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The First of (Hopefully) Many Happy Returns

I’m now back in Tokyo after over a month in Massachusetts. It’s strange, looking back on the visit now, he feels like it flew by. But while I was there we kept ourselves so busy that I was craving a return to our more “simple” life in Tokyo. In fact, I was missing it.

I arrived on August 2nd after a four hour delay in Toronto. I spent the night in our old townhouse before heading down to the Cape the next morning to visit my parents. I stayed the full weekend, reuniting, playing cards…and eating. My Dad is looking amazing after his his replacement surgery and rehabilitation earlier in the year. I was very relieved to see that.

I returned to Boston (and to the office) on Monday, started fighting off jet lag, and immediately began re-connecting with old friends. It was great to be able to see so many people (but still didn’t manage to fit in everybody in this visit).

Two weeks later, Randy arrived and from that point on the rest of the trip to the states is a blur. Between trying to get together with friends and packing up the house so that the movers could put stuff in storage, his two weeks sped by. We ended our trip with a few days at my parents place, then two nights in Provincetown.

Not only was the Ptown weather great, but over the entire month I can only recall one or two humid days (the first two) and only one real day with rain. Otherwise, we were spoiled with bright, sunny skies and low humidity the entire time.

We spent our last two nights in Boston at the Park Plaza Hotel before flying off to Tokyo. Our very last day was met with torrential rains (remnants of the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast)…I’m glad the bad weather didn’t hit until we were leaving.

Now I’m back in Tokyo and enjoying life in a big city again. I really was missing Tokyo while in Boston. I love living in the heart of a big city. It has it’s drawbacks (smaller grocery stores with fewer options, higher prices), but the views, the energy, and attractions just make it so exciting.

Since we’ve been back (only 4 days) we’ve gone to two tapas restaurants (it should have been one, but we realized we were at the wrong restaurant after we’d already ordered), to a Japanese pub, and to the Shibakoen swimming pool. Our friend, Ben, arrives in two days for the weekend and he’s requested that we take him to an onsen (hot spring). I’m sure I’ll have stories about that (I hate being naked in front of people and I hate hot things).

Wish me luck!

Two Months Here: One Month There.

In less than 24 hours I should be on a plane back to North America. It’s been just about two months since we relocated to Tokyo and this will be my first trip back to the States.

I have to be honest, I’m heading back with mixed emotions. There are many things I’m looking forward to. In no particular order:

  1. Cooler temperatures and lower humidity.
  2. Family and friends
  3. Quality fruits and vegetables (mmm – d’anjou pears, granny smith apples, affordable watermelon)
  4. Commuting (seriously, I’m looking forward to going to the office)

That said, I think I’m going to miss a few things in Tokyo, too:

  1. The view from our apartment
  2. The newness that greets us with every morning in a new city/country/culture
  3. Plumbing (this country knows how to design a toilet and bathtub/shower)

Oddly enough, Randy is already in the United States. Because of a death in the family he went to Virginia on Monday and will return to Tokyo next Monday. He’ll be back in Tokyo for just a week and a half and then fly to Boston to join me for a few weeks. This puts us apart for just over 2.5 weeks, making this the longest we’ve been separated.

And I don’t like it.





The Same, but Different

I’m finding the produce situation in Japan to be quite interesting.

For the most part, you can get the same things here that you can get in the states. In fact, I’m finding vegetables (and roots) I’ve never seen before so the options here may be even greater (though, the quantities, as I’ve mentioned before, are lower).

But I’m still noticing a huge difference between the fruits and veggies in the US versus Japan.

Bananas, for example. They’re more expensive here (what isn’t?) but they are also a bit different. They look the same for the most part, but they ripen much faster. You can buy a banana that is yellow with tips of green (the way we like them) and within 24 hours they are always soft and going brown. The skin even gets a wrinkly texture right away. People here seem to prefer them that way. At one produce shop we reached for a yellow/green bunch and the clerk pushed for us to take a yellow/brown bunch instead, saying they’re better. Um, no. The bananas are also stringier on the inside and don’t taste as good. I’ve also never had banana peals that crumble…but I consistently have peals that fall apart as I peal them back, littering little pieces below me.

Then there are the cucumbers. Cucumbers in the US are fat and crisp. Even English Cucumbers are fat compared to the ones here. In Japan, they’re the width of a magic marker, flexible, and bumpy. There are no seeds and they taste less fresh.

