Sunday, January 28, 2007

Adventures at the mall

Today was Mama's day out. Well, Mama's 2 hours out, but still.

I had to get a few articles of clothing, so I ventured out to the mall. Now, this isn't just any mall. This is the third largest mall in the U.S. It has 4 stories, over 400 stores, an ice rink, and a ferris wheel. Inside the building.


I'm not a big fan of malls. They are usually crowded, noisy, and overwhelming to the senses. Not to mention being huge temples of materialism! But in this case the only location for a shop I needed was in the big mall. I've tried catalog ordering but for clothing I often have terrible luck getting correct sizes. So, off I went to try things on.

The clothes shopping went pretty smoothly for once, and I had planned on going to a craft store before heading home. As I got off the escalator on the third floor, I saw it and all my plans changed.

There was a Books Kinokuniya.

I had been to the store in San Francisco's Japantown several times. It was a wonderland of Japanese paper products, enormous loads of mechanical pencils and gel pens, and books. I remember it as an interesting glimpse into Japanese culture: beautiful washi paper alongside plastic Hello Kitty stuff.


Well, the West Nyack Kinokuniya was all that, and more. The juxtapositions were even more jarring: beautiful books about sushi and ikebana alongside manga and amigurumi. I love manga just for the titles: All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Fruits Basket, and the ever-popular Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II. And the oddest of all: Japanese women's magazines with Italian names. Oggi and Domani. Today and Tomorrow. I...don't...get...it.


Needless to say, I did not make it to the craft store. I got sucked into the children's books section (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in Kanji!), of course the writing implements (sorely inferior the S.F. store) and the books (very weird crochet diagrams).

5 comments:

Helen said...

This is such a coincidence. I was just talking about the children's department of Books Kinokuniya to my friend (I intend to make a trip there soon - perhaps I'd better take money...!)

Kinokuniya was my favourite shop when I lived in Japan. This is a sad admission but I used to travel 1.5 hours across Nagoya on a Sunday to go to a particular church... because it was next to a Kinokuniya stationery store. I'm just so holy! I probably spent longer in that shop after the mass than I did in the church.

I bought a colouring book version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar for Kiko last year. I'll only have to keep it for him for... oh, about five years! I couldn't resist it, though. What is it about bookshops?

Henitsirk said...

When I was searching Flicr for photos to use on this post, I found a whole bunch from a Neil Gaiman signing at the Sydney store. Must be a bigger one than mine!

I've always been interested in Japanese culture (must have been that Shogun miniseries). Certainly I'm a big fan of the food (I made seaweed salad & carrot sushi rolls, and green beans with miso-tahini sauce, for dinner tonight!), the textiles, origami, etc. The fascination for juvenile stuff like Hello Kitty is a little boggling though.

Two of my favorite travel books are about Japan: Roads to Sata by Alan Booth, and A Far Village by Brian Moeran. They both underscore the difficulties of always being an outsider to Japanese culture.

healingmagichands said...

I love book stores, and we are sorely lacking in them in this town. We have the Bible Book store, which is great if you are looking for a source for every obscure Bible and commentary ever published. And we have a small book store that features best sellers and the local book club selections. They are happy to order you any book you are interested in, but browsing is not very satisfactory there.

San Francisco was a great place to book shop.

Well, I have to admit, that of all the things you touched on in Books Kinokuniya, the paper was what grabbed my attention first. I love paper. I have an extensive collection of it that I use to make art cards with. I have spent some real quality hours with young friends of mine engaging in that activity.

I hate malls too.

(un)relaxeddad said...

Oh...my...God. That mall cannot be real! One of these days, I must put the rest of my Japan photos up on my Flickr account. One of our minor adventures was Karaoke in a private room in a massive Hello Kitty themed karaoke palace in Hiroshima.

There's a whole genre of disappointed-embittered-gaijin travel books, isn't there? One of my favourites is 'Angry White Pyjamas' by a poet who put himself through the Tokyo Riot Police Aikido course. Utterly insane thing to do!

Henitsirk said...

Healingmagichands: paper is one thing I have to steel myself not to get into. I could go wild, and I have enough craft stuff as it is. They had origami paper with those wonderful traditional white and indigo designs...I was strong, I didn't buy any!

(un)relaxeddad: the scary thing is, that's not the biggest mall in the US. The Mall of America in Minnesota has two roller coasters, an aquarium and a wedding chapel! Good old American "bigger = better" I guess.

Alan Booth amused me because while he had a healthy dislike for many parts of modern Japanese culture, he was still clearly in love with the place. And anyone who can walk that far gets a few points. The Moeran book was even more negative, for good reason, but interesting since he is an anthropologist trying to remain objective.