Sadly, on this trip our exposure to Japan was limited to the Tokyo airport. But we milked everything we could out of the experience, as you may have guessed.
As we got of the plane (a welcome stretch of the legs after over eight hours in less-than-comfortable seats), we made a beeline for something; anything. Knowing we had to re-embark in half an hour, we were on the clock to squeeze every little bit of culture we could out of the airport.
What’s this? An orange hamster-like cartoon character selling distilled water? That’s cool.
And the bathrooms? I couldn’t find the maze of electronic switches for sound effects and bidet settings I had heard about, but I did find a squat toilet and an ultra-violet hand dryer. Check.
And the concession stands? Gold mine!
Garlic in a bag, marinated in miso and bright pink stuff. “Wacky Wacky” snacks that smack of Pocky. Seaweed-wrapped mystery foods, udon soups, designer duty-free items galore, and….sweets.
Ah, blessed Japanese sweets. Rows and rows of unidentifiable sugary goodness. Some labels had spotty English descriptions or ingredients, revealing to me an entire world of desserts I had no idea existed.
My favourite was green tea mochi-like balls filled with brown stuff (red bean maybe?), made with “minus ion water”. Sounds healthy in a sugary kind of way.
Racing through the busy store muttering what few Japanese words we could muster, we desperately tried to recall the exchange rate between Japanese Yen and Canadian Dollars. We were keenly aware of being on the clock as we maniacally sifted through box after box of candies. We finally settled on one that was only 500yen (we had no idea how much that was but in comparison to some of its neighbours it seemed to be a good deal (which turned out to be about $5). We had no idea what it actually was, but it appeared to have strawberry and chocolate flavours and have a rice-paste wrapper of sorts.
Check out this video for the verdict…