Cauliflower is tiny here, but more expensive (a small head half the size of my fist can go for $5.00). Fortunately, these taste the same. Broccoli is also smaller, but cheaper at $2.50 per crown.  Unrelated, but why do people buy a head of lettuce or cauliflower but buy a crown of broccoli?

I’ve seen only three types of apples and they’re all crap (and go for over $2.00 per apple). They don’t have granny smith here, what they do have is rather flavorless and soft.

Mayonnaise here is sold in transparent soft tubes and not plastic containers. We’ve not opened it yet so I cant comment on the taste.

Beer can be purchased in vending machines found all over the city streets. I’m assuming there is a legal drinking age but I’m not sure how it can be enforced if you don’t even need to speak to a person to buy alcohol.

I’ve read that the Japanese government, to help domestic farmers, practically bans the importation of any fruits and vegetables that can otherwise be grown on Japanese soil. Consequently, this jacks up the prices so that it’s ridiculously expensive to purchase produce here. If they allowed the importation of more varieties of produce, prices would drop….as the quality goes up. Yeah, it would suck for the 20,000 or so farmers, but you’d be helping over 127,000.000 citizens get access to more varieties of flavorful food. Right now, you get very little for the amount you pay. Watermelons only the size of a cantaloupe for $80? I don’t think so.

Does it make me a loser that the things I’m looking most forward to in the US (aside from family and friends, of course) are granny smith apples, d’anjou pears, bananas, and cucumbers?

Oh, and pizza. Japanese pizza is not very good. And although Dominoes delivers in our neighborhood, I’m not willing to spend $44.00 for a pizza (seriously, that’s the price for the same exact pizza you get in the US). Of course I wouldn’t order Dominoes pizza in any country, but I’m looking forward to my first pizza delivery when I get back.


Hābādo Daigaku

Hābādo Daigaku no Coleman.

Last week Randy and I started our lessons with the Japanese tutor. We certainly have a long way to go. For those curious, today’s Heading is “Harvard University” in Japanese. Because the Japanese alphabet doesn’t have certain sounds, the way they say Harvard comes off as Habado. In fact, it appears most of their modern words are just butchered versions of English:

Igirisu = English

enjinia = engineer

biru = beer

So, on the plus side, that should make learning some Japanese easier. But the problem I’m finding is that their sentence structures are completely different than English (and Romance languages). They’ll have sentences (long sentences) without verbs. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

Even after two lessons, though, I’m picking up on things. For example, if I’m watching television and a commercial comes on and says the phone number, I can understand a few numbers. And I can understand a little bit of what the voice in the elevator says to me as we descend to the first floor. Progress!

Seriously, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do an expat assignment 2o, or even 10 years ago. Thanks to technology, the 6,700 miles between Boston and Tokyo feel like mere blocks at times. Randy has us connected with a Boston phone number that rings at our apartment. Even better, unlike 20 years ago, international long-distance calls are free (I remember paying more than $1/minute to call Scotland and Ireland in the 90’s). I am actually talking on the phone with my parents more now than I did when I was in the same time zone.

We also have internet access and thanks to a VPN connection Randy set up, we can access network TV shows back in the US. Thanks to smart phones, we can use Google maps to find our way around the city easily. Also, thanks to technology, we’ve made some local expat friends in our area.

But there are disadvantages to this, I think. I mean, aside from Randy’s co-workers, we’ve not befriended any actual Japanese people. The friends we’ve met have been from Australia, England, and Chicago. I think we need to branch out. Otherwise, what’s the point of being here if you’re not going to take advantage of everything it has to offer?


Japan is a Confused Place

Now, I was going to type “Japan is a Confusing Place” for my heading, but then I realized that confused actually makes more sense.

Don’t get me wrong, Japan is plenty confusing. The language seems to be a hodge podge of languages with alternating rules of nonsense. They drive on the “wrong” side of the road. They don’t use street names in their addresses. Hell, they even sell placenta on TV. That qualifies as confusing to me.

