Monday, January 29, 2018

Retail Therapy

I was surprised that it snowed and sleeted, at times heavily, during my stay in Kyushu, especially during my first stop in Fukuoka. That means I ended up spending more time indoors, shopping and chilling in a much slower pace, which was not bad an alternative, given I didn't have anything particular in mind to go or do anyway.

I consulted the Fukuoka Guide Book by D&Department Project when I planned for the trip, so I thought I would drop by the D&Department store there as well to take a look and shop. The store is on the second level of a rustic-looking concrete building at a street corner just a few blocks away from the Hakata Station, with a trendy Commes de Garcons shop taking up the ground floor space.

The interior followed the same theme with the façade with the simple, industrial-chic looks, with 2/3 space dedicated to retail and gallery and the rest a café/restaurant (the d47 shokudo similar to the one we went in Kyoto) They got a good selection of furniture – new or used – which was hardly a surprise given Kyushu was known for their furniture making industry, and of course, just like any other D&Department stores, there’s a good section of local products featured as well, from ceramics to clothing to food ingredients. I had so much fun browsing and shopping – just like a toy store to me!

D&Department Fukuoka:

I happened to stumble across the atelier of Hightide, a famous Japanese stationary/lifestyle brand, as they were located just a block behind the ryokan I was staying in. So one evening I dropped by to take a look at the shop on the ground floor. The brand was known for their design of notebooks/diaries and other classic, practical stationery products, some designed right here at their headquarter in Fukuoka (upstairs from the shop), and some curated elsewhere in Japan or overseas. They also ran a small café inside the shop for coffee or light meals during the day – I could imagine it would be the perfect setting for lunch when it’s sunny and warm outside. I wasn’t so much a stationery fanatics (not as much as I was with houseware products), but it didn’t stop me from fetching a few items home.

Hightide Online Store:

B.B.B. Potters was another lifestyle shop that was on my itinerary in Fukuoka, even better when it’s also within walking distance from the ryokan – I swear I didn’t plan this on purpose. You know the shop is the kind of place I could spend hours in when you know the name stood for “Brew, Bake and Boil with Potters”. It started off as a place which sells everyday lifestyle goods mainly for the kitchen, which now extended to other houseware goods, and a separate section right behind their main shop for restaurant supplies. The shop – with 2 levels inside a non-descript building in a quiet neighbourhood – reminded me of Crate & Barrel shop in the States.

The ground floor were the sections for common household goods, and upstairs was the café and sections for artisan products. I particularly enjoyed resting at the café, with a compact menu of coffee and teas plus baking goods and desserts, served on handmade pottery (which were also available for sale). It’s a great place to sit and eat, read and relax and just having a small refuge from the terrible weather and a rest from the retail therapy.

B.B.B. Potters:

One of the items I always shop while in Japan was bottles of sake. There were much more varieties to choose from, some available only for limited time or for limited quantity,
and they were kept in perfect condition. And one of my favorite shops in all of Japan is right here in Fukuoka called Sumiyoshi. While their honten shop has a wider selection of bottles (both sake and shochu) and a floor dedicated to drinkware, this time I dropped by their stall inside Hakata Station instead, specifically, the stand-up bar (Kadouchi) at the back of the shop for a little tasting and snacking session.

At the bar they had a compact bar menu of hot and cold snacks, and also selection of sakes either available on a la carte basis, or as a flight of different grades and styles for tasting. The price of each item was listed in the unit of “coupon” in the multiple of 300 yen, and I was given a stack of coupons as I settled in at the counter (then you pay depending on how many you used at the end). I went with a flight of four different sakes all brewed locally in Fukuoka Prefecture but with different rice and styles, and I also had a few traditional snacks on the side that went well with the alcohol. Of course I left with some bottles to carry home with too. It’s a lovely hang-out place that I would recommend to everyone who’s into sake.

Sumiyoshi Sake:

My last stop in Fukuoka, just before I boarded to Shinkansen train to Kagoshima, was the stall of Kayanoya (茅乃舎) at Hakata train station. This Fukuoka-based company is famous for their ready-made Japanese seasonings, especially their dashi powder made without artificial flavors and preservatives. As they came highly recommended by my friend D, I dropped by and picked up something for my kitchen. For those who don't cook Japanese meals on a regular basis, their dashi powder came very handy in easy-to-use packets when you like to cook up something quick (like a stew or miso soup) and was as good as the real thing. They also carried other artisan food products as well, like the bottles of mirin and vinegar, or the vegetarian dashi. I just hoped I had bought enough until I came across the stall next time...


Kyushu Travel Series (January 2018):

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