As you may know, I live in Tokyo now, and that means we don’t have a car! In a city like this, there’s no need for one because of the excellent public transportation, and to be honest, there aren’t many inexpensive places to park the things. Not to mention, the streets in neighborhoods are relatively narrow and I’ve never been good in cars in tight spaces.
But this also means that most often, delivery is either free or inexpensive. And common. Apparently, so are car rentals.
Enter: my trip(s) to IKEA.
My boyfriend and I had been TRYING to do this thing where we buy all of the things we need from Japanese home stores, and go 100% Japanese, but a can opener changed all that. Yes, a can opener.
In Germany, there was this funny joke that even though the Germans have an amazing economy and social healthcare and great trains and transportation, they were still somehow ’10 years behind’ when it came to things like shopping online, paying with credit cards, and so on.
I couldn’t go to most stores and Germany and pay with my credit or check cards. Couldn’t pay any bills online. Had to actually fill out a bank transfer form, on actual paper, if I wanted to transfer money (whether domestically or to my US account). And then wait 3 days after dropping it off at the bank.
They didn’t even have Netflix! Lovefilm.de was JUST getting started. Germany is where I learned about streaming films online and iTunes rentals.
This is the exact issue I found myself dealing with in my search for a can opener. Because in Japan, THIS obnoxious thing to my left is what ALL of the stores were selling.
Have you ever tried to use one of these things? I know they’re meta and will never break, and are probably good in a zombie apocalypse, but in modern Asia, they hurt my dainty American hands. My boyfriend was automatically put in charge of opening cans, and he hated to use the one I’d bought, too.
And the same thing happened with a garlic press, which I desperately needed. Because, Italian marinara sauce.
I knew where I could find these things, and it was only a 45 minute train ride away. So I got my backpack and made a list, and got on the train to go to Ikea.
I know this completely breaks the rule of buying Japanese things, but let’s be honest with ourselves, here: there are TWO Ikeas in Tokyo, and countless McDonald’s and KFCs. Even Japan doesn’t seem to feel the need to buy 100% Japanese, so why should I? I’ve used the Ikea garlic press and can opener since I had my own apartment(s). Why change that, if Ikea exists? So off to Ikea I went, on my day off, while the boyfriend was at work, since he hates going to Ikea.
I had gone with the intention of getting things delivered, but I also went with a budget in my head of what I wanted to spend. There were a few larger items that I wanted, that would need to be delivered… but all of the things I actually NEEDED would fit in my backpack (I thought) and make for a rough walk home. I went fully prepared for that.
The train ride is 2 changes and about 45 minutes. It’s long, for Tokyo. But I was on my own and didn’t mind too much. I was going to get a REAL can opener and garlic press and I had the day to myself, what did I care?
So I went, with a list, a backpack, a few reusable shopping bags, and a plan.
I made sure to cross every item I put in off my list. I also kept a running tab on the calculator on my iPhone to make sure I wouldn’t go overbudget and have to use my card. I took photos of the things I WANTED, but would have to get delivered.
This Ikea is brand new and different than any Ikea I’ve ever seen: the entire sales floor is on ONE floor rather than the normal 2, and somehow still arranged in the same way. Which is confusing. But whatever. I made sure to use one of the big Ikea bags to actually carry everything I’d buy through the store with me, so I remained aware of how much it all weighed. I did this just until the end, when it all got a bit heavy and the store was too congested for me to go quickly through. Then I got a cart to relax before my huge trip back home.
I completely gave up on the idea of delivery when I did the math and realized I’d go overbudget on the bigger things, and took photos of them instead to show the boyfriend. That meant I would certainly be carrying all of it home with me.
My final purchase consisted of:
~ a wooden knife block
~ 9 knives (we were in serious need of a damn bread knife): 3 for cooking, 6 for eating steak
~ 2 glass mixing bowls
~ 1 garlic press
~ 1 can opener
~ that plastic cylinder that holds all of your plastic bags
~ 1 knife sharpener
~ 2 pairs of men’s slippers
~ 1 tea kettle (glass)
~ 2 wash cloths
~ 1 reading lamp
~ 2 magazine racks
~ 1 medium sauce pot
~ and some other things that I can’t remember at the moment
It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it filled my backpack AND an Ikea bag that I had to buy. It ended up weighing something close to 40 pounds. I blame the knife block. That is one solid piece of wood.
It was already getting to be too much as I carried it through the store, and thankfully, even though it was heavy, I made it home ok. There was a LOT of walking between the shop and the train station, and my overachieving ass ALSO stopped at a LOFT (which is a Japanese home store) to get the things I couldn’t get at Ikea, which added to the weight I had on my back. Thankfully, I tossed those things into the Ikea bag and was on my way.
The entire commute from door-to-door takes about 1.5 hours. The trains are 45 minutes altogether, but then you have to change trains and walk through crowded stations, up and down stairs, to get to the next train. So I had to lug the stuff I’d bought for a good 45 minutes between trains, in order to get it home.
This really turned into a serious workout and tested my endurance. You really can’t stop or quit when you HAVE to get these things home. There isn’t really a turning back point.
So if you want a good, adult workout: ditch the car and carry everything you buy back on public transportation. It’s sure to be a long workout.