But they’re confused in other ways. For example, banking. They don’t have online banking like they do in the states. Randy can’t set up automatic monthly payments for our rent or furniture rental…he has to do wire transfers individually each month.  Fine, you say, he can just write checks, right? Wrong. Checks don’t exist in Japan. They have no concept of what they are since they don’t have them. Every bill being paid must be done by wire transfer. Instead of that hassle, why not offer online banking?

Another example…we live over the Minato-ku pool. During the winter, the pool area is used as three soccer fields (it’s a large pool). At the end of June the floor is dropped and the area turns into a pool starting on July 1. First, I don’t understand why it’s not turned into a pool sooner since temperatures are regularly in the 70’s as early as May and the pool would provide welcome relief.

But the confused part comes from what the Japanese consider acceptable at the pool. I find it hilarious that men can wear the skimpiest of bikinis around the pool…and I’m talking borderline pornographic…but they are not allowed to expose a tattoo. I’m serious. Men prance around in string bikinis with a pouch that barely covers their private parts and outlines absolutely everything underneath in a thin, tight, spandex layer…often times semi-transparent (when wet)…yet any sort of tattoo is considered taboo.

People with tattoos aren’t exactly banned, they’re just banned from showing their tattoo. The accepted solution is to wear waterproof bandages to cover their arms, chest, or legs. And this just brings more attention to them because often times these bandages are bright blue or yellow. So, a little skin ink proclaiming your love of mom is offensive, but basically showing the world your religion is okay.

And what’s up with with their excessive etiquette? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saying my pleases and thank yous. But do I need my elevator to thank me? Do I need every single employee in a shop or restaurant to welcome me upon entry? It’s the strangest thing to open a shop door and hear a chorus of “Iraasshaimase!” And when people start talking, it seems like every sentence spoken begins or ends with either “kudasai,” “arigato,” “domo arigato,” “arigato gozimashita,” “arigato gozaimasu,” “shimasu,” “itadakimasu,” or “onegaishimas.” Every single one of those phrases means some form of please or thank you. And you hear all of them constantly, from people and even from machines.

I get it, you’re a polite people. Yet with all of that courtesy they can’t be bothered to say “bless you” if somebody sneezes?

And what’s up with not stocking stores? I’ve read (and seen photos) of grocery stores after last year’s earthquake. Shelves were barren within hours and there was limited food to be found even in Tokyo. The reason for this? They put one or two items on the shelf at a time. I’ll go to the local market to get yogurt and the deep shelf has only 3 or 4 containers of any flavor…the rest of the shelf behind it is empty. Consequently, if I go to the market in the afternoon, the items I like best are gone and there are empty holes in the shelf where product should be. I know that it’s bad business to have high inventory in stock rooms…but on the sales floor? Especially after last year’s disaster, you’d think they would actually have enough product for the consumer on a regular day or, more importantly, in an emergency.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like it here…quite the opposite. Perhaps Japan isn’t confused as much as I am?

Nah…it’s Japan.


The Full Japanese Experience

Ok, up until now I’ve simply been a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan. However, thanks to our friends, Jason and Brett, we were able to experience a quintessential Japanese experience. There are actually quite a few such opportunities, really. There are the 9-story karaoke booths. There are Harajuku girls and rockabilly boys. There are earthquakes. This afternoon, we tried the maid cafe.

You see, maid cafes first appeared a little over a decade ago in the Akihabara area of Tokyo. This is the electronics district where you can buy everything from fans to TV’s to sex toys. If you can plug it into a socket, they sell it. But in the midst of this somewhat testosterone-filled district, there are now numerous maid cafes where the staff is all female, and they’re all dressed like slutty French maids. The decorations are ridiculously girly and the service even more so.

For example, the waitresses all use baby talk and high pitched (dare I say, annoying) voices. When our waitress arrived at our table she made us count down from 3 to 1 before she “lit” a battery powered candle. Strangely, it wasn’t left at the table…she took the candle away. Most of the food items come in the shape of cutesy animals (I had a pork katsu with rice and curry that looked like a teddy bear).

You’d think that was strange enough, but no, there’s more. Honestly, this was the second most peculiar meal I’ve ever had. The first was at a restaurant in Buenos Aires that had a menu written erotically about every food item, had erotic are on every wall…and came complete with a hardcore porn puppet show. I’m serious. We’re talking full on penetration.

