11 May 2008

The Ginza Experience

Well, if I wasn't sure I was in a foreign country, I know it now. We have been spoiled on base because the majority of the Japanese folks we see speak English pretty well and getting what you need is fairly easy.

As I said in the quick post this morning, we were planning on taking a taxi to the Ginza. We did this in the early afternoon and discovered the Ginza is similar to a giant, and I mean GIANT strip mall, but much nicer.

The Ginza, or as its known officially, the Sasebo Yonka-cho Shopping Mall(Yonka-cho means "Four Cities", as it has four distinct sections) is almost a full kilometer in length. There is so much to see, we must have walked it three or four full times, giving us near three miles of walking today.

There are so many shops, as they range from the size of a small room, to a large McDonald's. They coincidentally had a McDonald's, and a Starbucks.

I did find a computer store, but surprisingly, there was only one, and I look forward to getting back to look at it when I have more time. Also, I plan to methodically go into each and every store to look at everything.

There are also 100-yen stores, which are equivalent to a Dollar Store, but the stuff is way better quality than Dollar Store stuff. Its closer to Wal-Mart quality I would say.

There are several watch and jewelery shops also. I am in the market for a watch, but I'm not up to spending 33,000 yen ($3300.00) on a Tag Heuer that will only get scratched up on the ship. Most of the shops had fairly high quality (and high priced) stuff in them, and I would go shopping there again.

The customer service trend of Japan was continued with the vendors, they were all friendly and helpful. Its not that I expect this to change, but I'm still getting used to everyone being this way. With the service being so good here, and tipping considered as rude, when we get back to the states, nobody is getting a tip, because I've never gotten this level of service in America, and I'm expected to tip, no way. They are proud of their jobs here, and don't need any extra to make themselves feel good. We need to get the American service industry into this, because when tips are expected, but the service doesn't reflect it, whats the point?

Anyway, our trip today was fun, the Ginza is cool, and I can't wait to get back. Tomorrow we go to our housing brief and get put on the list for a home, and I'm really hoping we get a house near Main Base, which would be walking distance to the Ginza and the base itself. We'll see how that goes. Also, starting Tuesday, we have our Indoctrination class, which teaches us about Japan and the base, we'll go on tours, and get started on our Japanese Driver's Licenses.

That will be all for today, we are beat, will post more later.

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