Japan whips itself into a shopping frenzy on the last couple of days of the year. Shops are packed, prices are hiked, lines are long, tempers are short. I would just as happily stay home and eat canned soup, but we were invited to a New Years party, and I was asked to teach the ladies how to make guacamole, so I had to get the avocados. They also requested a cake, and since cake here is invariably yellow sponge with whipped cream frosting, I decided to go all American and make a chocolate fudge cake with butter cream frosting. For this I need shortening, not something I ever buy. Little did I anticipate that this would require visits to at least six different stores. Halfway through, I nearly burst into tears at Seiyu as yet another old lady whacked me with her purse, another kid stepped on my toes and another shopping cart hit me in the small of the back.
Something is changing here. Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety, but people used to be more polite, even to the point of being annoying. Someone would bump into me. A nod and a “Sorry” should have been enough but it would take a long string of apologies and ample bowing to get past the moment. Now, more often than not, people bash into me and pretend that nothing happened. It’s not like France where people apologize first and then bash into you. It’s more like people are just oblivious to others. Maybe it has something to do with being so focused on their Smartphones that they’ve forgotten to watch where they’re going, or even that other people exist at all. I’m tempted to start wearing big hats and muttering to myself so people will think I’m nuts and try to avoid me.
Seiyu has become a very weird place, by the way, since it teamed up with Walmart a couple of years ago. Now it’s laid out like a Walmart, but the shelves are lined with mirin and dashi and katsuobushi and all the other makings of a typical Japanese meal. There’s no real cheese and only Kewpie mayonnaise, which is tasty but just won’t do for tuna salad. I’ve gotten used to the Walmart look, but it was very creepy at first.
Thousands of brownie points are raining down on Summit,where I finally found the shortening. Even after all these years, it still strikes me when something so mundane can be so hard to find. But now I’m home again, I’ve got my shortening and avocados and am safely ensconced in my ratty old sweats.
Bring on the new year. I’m ready for it.