But back to the maid cafe (which was called Maidreamin’, by the way). Every time the waitress brought a food or beverage to the table she made us perform a cutesy Engrish song, along with hand gestures. From what I can remember, we had to create a heart with our hands, then bring the heart to our right check, then left check, then to the food, all the while singing “Delicious, Delicious, More, More…Hooray.” I may have the last word wrong…I couldn’t quite understand everything that was going on around me. But since every food item came individually, we had to sing for our lunch multiple times, alongside our cheery Lolita-esque waitress. Obviously, the quality of the food has nothing to do with the ingredients or preparation. It has EVERYTHING to do with whether you cast a magic happy spell on it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention how you beckon your waitress when you need her. Everybody at the table has to put their hands to their eyes as if crying and make meowing noises (which in Japanease is neow-neow…not meow). Yes…our table of middle-aged men had to pretend to be crying felines to get service.

Apparently, this whole concept was designed to tickle the fancies of men with little-girl fetishes (which is very big here). This whole country is obsessed with the whole school girl shtick.

Half way through our meal, the lights went down and a handful of waitress started singing and dancing to a J-pop (Japanese pop) song. One particular dancer was quite, um, erotically charged with her thrusting and would have been just as employable in one of Tokyo’s finer adult entertainment establishments, if you know what I mean.

Of course, all of this…what would you call it?…entertainment?…comes at a price. For the privilege of neow-neowing like a cat and singing for your food, you had to pay 1,000 yen ($12) per person just to sit down, plus the cost of food and drink.

But honestly, it’s an experience I’d do again. Plus, I got my maidreamin’ “passport” card and I’m eligible for a free drink next time! I don’t think Randy was as enamored with the experience. But he did manage to capture a video (which technically isn’t allowed, which explains the poor quality). Maybe if we had sung to the iPhone first it would have guaranteed a quality video?


What Is Home?

To celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, and since Randy was exhausted after everything that’s been going on over the past six months, we decided to take make a long weekend and go away. Thanks to’s Explore feature, we found tickets to Busan, South Korea. Actually, we found tickets to Okinawa and Guam, too, but Busan won.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I’d never heard of Busan before. If you’d said that name to me I would never have been able to tell you what country it was in…hell, I might have thought Busan was the name of a country. Alas, it’s a city in southwest Korea…and it’s huge. The population is 3.6 million, it’s got a large subway system (only 5 lines, but there are 40 stops on one line alone), and it’s going through an insane building craze right now. I really should have heard of it. But more on that later.

So, despite Busan being under 2 hours from Tokyo by airplane, it took us over 7 hours to go from apartment to hotel after taking everything into account (train to the airport, being at airport 1.5 hours pre-flight, 2 hour flight, lunch at the airport, then train to the hotel). Needless to say, we arrived at the hotel and took a short nap.

Busan is known as Korea’s summer capital since it’s a city with large, sandy beaches. Our hotel was on Haeundae Beach, the most popular. Our room faced a short section of the beach with some of the city skyline as the backdrop. Since it was raining the first day we opted to go to the Busan Museum of Art. This was the strangest museum I think I’d seen. First, it’s free (score!). Second, it’s large, yet when we were there we were the only visitors (at least for the first hour). Third, there wasn’t much art; just three floors of atrium and galleries with modern pieces by Korean artists.

The next day it rained again (this is their monsoon season, which is ironic for a city known for it’s summer beaches). Anyway, we decided to head to the city’s new downtown, Seomyeon. The best way to describe this area is chaos. Narrow streets, illuminated signs going up every building from top to bottom, crowds on every sidewalk, street vendors set up everywhere selling food (including cooked insects), and a persistent stench of sewer. Despite all that, we had lunch at a Korean place, explored the area some more, then headed back to Haeundae Beach.

At night our hotel offered free cocktails and food in the executive lounge so we did that every day. On this evening, we sat next to another American couple and started chatting them up. We discovered that they were also from Massachusetts (Fitchburg) and were expats now living in Shanghai.

The next morning they joined us visiting a rare Korean temple that was built on the ocean instead of high up in the mountains. The main temple was quite spectacular, with incredibly detailed painted ceilings, a 3-story gold Buddha, and throngs of tourists.

