|This is a photo of the Hiroshima Costco I pulled off of the internet. It was raining today, so I did not get any outside shots of the store.|
The kids and I had planned to be in Okinawa right now, but, Space A loving me like it does (dripping heavy sarcasm here), there was no space available for us when we tried to fly Space A yesterday. So, I figured this would be a good time to finally make the 1.5 hour drive (we've always taken the train before) to Hiroshima and check out the new Costco that just opened there last month. I chose to drive to Hiroshima for the first time in the pouring rain. I wasn't going to let that stop me, I had some disappointment to get over. Plus, if I was to going to be buying any bulk-sized products of joy, I certainly wasn't going to walk in the rain to the train station with them. I needed my car. Plus, the boys and I (Rodney should be in Okinawa by then, for a special week-long Master Sergeant seminar) plan to drive to Sasebo Navy base Monday and stay for a few days, I figured I'd better use this trip as a practice run for the real 5-hour road trip.
Fortunately, my friend Yolanda's directions and map, as well as Google Maps, all were great at different points in the trip, and we were able to find Costco without getting lost. An accident and pouring rain made the 1.5-hour trip closer to 2 hours, but so be it. I was on an adventure.
|The view of the Carps stadium from the third floor of the Costco parking structure.|
The Hiroshima Costco is not the sprawling warehouse with giant sprawling parking lot like you find in suburban America. It is right next to, as in you can almost reach out and touch, the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium, where the Japanese professional baseball team, the Carps play. You drive around the stadium to get to the Costco parking structure. Yes, parking structure. It is three stories high, over the store itself, and, even though many Japanese work on Saturdays, it was PACKED. So packed, in fact, that we had to park on the top deck of the parking structure and dash through the rain to the escalator ramps down to the store itself. Imagine the concrete ramps you find at sports stadiums that you walk up along the outside of the stadium. Same thing at Costco... only these are escalators made for shopping carts. Bad photo, but you get the idea.
But this could be dangerous... I can just imagine a harried mother juggling twins and a cart accidentally letting the cart slip from her grip, taking out an entire escalator ramp full of shoppers. Of course, Costco already considered that (or the escalator ramp people did and Costco took their advice) and have custom wheels on the carts. The wheels have treads that slip in to the escalator floor and than have a rubber stopper to hold them in one place. No shopping cart bowling today!
After showing my membership card (yes my one from the States works, but a manager needed to override it at the register because I do not have a Japanese address, just a Military Post Office box) I entered the suburban family's shopping Mecca...
|Giant rolls of ribbon! Love these, but the selection is much smaller than in the States|
|The clothing section... this photo belies how crowded it actually was. I think everyone was crushed in to the food sections.|
|The kids were thrilled to see that the playhouse was on display... even though we don't have a backyard to put it in right now.|
|Spicy dinner rolls|
And speaking of samples, yes, there were plenty to be had, but some of them you had to stand in line for, like with this beef dish below. The line starts with the lady in the white shirt with the basket and child in green and went back about nine people.
Ultimately, here is what we bought:
|My basket of bulk-sized products of joy.|
If you are in to price comparisons, here is what I paid for some of the items (these are the ones I could read on the receipt... the rest were in hiragana.
Jar of Kirkland Minced Garlic: 538 yen (about $6)
50-foot spool of decorative ribbon: 698 yen (about $7.50)
Kirkland Bath Tissue (30 rolls): 1,988 yen (about $22)
Bag of six bell peppers: 888 yen (about $10 - these cost about $2 each at the commissary).
Of course, our receipt was highlighted by the personnel at the door as we left, and the food court is out the roll-up exit doors and to the right. We were there at lunch time so it was amazingly busy. It has many of the usual menu items... pizza, hot dogs, fruit parfaits and soda... all in the usual sizes. I can just imagine how a Japanese person's mind is blown by the sheer size of some of this stuff.