I just stepped off the plane from Japan yesterday and am still recovering from the long flight -- tiny seats, lots of crying babies. For those not in the know, partner and I have been travelling around Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka for the past two weeks. It was a spur of the moment decision and we nearly didn't get our visas approved in time.
Tokyo is the best place for shopping but I decided not to buy anything there. We were travelling by train from city to city and relying on public transport so I didn't want my bag to be too heavy. We had stopped in Malaysia for a week before that and I had to beg the parents not give me anything as we were trying to travel light. Does anyone else's parents do this to them?
There are also other reasons why my haul is so small but I'll get into that later.Two weeks ago, I asked for recommendations of what to buy in Japan and everyone told me to just go to Matsumoto Kiyoshi. Holy, but that place is HUGE and EVERYWHERE. After our second day in Japan, Mr. A. was convinced that there was one on every corner. In Shibuya, there are two Matsumoto Kiyoshi outlets just four shops away from each other. I actually thought that I was seeing things at first.
Matsumoto Kiyoshi is like Watsons, Guardian or Priceline, only 3 times larger and Japanese. Most of the ones I saw had at least 2 floors and products were crammed into every nook and cranny. Not all of them stock the same things as Astalift (the red products in the picture) and other premium brands are only stocked in larger outlets in upmarket or popular shopping areas.
Tine commented in my last post that kombinis, or convenience stores, carried affordable makeup lines and she was right! I forgot what brands 7-11 and Family Mart stocked, probably Canmake, but Lawsons has the cutest line of Shiseido makeup products on offer. I was tempted to get a Shiseido eyeshadow palette for around 1,500 JPY but talked myself out of it in the end as I rarely use makeup these days.
If you are the type who enjoys buying travel packs to try out different products, then drop into as many convenience stores and pharmacies as you can. Lawsons stocks DHC while Family Mart offers Hada Labo. Oddly enough, some Family Mart outlets also sell Muji skincare products.
I only bought skincare products and even then, it wasn't much. Top of my drugstore list was Kose Softymo White Cleansing Oil. Kahani has raved about the Speedy version before. While cleansing oils and I aren't exactly the best of friends, I decided to give it another try as people with dry skin have written positive reviews on it.
Astalift was the other item on my list as it isn't easily available outside of Japan. I think that you can get it in Singapore and they have a Malaysian website but it definitely isn't available in Australia. The Astralift Jelly Aquarysta got so many raves last year, I had to check it out. A jar costs a whooping 9,450 JPY though so I bought a trial pack from Matsumoto to test it out first while I was in Kyoto. All of the little red containers and foil packets in the picture were part of the trial set. There were packets of the Jelly and Moisture Foam but I had finished using them by the end of the trip. Full review to come later but I would say that the Jelly Aquarysta seems promising.
The other two items in the picture aren't beauty-related. Well, the pocket mirror sort of is. The design is engraved using copper-tooling and then gilded with different colours. I actually have several similar pocket mirrors gifted by Japanese family friends but they either broke or have gone missing over the years. I bought this particular one from Kinkakuji. I read Mishima Yukio's Temple of the Golden Pavillion years ago in college so it was fascinating for me to stand in the temple grounds and recreate the events in my head.
Funny story here. Partner and I had half a day to kill in Osaka before our evening flight so we decided to stop over in Rinku Town on the way to the airport. We stuffed our bags in a locker and wandered around until we came across a game machine which had this pushie as a prize.
"I want Nyanko sensei!" I told him half seriously.
He played. And I got Nyanko! As we still had coins left over, we ended up going after a One Piece figurine which we got after a few tries. In hindsight, the game was quite easy and we should have gone for the Nintendo 3DS and takoyaki machine as well.
Nyanko-sensei was too big to squeeze into our bags so I had to carry him around the place like a 6 year old. Everyone, from the tiny 4 years olds to the sales girls and immigration/ customs officials, were pointing and squealing: "Aah! Nyanko-sensei! Kawaii~~" Some asked where did we get him from and petted his head.
The next time I visit Japan, Nyanko is coming along too.