That night, Randy and I headed to Busan’s second most popular beach, Gwangalli. WOW – it was unlike any beach I’d seen. Even at 11 o’clock at night the beach was packed. Looking out over the water you had a glimpse of the Gwangan Bridge (a few miles long with high towers like the Golden Gate, but completely illuminated from end to end). Where it reaches land, it meets up with a long string of mid and highrise buildings equally illuminated from top to bottom. In fact, in every direction where there was land, was a wall of lit up buildings. Such energy!

Speaking of buildings, this city is growing…and fast. Near Haeundae Beach is a complex of 70, 75, and 80 story residential buildings surrounded by other buildings in the 40-50 story range. Now, Boston has 2 buildings over 42 floors. Just two. Right near our hotel was a construction site where they are building a 99 story apartment building. In another area I recall a sign saying that the world’s 5th tallest building was going to be built. How pathetic that I’d never heard of this metropolis before.

On Sunday we decided to check out Busan Tower (located atop a hilly park near Nampo-dong). It was from here that you could see how the city just spreads out for miles and miles. Like I said, it’s a city of 3.6 million people. But because the region is very mountainous, development took place in the flat areas and throughout the city there are plush green mountains with no buildings. This also explains why there are only 5 subway lines for a city this large…they follow the valleys where development took place.

From there, we thought we’d check out one of Busan’s biggest attractions: Taejongdae Park. This park sits at the tip of one of the many peninsulas that stick out from the city. It’s very hilly with tall cliffs and lots of woods. Unfortunately, it’s highly over-rated. There isn’t much to see but a long and winding (and hilly) road that circles the park mostly inland so you can’t see much. We did hike a bit up and down some cliffs along the water, but they weren’t exciting enough to warrant the energy it took to get there.

Fully exhausted from the park, we decided the next day (our last) would be our beach day (which, in our minds, was the whole point of the trip in the first place). We lounged on the beach for most of the day, then headed out to do some shopping that night.

In between all of these activities, we visited the world’s largest department store (Shinsegae), witch was unlike any I’d ever seen. The roof on the 9th floor has a large grassy park with tall trees and views of the city, mountains, and river. There were also taller portions of the building housing golf ranges and racquet ball courts.

One of the best features of our hotel was the natural hot spring and spa. Unlike most hotels with a small pool and, if lucky, a hot tub, the entire sixth and seventh floors of this hotel were dedicated to pool, spa, and gym. The men’s spa was quite luxurious, with lockers, a shower area, a cool tub, hot tub, and hell tub, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach, a hot dry sauna, a hell hot dry sauna. a steam room, and a lounge to relax overlooking the beach and to drink smoothies. Needless to say, we took advantage of this every day we were there.

All in all, we both enjoyed ourselves, but were hoping for more. Unlike other cities we’ve visited, there just weren’t that many attractions. And the attractions they had were just too spread out. We both like walkable cities and this is definitely not one.  On the plus side, the people of Korea are so freaking friendly it’s scary. It seemed that every time we were on the subway, a Korean would walk up to us to talk…usually, it seemed, to be friendly and practice their English, twice to preach to us about God. Apparently, Korean’s are Christian. too.

It was also interesting to see the differences between the Koreans and the Japanese despite their close proximity. Korean’s are much more individualistic…a ride on the subway shows people with colorful clothing, dyed hair, and tattoos. In Tokyo, everybody is wearing black pants and white shirts (business attire). It was definitely more relaxed.

Toward the end of the trip (as always happens to me when I travel), I start getting restless and look forward to returning home. For the first time, that “home” I was looking forward to was our apartment in Tokyo. I guess I really do feel at home here.

Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Yeah

One month ago today we headed on over to Logan Airport and boarded our flight to Japan (well, via Toronto to  Japan). A full month ago. Within that time I’d say that we’ve successfully acclimated to life in Asia. Randy appears to have gotten his commute down pat (which wasn’t too difficult since we’re within walking distance of his office). We’ve made a few friends (mostly through Randy’s work, and then friends of friends). I’ve begun to figure out how and where to shop for the lowest priced produce since there are no American style super markets to be found anywhere.

I’ve also been getting more adventurous with the foods I’ll eat (horse, anybody?). Still, we’ve actually not had very much Japanese food since we’ve been here. We’ve either cooked ourselves (stir-fry, salad, etc..) or gone out to eat at various ethnic restaurants: Turkish, Italian, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, etc…). I think the reason for that is that the Japanese restaurants have those curtains in front that block the entrance. I’m guessing in their minds those curtains are welcoming. To my western mind, they’re advising to me to stay out. What are they hiding in there?

