Shimamura: for homesick bargain hunters
One of my favourite shops to browse in back home was TK Maxx. I first started going in there when I was a teenager. Rummaging through piles of discount purses and trying on all the formal dresses gave me hours of fun. It's still fun over a decade later, to be honest. I'm allowed to twirl around in ballgowns in the privacy of my own changing room, okay?
There are, as far as I know, no branches of TK Maxx in Japan. I am eternally grateful that Japan has an alternative, and that alternative is Shimamura. It is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same thing.
Last weekend, my idea of a fun Sunday in Osaka was to spend it at the local Shimamura.
Before anyone says it: I'm aware I probably shouldn't be shopping. My cases were heavy enough on the way here. Let's call this a habit I may never get out of.
Shimamura has something of a reputation for being 'cheap' in the bad way. I love cheap, especially if you can't tell the difference at distance.
The first sight that greeted me as I walked in was 70% off shoes. As if I was going to pass that up. Tragically I still have the same problems finding small shoes here as I did in the UK. Sure, they exist, but they're not exactly budget-friendly. So I picked up as close-as-damnit-fitting heels for £4. An excuse to buy more socks. Off to an excellent start.
My next port of call in any clothes shop is the kids' section, and Sunday was no different. Japan's sizing is way more helpful. Everything's arranged by height, rather than by arbitrary age-related height brackets. So rather than debating whether to get the 10-11 or 11-12, I make a beeline for anything labelled 150cm. It's so much easier to find things that fit.
I did make one exception for a 140cm Star Wars hoodie dress with stormtroopers all over it. The arms are a tad short but it is otherwise a sound investment. Hopefully most of you will understand why I did that.
A quick appraisal of the £3 rail later and I was done for the day. My haul was dragged back, and I spent the next 15 minutes snipping off labels because by heck does Japan do labels.
At some point you may find yourself in Japan, feeling very unfashionable. Tokyo in particular will do that to you. Shimamura's one option that won't make you feel as depressed about your bank balance.