Ramble On

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Ramen Gladiator

Well, I thought I was finished with my posts about the Japan trip.  As I was cleaning up the photos on my (work) blackberry and my (personal) iPhone, I found a couple more things I wanted to share.  Then we'll be done with it.  So even though I said I was done, well, sue me.

Recognizing that during the first part of the week I was going to be tied down on post for most of my schedule, I decided to venture back down to the Subodai Mae train station area about a half mile off post for dinner.  I'd seen a Yoshinoya down there, and since my USC classmates and I used to go to one these fast food noodle places just across the street from campus in Los Angeles, in the worst case I would end up there.

I asked the office staff before leaving for the day if there were any recommendations and I told them about the Yoshinoya plan, my fall back.  They said that it would be fine, but just a little farther down was a second noodle place that was better - I figured as long as I could find the place I'd go.

Sure enough, I found it two blocks down.  This one uses a vending machine to take orders, and I needed to get help with it.  After you put the money in, three big white buttons flashed on different sections of the machine.  I figured that the one by the change return slot was the "cancel" button, but looking at them closely they all had the same japanese letters  in large red ink, with smaller letters around them - I'm guessing that the typology I was seeing probably said "press here" and the important stuff, maybe "eat here" or "take out," was in the smaller font, but of course, I couldn't read any of it.

I settled for a chicken dish, as shown in the photo, with a bowl of rice and a little side salad which was very kimche like, just not as spicy.  At 590 Yen - maybe $7, it was a good deal.  The young woman behind the counter took my ticket and then came back with the food in a few minutes. 

I couldn't figure out the story with the vending machine, since they still needed the counter help.  Maybe putting the interface to the cash register up front is more efficient...I am sure one of my knowledgeable consulting readers will have an opinion.

There was one other Japanese retail experience that I have left to share.  After I got to the airport for the trip home, I found that I had an hour to kill before the United counter even opened for check-ins.  I took a walk around the shopping mall area (not the duty free area) and found a "glasses express" booth.  They offered a simple process:

1) Choose frame
2) Choose lens
3) Get eye exam
4) Wait
5) Pay 10,000 yen and walk out with your new glasses 

These were very fashionable Japanese frames and I couldn't resist all this service for only $120 or so, and the convenience of walking away with new glasses (on my New Year's list) and heading over to check in sold me.

I talked to the clerk and she said, yes, most people get the new glasses right then and there.  Well, of course, for me it wasn't going to be as easy as all that, since I need bifocals.  But they did them, and it was still pretty easy, and it was going to be about 220,000 Yen instead (still, about half the price I paid for my last pair here in DC).  So I was sold.

As promised, a doctor showed up and did the exam, and he was very careful to explain my prescription and the process.  They would have the factory make the lenses and then arranged to mail them to me at the house in Alexandria.  It wasn't exactly while you wait service, but it was pretty good anyway!

Sure enough the glasses arrived yesterday.  Here's a photo (my last one about the trip) that I took at the counter to remind me what I had bought.  A final reminder of a great business trip!

No comments: