Tokyu Hands – Attached to the upscale department store Takashimaya (near Shinjuku Station) is the wondrous Tokyu Hands.  I only got to visit the Shinjuku branch, but other branches’ craft and sewing departments are legendary among DIY crafters online.  Indeed, find one and go there, especially for small gifty things like cell phone charms, fans, and packets of bath salts.  It’s a sort of general store, stocking everything you could think of.  The closest American analog that I know of (in my slightly limited Midwestern experience) is Target–you could buy everything from socks to toothpaste, mailing boxes to curtains or alarm clocks, luggage to furniture–all at reasonable prices for aesthetically pleasing items.
At any rate, I primarily came for the bath salts.  I ended up picking out a strawberry milk bath, a beauty enhancing bath, a volcanic hot spring variety, a Hokkaido milk bath, and one with the tiger-bikini-clad Lum on it (from Rumiko Takahashi’s Urusei Yatsura), just for the heck of it.  I’m hoarding four of my little packets still, but I can verify that the strawberry milk flavor made the bath look and smell like a strawberry milkshake.

Being a Japanese department store, Tokyu Hands also sells incense in its housewares department, at prices comparable to the rest of the store.  There were a number of Nippon Kodo incenses, including the Kayuragi, Fragrance Memories, NK Pure, and Seiun lines.
They also stocked a number of low-end Kunjudo incenses, such as the Kankenkou, Aromambiance, and  Bien Etre/Well Being lines.   (An occasion to play “spot the Encens du Monde”)  I purchased Kunjudo’s 88 Ya incense, which is supposed to impart to the observer all of the health benefits of the green tea it contains.  It smells quite a bit like macha tea powder, both on the stick and burning.
Likewise, several Shoyeido low-enders were for sale including the Horin and Xiang lines.  I purchased the lovely, sandalwood-based but benzoin-heavy Hori-Kawa in a cute, mini stick box–mostly because it’s the only incense my patient but bored husband said he liked on the whole trip (and without being asked!).
It was pretty easy to smell the sticks at Tokyu Hands, because you were provided with a tester box for each type of incense available.

I probably should have checked out Takashimaya’s tenth or eleventh floors, but we were running out of time and I had other places to go for incense.

Kyukyodo in Tokyo – A cautionary tale: never trust Google Maps to get you to Kyukyodo, especially if you know it’s in the Ginza district and Google Maps tells you to go someplace else.  The end.

More to come!

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