraps of fabric. We passed on that chance only to be accosted around the corner by a man in a pink bunny suit, standing on a platform while shouting through a microphone about shower grout cleaner. At least I think that’s what he was shouting about, judging by the video screen at his booth. I was too distracted by his artfully painted whiskers.
The store is massive. It meanders over two floors, which are accessed by riding up or down a very long, sloped escalator. We navigated our way through a sea of Japanese, browsing through sections selling bikes, fabric, kitchen supplies, outdoor furniture and indoor rugs. We skipped the pet section but many of the customers around us had small dogs tucked into their shopping carts. In the bike shop, Liam had his first experience of being petted by a local. As he sat on one of the bikes, a male clerk approached him with a big smile and kept reaching out to pat his blond hair. Ordinarily, I’d find that kind of interaction a little, um, creepy, but the guy just seemed genuinely happy to meet Liam.
One of the topics I’m hoping to explore with this blog is beauty. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for things the Japanese find beautiful and aspects of the culture here that I find beautiful. As the pictures show, Joyful Honda had fabric for sale in prints quite different from what I’d typically find in Ohio at, say, JoAnn Fabrics. I thought they were gorgeous. I think, based on the displays, that much of what we saw was intended to be used as wrapping paper for gifts, but I’m not sure. Still so very, very much to learn!
We did not leave empty handed. Our home now has Japanese baskets to store our extra toilet paper, a floral welcome mat, and the tiniest of trash cans with the tiny plastic bags to go in it. The clerk who helped us find the latter enthusiastically gave us a friendly mini-lecture in Japanese on the bags to which we could only smile and nod. I can’t begin to imagine what it was he was telling us – he talked for at least a minute — but I very much appreciated his willingness to help the clueless Americans standing in front of him.