And a shirt and some leggings and a blanket and lots of other cool stuff; some of which I definitely needed, and some of which I also obviously needed.
On Thursday, January 2nd, a friend and I went shopping in Sakae. We had been told that the January 2nd sales were Japan’s equivalent of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) in the States, or Boxing Day in Australia, the UK, and other Commonwealth nations. As I have never experienced either, any comparisons I made would be uneducated guesses at best. Given how light my wallet feels, I am also quite unlikely to venture out again, to see if all the sales we saw then are still underway; and if so, how depleted the stock at participating stores is. There were certainly plenty of crowds out and about, taking advantage of all the bargains to be had.
It had been a while since I’d had a really good shopping spree so to be so successful this time felt great. I had had a rough idea in my head of what I might like to buy, but having failed miserably on previous outings, I wasn’t holding out much hope this time around. Fortunately, karma seemed to be smiling on us; possibly because I decided to begin to fulfil my New Year’s Resolutions by walking into Sakae instead of taking the train; perhaps because my friend and I had both suffered from a spot of bad luck within the previous 24 hours – she had destroyed her dinner and almost taken half her kitchen with it; I had knocked my makeup case flying, sending many a lipstick and eye-shadow toppling down the back of my shelving unit. Either way, lady luck had decided she was in a good mood with us once more, and we both had a fabulously fruitful expedition.
The main success, and the title of this post, was most definitely THE BOOTS. If you were blessed with small feet, or alternatively have never attempted to go shoe shopping in Japan (or, for that matter, anywhere in Asia), then you probably are currently struggling to grasp why a simple purchase of a pair of nice boots could garner this much excitement. Allow me to enlighten you. Japanese people have smaller feet than your average Caucasian, and the majority of Japanese girls have positively petite feet. Because of this, the norm as far as shoe sizes go is considerably tinier than what I am used to back home. I have size 9 feet. Sometimes I can get into a size 8 or 8.5, depending on the brand; but usually I am a 9. Now before I came to Japan, I never considered myself to have disproportionately large feet, and certainly never had a problem finding shoes that fit (those that were actually comfortable, now there’s a whole ‘nother story). However, once here, I quickly realised I was in fact more hobbit than human, and I pretty much gave up on finding shoes that were stylish, comfortable, and in my size.
For anyone suffering a similar situation, let me tell you, THERE IS STILL HOPE! And hope was certainly the only thing which kept me asking, what’s the largest size you have? (Obviously one of those phrases I quickly memorised in Japanese). The few times I caved to peer pressure from my friends and/or the sales assistant, and actually attempted to pull a pair onto my colossal clodhoppers, I was immediately disheartened, and often in some degree of pain (depending on the level of enthusiasm of the ever-helpful sales staff). So, when my friend dragged me into a store selling beautiful leather boots it did put a slight dampener onto my otherwise good mood – she of course having perfect little size 7s.
“Sumimasen, ichiban ookii saizu wa, nan desu ka?” I most hesitantly mumbled to the nearest sales staff. The answer? 25.5!! Positively ginormous by Japanese standards, and quite possibly the size I needed! Japanese shoe sizing is quite different from other countries: there are two main ways shoes are sized – S, M, L, LL (LL being quite rare), and upwards (incredibly rare); or by centimetres. This shop luckily used the altogether more reliable method of cm. I pointed out the pair I’d had my eye on, and, with some trepidation, attempted to pull them on. Tried, tried, tried, and failed. These were not the boots for me. Sad face. The lovely sales assistant assured me that that particular style ran small, and not to worry. She ran off to fetch another pair.
By this point the small grain of hope, that had appeared when I found out they stocked large sizes, crumbled away to dust, and I was really just humouring her in trying a second pair. BUT, as luck would have it, they pulled straight on!! I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable. I was lost for words. As I am now, thinking about it. I stood up and was amazed that they were not altogether uncomfortable. The sales girl then pointed to her own boots and said that they were the same. I was sure I must have misunderstood, as the two pairs looked nothing alike. She then showed me how I could roll them down to form the cutest fluffy cuff! She also explained that the belt was fully removable. This was some seriously versatile footwear! I fell in love. I did not try on another pair. I sadly took them off so they could be placed carefully back in their box, and handed over a little over 10,000 yen. For a good pair of black leather boots, I’d say it was a bargain. Oh and my friend got some too. Whatever. Hers were different and therefore obviously not as good, but she seemed quite happy. Indeed, after we left the shop we both skipped merrily down the street, so pleased we both were with our purchases!
If you happen to be in the area, the store’s name was FITFIT, in Skyle department store; the same building as UNIQLO (another store which I have a serious love for).
Yes I know this was a long post just about boots, but you have to understand just how big of an accomplishment it was to find such a thing. If you made it to the end, congratulations! And you should leave me a nice comment saying so. As a reward, next time I will write about something more interesting. Maybe.
Akemashite Omedetou gozaimasu!!
(Happy New Year)