Ah, yes, video games. From the childhood joy of pulling the clanging trigger of that orange and gray plastic gun in a round of Duck Hunt to the satisfaction of decimating a horde of badlands bandits in Red Dead Redemption, video games are pure awesome. And shockingly, US import games are readily and cheaply available both online and import stores here in Tokyo, if you know where to look. Of course, this being Japan, the surly proprietors of said shops always glare at me suspiciously if I happen to darken their door, as if it were unbelievable that a girl would buy any other titles than, say, Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups. And when they eventually glean that I am not Japanese nor accompanied by a man-friend (who would surely be the gamer), well! But I win them over with my cold hard cash and cutting, ball-withering glare when they ask me if I'm sure I'm buying the right version for the millionth time.
There are so many sweet games coming out this year, especially in the first quarter. Here are my top picks:
|Dragon Age II, Little Big Planet 2, Bulletstorm, Resistance 3, Mass Effect 2, Killzone 3|
Clothes and Accessories
Shopping in Tokyo is amazing. AMAZING. You can buy almost anything here if you know where to look. Most Tokyoites spend the majority of their time at the office, either working or pretending to work, and a fair number of them live with their parents rent-free until they get married. With an excess of cash and a lack of free time, most of them get their jollies in the maze of departments stores and boutiques that embower every major train station...and I guess I'm no different!
But of course, nothing's perfect. The prices aren't as bad as you might expect, especially for women whose shopping options are endless, and if you are on the smaller side for a Westerner it's easy enough to fit into standard Japanese sizes. For a taste of home, we have The Gap, Banana Republic, Zara (which is a total lifesaver... with my 34" inseam I would never be able to wear jeans or pants in this country without it), and more recently, Forever21, H&M, and even TopShop.
But there are a few stores that I miss, the most dear being Anthropologie. This whimsical boutique-style store is a hit with most fashion bloggers, for good reason. It is by far my favorite clothing retailer...and thus, of course, one of the few stores not present in the Japanese market. There's always online shopping, but international shipping is ludicrously expensive and without the chance to see things in person and try them on, there's always an element of risk. As of now, I only have about 4 pieces from Anthro (3 cardigans, 1 top), but I'm definitely looking forward to being able to shop there more often in the future when I move to Canada.
Hopefully by then, this beauty will FINALLY be on sale. This is the Holy Grail of blousedom. If I were a shirt, I'd be this one. The colors, the foil detail, the ruffled neckline...perfection. The price...$198. WTF?!
Well, at least there are other perfectly nice, and way more affordable, options at Anthro:
Another retailer I like to browse is ModCloth, an online purveyor of vintage-inspired clothes. Some of the stuff is a bit over the top, but some pieces are gorgeous...
Huh... just as I was posting that pic, I saw that there was only one of the cardigan (one of the site's most popular items) left in a M. So I pulled the trigger and bought it. Yup.
Then there's H&M, which I first had the pleasure of encountering when I lived in London to do my Master's. Some of the offerings can be kinda blah, but the pieces I DO like I REALLY like.
And like anyone worth her salt, I love J. Crew. Their skirts and sweaters are especially fantastic. We actually do have one J. Crew here in Tokyo, but it's located way out in a tourist-trap mall and is probably about the size of my kitchen. Worth the time and yen to go out there and be royally disappointed? Don't think so.
Another nice thing about J. Crew is that when their stuff does go on sale they usually offer some amazing discounts. I was able to snag that Traversa cardigan (already significantly discounted) at a further discount in their on-line Xmas sale. Awesome. Can you tell that I love cardigans?
As for that bastion of all things American (not really), The Gap, I can't say that I'm a huge fan. Most American consumers seem to be of a similar view, and the retailer no longer has the clout and appeal it used to. And the recent attempt at a logo change? Epic fail.
The Gap here is much more expensive than back home, and the ones downtown are usually super crowded because Japanese consumers actually like (!) Gap. Yet the occasional visit can turn up some lovely finds.The tweed skirt on the right is probably one of the best items the Gap designers have come up with in years. Flattering on everyone, with clever details and an elegant color palette, I absolutely adore it... actually, I just bought it a few days ago at full price because I couldn't stop thinking about it (I know, kind of defeats the purpose of a wish list). I haven't seen the skirt on other blogs yet, which is surprising, but it's getting a lot of praise over at the Gap site.
Finally, here are the ones that got away. Those gorgeous, heart-stopping items that you'll never get your hands on without trawling eBay or offering up your first-born. I usually come across these beauties on other blogs, long after they've disappeared from the stores. But a girl can dream, can't she?