Keeping it Real

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.

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4 Responses to Keeping it Real

  1. karen0221 says:

    🙂 Key shop on my street Nisseki Dori and one in the Juban – one month seems a might excessive. The good news is that it was glorious outside today and you got out for a walk!

  2. Lisa says:

    It might be faster to mail the key to the US and have your relatives make copies for you! Unless keys in Japan are wildly different than in North America.

  3. Shelli says:

    And. I thought that it was bad when I was told that it would take 48hrs for a supervisor at the Boston Red Sox headquarters to call me back

  4. I was thinking the same as Lisa. Mail me the key. I’ll get it copied!!! But the thought that Japanese keys aren’t the same made me pause. Wow how hard for you. Does the military base have a PX?

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