Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Japanese Shopping: 100 Yen Stores (And, Eyelids!)

Nowadays, 100 yen is approximately equal to a dollar (one yen ~ one penny), so a Hundred Yen store would be similar to a dollar store. Of course, in the US, dollar stores are notorious for selling things that cost much more than a dollar - and has anyone ever seen anything for five cents or a dime at a five and dime? (Okay, Mom, I meant RECENTLY.)

100 Yen stores aren't like that. Everything in the store is, as advertised, 100 yen - unless marked otherwise, and surprisingly few things are. Check out some of our hundred-yen loot from Daiso, the 100 yen store motherlode:

Flip-flops, very useful in case you forget which gender you are:

Children's Japanese language practice sheet, now taped up in our bathroom for practice:

Japanese version of the water-eating hippo from our Korea days (essentially a carton of dessicant to combat wicked Japanese summer humidity). We bought four - one for each closet, one for under the kitchen sink, and one for the bathroom.

Things we did not buy, but are of interest:

Jigsaw puzzle providing correct Japanese pronunciation of "Dachshund" (note: not from Daiso)

Eyelid tape:

Now is the time when we get controversial! Partay!

Eyes are an issue in East Asia that could be a blog post all their own. In the West, most people probably define "Asian" in a large part by eye shape - more elongated or "almond," to use the poetic term. This shape is in part due to some skin over the eye called the "epicanthic fold." (see picture on the Wikipedia article here). Not all Asians have such a large fold but this "monolid" look is more common here.

Some Asians have an aesthetic preference for double eyelids. (Note: I know this is a comedy site. Many a true word is spoken in jest.) Some people blame this on "Western cultural imperialism" with white models and the like, which would suggest that an Asian using double-eyelid tape is trying to "look white." Others point out that large eyes are preferred in all cultures because they are associated with youthfulness and look energetic - I, the whitest whitey in Whiteytown, wear mascara to give myself a larger eye without any ethnic implications, so why can't an Asian girl do the same?

In any case, the law of capitalism dictates that where there is demand, so shall there be supply, and consequently there are all sorts of products allowing you to get them. Eyelid tape and glue are used to stick skin above the eye together and create an eyelid (see tape video here and glue video here). There is also the option of surgery (before and after pictures here; no gross surgery pics, I promise).

I have no moral opinion on this, but I do have an amusing and ironic anecdote to stick in here. When I was in middle school or high school (or one of those times when people are dumb), I noticed while leafing through celebrity magazines that a lot of famous women have eyelids that are not visible when their eyes are open - see, for instance, Jessica Simpson or Reese Witherspoon. I myself have eyelids for which the technical term is "gigundo." Check those puppies out:

The point of all this is that I developed a complex that my eyelids were too big. In the meantime, my Asian counterparts were purchasing tape from the 100 yen store (the theoretical point of this post) and poking their eyeballs with plastic sticks in an attempt to get their eyelids bigger. This is basically the eyelid version of my lifelong struggles with skin so white I occasionally get visits from the Ghostbusters, only to discover that my Chinese suitemate at summer camp, who was a stunning even shade I can't call anything but gold, felt that she looked like a peasant.

I believe the moral of this story is that people are dumb, and I definitely need to live in Asia.


  1. That is such a cute picture of you! Go eyelids! PS I need some of those "woman" flip flops.