April 05, 2007

Japan: Living In Takasaki

A little wiki on Takasaki:

Takasaki (高崎) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. The city was founded on April 1, 1900. Takasaki is a regional transportation hub due to the fact that its train station (Takasaki Station) is the junction of several rail lines as well as a shinkansen stop. The city is famous as the hometown of the Daruma doll, theoretically representing the Buddhist sage Bodhidharma but in modern practice a symbol of good luck.

After the initial excitement when told that I was going to be sent to Japan for training wore off, I was a tad apprehensive of living in Takasaki for what could amount to a year. First of all, it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere (well, it's NOT Tokyo, that's for sure), and I heard that no one speaks English! I remembered rushing to the bookstore to buy a comprehensive Japanese language help book, and was really nervous when I arrived at the city.

Paddy field near my apartment

I got used to living in Takasaki after a month. It was not as bad as I expected; in a way, it was a lot less busy compared to Tokyo. It was a good thing, as I wasn't too overwhelmed by the mad rush of people unlike Tokyo. Language WAS a problem, as a high percentage of Japanese living in Gunma do not speak English. I had to rely heavily on body language to get my messages across (which could get tiring after a while; you try flinging your arms over and over).

Gururin bus

On board the Gururin bus to town

City centre
At the city centre

City centre again
City centre - the Chinese-looking building's actually a Korean restaurant

Still the city centre
Still the city centre

Montres - my favourite shopping centre (with Starbucks on the second floor)

I can't tell you much about the whole Takasaki; my bus route only took me to the station (i.e. city centre) and back. I was apprehensive about hopping onto a bus and exploring the city when my Japanese is too poor to take me around. However, it wasn't too bad, as there were quite a lot of shops near the station which were worth popping by. I love scouring for goodies at Montres and Vivre (these are small shopping centres); you never know what goodies you might find. For a higher class of shopping, there is Takashimaya and Suzuran. These malls house designer brands such as Coach, Tiffany, etc. Places like these belong to the "can see, cannot buy" category.

100-yen shop
100-yen shop

100-yen shops are a dime a dozen in Japan. Most of the items in the 100-yen shops are made in China, but you do get a fair bit which are made in Japan. I absolutely love 100-yen shops (e.g. Daiso and Can Do) because you can get almost anything you want, and for only 100 yen! I'd visit the 100-yen shop whenever I was in town. I reckon that's where the junk in my apartment came from :p

Matsumoto Kiyoshi
Matsumoto Kiyoshi

Another favourite haunt of mine was Matsumoto Kiyoshi, a large drugstore chain in Japan. It's kinda like Watson's, but multiply that by ten. This was where I got my low-end to midrange Shiseido, Kanebo and Kose products. There are other Japanese brands of cosmetics and skincare too. Kate and Kose's Visee are sold quite cheaply here. Like I told Paris, these are likened to 'konbini' brands, i.e. you can also buy 'em at convenience stores at Maybelline-like prices. I love this store; my girly needs and wants are often sated here. Hehe.

I have more to tell of Takasaki, but it's too bad I can't include any more photos, as I took very little. There's a whole lot more to see of the city if you have a car. Unfortunately, I don't, thus my 'adventures' were only centered around the city centre.

I hope to return to Takasaki some day. Even though it's not as happening as Tokyo, I did live there for a year, and that meant a lot to me.


Paris Beaverbanks said...

Waahh.... I wanna go!!! If only just to visit those drugstores :P I need my d/s makeup fix :P:P

Tine said...

Paris: Oooh yeah, I'm VERY sure you'll like the drugstores :P Even better if you go to stores which just sell makeup and skincare stuff, and nothing more. Sweet! :P

MJ said...

When I was working promoting Kose, I heard 2 aunties exclaiming excitedly, "Over in Japan, these are SOOOOOOO cheap!"

If I ever go to Japan, I'd definately get their beauty products :) hehehe

Tine said...

MJ: Yep, you should :) Well, to be fair, they're not really that much cheaper; you definitely get a much wider range of products in Japan. The ones that you can afford in a snap, and the ones which you have to think twice before buying. Not too bad lah, I say :p