Sometimes when you've been living in a new country for a bit you start to overlook those unremarkable events that make up an important part of your experience. For example, you probably wouldn't think of Costco as an essential part of life in Japan, but you'd also be hard-pressed to find any expat in Asia who would turn down the offer of a Costco trip. That's because in just about every major Asian city from Shanghai to Sapporo, Costco is the cheapest source of Western staples like peanut butter, sausage, and cheese.
So when a co-worker offered us a ride to Costco this morning, we jumped at the chance!
But there's more to an expat's Costco visit than cheap groceries, as Costco's "food court" (read: concession stand) is also the only real option around for cheap American-style pizza and hot dogs. Despite the ensuing stomach ache, those treats alone would have been worth the journey--including those harrowing 20 minutes when we got lost, accidentally blew through a tollbooth without taking a ticket, and threw ourselves on the mercy of a thankfully kind toll collector who could speak a little English.
As it is, we also came away with several pounds of peanut butter, dried cranberries, and Quaker Oats. All in all, a stirring success!