Lest you think my time here in Tokyo is all festivals, beautiful kimono and amazing food, I thought I would share to you my experience this afternoon.
As a responsible adult I felt I needed to get some copies of the key to our apartment.
So I set off for a key shop my husband looked up online using Google Maps.
Now Google Maps Japan and I have had a bit of an antagonistic relationship together, but today we were in the groove; and I was confident having first looked at the map online that I was headed in the right direction. So I walked a mile or so on a beautiful autumn day, only to arrive at my destination with no key shop in site. A kind young man even stopped and asked if I needed help and confirmed, no key shop in sight.
But putting my thinking cap on, I remembered, that sometimes Google Maps puts the pin on the opposite side of a block from where the building actually is, so I back-tracked and tried again. Still no luck. But this time, I spied a cobbler’s shop which seemed to me like a place that might also have key-making equipment, so I went inside. I gestured and used my minimal Japanese skills to ask about making copies of keys, and the woman working there responded in elaborate Japanese. Defeated, I politely said I didn’t understand, and turned to walk away. At which point she told me in perfect English that there was a place above the nearby train station that made keys and the shop name.
So off I went, in search of the train station and the next shop. And when I arrived, there was a line seven people deep. Yup. SEVEN people deep. But there, to my delight, behind the counter, WAS a key cutting machine AND key blanks, so I contentedly waited my turn. When I was up, I handed him my key and asked for five copies.
And was immediately told no.
He said to head down to the Information Desk and ask for Garden City.
And off I went.
Where six women at the Information Desk fuss about me for almost a half hour, trying to convey that there is a grocery store chain with a store at a place called Garden City, which it turns out is only a few blocks away, and it has a key making kiosk inside. Once we finally determine this piece of information, they hand me a photocopied map and I am on my way. To the THIRD potential key shop, for those of you keeping track.
I arrive at Garden City, find the key kiosk, where the gentleman working there answers me in such rapid-fire Japanese that I can’t even begin to understand him. So I find a grocery-store employee and bring them over for help and explain I want five copies. They have a lengthy conversation at which point the grocery clerk turns to me and says he can make the copies but it will take a long time.
I ask how long.
I kid you not.