3 in 30 - 2000.07.01
Many of the larger train stations have chain department stores associated with them. It only makes sense to put a department store near where people will be. Such is not the case with the Haijima Station of Matsubara-cho. Even though Haijima is served by five different train lines on six tracks, and you can arrive at Haijima from five different directions, there is not a large department store at the train station. As has been mentioned before, there is a large variety of shops where you can get nearly anything you might want, a large department store is not here.
The nearest department store, one where there are a variety of goods under one roof is the Itouyokadou at the northeastern corner of the Matsubara neighborhood. More often, we refer to this as "The Bird Store" because of its distinctive logo. The main floor is mostly a grocery store. In many department stores, the bottom floor, or even the basement floor is where the groceries are located. The second floor of the bird store and part of the first are typical department store goods, clothing, housewares, stationery, toys, books, magazines, etc. The top floor of many department stores is where you will frequently find small restaurants of different kinds. I'm not sure about the bird store.
Just to the south of the bird store is this small hospital. Back when we could read less Japanese than we can now, we went to a neighborhood clinic when we all had sore throats and ear infections that the US Air Base Hospital could not figure out. The clinic could tell a little bit of what our problem was, but didn't have the diagnostic tools to fully treat us, so sent us to this hospital at the edge of the neighborhood.
We were carefully examined and were given medicine which cleared up our infections promptly. After being untreated at the base hospital, it was a treat to feel better again after attentive treatment. We were thankful to our neighbor Takayama-san for directing us to the clinic.
It was only later that we figured out that "Kodomo no byoin" meant children's hospital. That was the reason so many of the other patients looked so short
As you look at these pictures of buildings and streets, did you remember that people drive on the left hand side of the street?
Between the bird store and the bird store's parking lot is this vending machine unit behind the man walking in front of the camera. This is a vending machine that sells bags of rice. The vending machines in Japan are a wonder. In the first place, they are every place. On the four minute walk to our simple rural train station, there are at least twenty vending machines. The greatest proportion sell beverages, mostly soft drinks, but also hot and cold tea and coffee. There are two vending machines near the train station that sell beer and rice wine. Away from the 24 hour convenience stores, there are cigarette machines. There used to be a vending machine that sold women's stockings, but I don't remember seeing that one for a while.
The green color of this rice vending machine is typical. Rice vending machines are easy to spot by their color. There are quite a few brands of rice available, though we don't know one brand from another. The least expensive is a small 5Kg (11 pound) bag for 1880 yen (USD $18). That's roughly $1.64 a pound. The price goes up from there.