We’ve also had a few adventures since we’ve been here. Just two weeks after moving we survived our first hurricane (or, typhoon, as they call them here). Twenty-seven floors and 300 feet above the ground our apartment creaked and swayed so much that I was starting to feel seasick.  A week and a half later I was sitting on the sofa when I felt the building shake very slightly (and heard light creaking) and realized I was experiencing my first Tokyo earthquake. Randy didn’t feel it at his office, but for my Boston friends it reminded me of the one the east coast experienced last summer.

However, yesterday we felt our first real “big” earthquake. Randy had just finished a conference call so we were both in the apartment at around 11:31am when we both felt a jolt. We immediately looked at each other with that “did you just feel that?” looks on our faces. Then there was a rumble and the building started creaking and popping and stuff on shelves rattled (like the television). That was followed by less than 15 seconds of gentle swaying. After a while I went online and read that it was a 5.4 earthquake just southeast of Tokyo Bay. According to the Japan Meteorological Society Seismic Intensity Scale, our area of Tokyo experienced a level 3 (out of 7 levels, with 0 being minor and 7 being catastrophic). Areas closer to the epicenter experienced a level 4.

So le’ts recap: 1 month, horse meat dinner, a hurricane, and two earthquakes. Our future should sure be very interesting.


One Big Neighborhood? I Don’t Think So

I’ve said this before but it warrants repeating. Tokyo is massive. You can sense it as you ride the Narita Express train in from the airport and the urban sprawl envelopes you. You can sense it when you hop on a subway train, get off 20 minutes later and realize that you’re still in the heart of things. You can sense it when you’re in a highrise (such as our apartment) and as far as the eye can see it appears that you’re smack dab in the middle of the largest city on earth. And from that vantage point, it all kind of looks the same.

But up close, that’s not the case. Although the neighborhoods don’t feel as individual as those in cities like Boston (Cambridge feels nothing like the North End, which feels nothing like the Back Bay, which feels nothing like Dorchester), there are differences. Yesterday, we decided to explore Yanaka. It’s just a 20 minute or so subway ride from our apartment, but in some ways a world away.

Gone are the hi-rise apartment buildings (though in parts you can still see them in the distance). Also gone are large buildings in general. This is an area of small buildings, single family homes, and one of the largest collection of cemeteries in Tokyo (over 7,000 tombs). It’s also home to more temples and shrines than I’ve seen in one area since we took the train to Nikko (which is hours north of the city).

It seemed that every corner we took brought us to another temple – some more impressive than others. Unforunately, my culturally unaware self felt that they all started blending together after a while…but it’s still a cool area. Even more fun was the shopping and restaurant district which felt very Japanese (versus neighborhoods like ours that have chain convenience stores on every corner). Here, it was chock full of mom and pop shops. Randy even got me to eat Indian food at Mother India.

I wonder what else this city has to offer that we’ve not found yet?

Omotesando: Where Neglected Statues Go To Die

With Randy gone on a business trip and me being left all by my lonesome, I recently decided to check out Tokyo’s Omotesando district. I remember years ago that Tokyo was home to a pretty unusual Prada store, many stories tall with glass bubble windows. It opened years ago and I always thought it would be (or should be) located in Ginza, Tokyo’s famous high-end shopping district.

But Tokyo is apparently big enough for two such districts. Yet Omotesando is nothing like Ginza. Where Ginza is wide boulevards and narrow side streets with seizure-inducing Times Square lighting, Omotesando is a peaceful feeling boulevard lined with large shade trees. Hell, not only is it unlike Ginza, it’s unlike most of Tokyo. I would almost go so far as to say the area has charm.

And, like Boston’s Newbury Street, the area is chock full of high end shopping destinations: Prada, Gaultier, Gucci, etc… One of the best things about the area is that each store is trying to outdo it’s neighbors, resulting in a stunning collection of contemporary architecture. Every time you think you’ve seen your favorite, you go another block and find an even better building. I want to go back after dark sometime. Certain buildings, like the Prada store, would make for some great photography.

The photo above is from a storefront window. For the life of me, I don’t know what they’re selling, but it looks like a mannequin and statue burial ground.