Two of my favorite cities in the world are Paris and Tokyo.  If someone told me I had to pick somewhere outside of the United States to live, those would be my top two choices, and it’d be tough to pick one over the other.  I love the romance, food, fashion, history, and beauty of Paris, and I love Tokyo’s crazy juxtaposition of sleek high tech modern culture with quaint tradition and serene nature.

And of course, I love to shop in both places.  Paris is obviously a no brainer, with it’s impeccable fashion pedigree, but for me, shopping in Tokyo is pretty incredible too.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. I’m 5’2″ and have a small build, so clothing there fits me really well.  It’s one of the few places I’ve been able to buy a pair of lined trousers off the rack and have them fit like they were made for me.
  2. I will never forget walking into department stores there, and being greeted by rows of smiling women wearing suits and white gloves who were calling out friendly greetings and encouraging me to shop and enjoy (like I needed any encouragement).  It was like having shopping cheerleaders.  Awesome.
  3. The clerk who rings you up typically doesn’t just stick your purchase in a bag – he or she will often pull out a beautiful piece of paper and wrap it perfectly first.  It’s like walking out with a bag of gifts for yourself, which I guess is accurate whether they’re wrapped or not – but when they’re wrapped, they feel like gifts too.  And then you get to come home and open them all.  Whee!
  4. I think the Japanese design ethic is so incredibly charming – whether it is something super modern and functional, or kitschy-funky, colorful, and adorable.

Needless to say, whenever I had the good fortune to travel to Japan, I bought tons and tons of stuff.  I still have many things from my trips there, and I treasure them.

The other day though, I did come across some items I bought there that I have never used – chopsticks holders.  When I was there, I couldn’t resist buying them – they came in so many different shapes and colors and all of them were beautiful and unique.  Look:

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It doesn’t bother me that they don’t match, but I’m a little puzzled as to why I bought only five, instead of say, an even six. Was I running low on money?  Quite possibly.  I chalk it up to being young and stupid and never having really entertained before, so I was just thinking about what I liked instead of what might actually be useful.  But in the end, it doesn’t matter that I don’t have an even amount, because I never even used the five that I had.

It’s not that we don’t use chopsticks – we do.  Both Ron and I like sushi, but when we get it as takeout we tend to use the disposable wooden chopsticks that come with our order.  We do have some metal and wooden chopsticks that I bought during my travels, but even if we eat with those, I never set a formal table with chopstick holders -we just rest them on the edge of the plate – or more often than not, the styrofoam takeout box (have I mentioned I’m not a fan of doing dishes?  I’m not).  Lazy?  Yeah, I guess.  But I’ve come to recognize that lazy is who we are.  These chopstick holders have been rattling around in my utensil drawer for about fifteen years, and though I think they’re beautiful and I like looking at them, I have to admit that I wouldn’t really display them, and for us, they are not useful.

I’m having a hard time letting go of them, though.  Partly because I just like them, and partly because with all the stuff going on with Fukushima, I don’t know when the next time will be that I go back to Japan.  It makes me so deeply sad to think about the effects of the radiation on the people who live there, and I know that it may be years and years – possibly even past my lifetime, before things get sufficiently cleaned up.  I’m grateful I had the chance to go there when I did.

I’ve decided to keep just one of the chopstick holders – the one with the pink bird on it – to use as a holder for my favorite earrings when I’m not wearing them.  It gets it out of the drawer and will remind me of a place I love so much, while also being useful.

The others I’m letting go, as a more sensible set of four.  Sayonara.

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