Rainbow Town

I like to spend my free time at a shopping mall. The first mall I had ever visited as a small child was called Rainbow Town. When it was built, people made noise about it because it was the first underground mall in western Japan -probably the first mall either on the ground or underground. The neighbors and the relatives of my family asked, “Did you go to Rainbow Town yet?” as daily greetings. My grandfather was fascinated by the concept of a mall. He often talked with wonder about what an artificial town was like and how it could exist underground.

 Since the mall was located in the city next to ours, my grandparents and I finally went there one day by train. Although the destination was a mall, our purpose was sightseeing rather than shopping. My grandfather kept talking about his concern over sufficient air in the underground mall, while my grandmother got up early in the morning to fix lunch for all of us. We were headed for a mall as if we were going to NASA. The mall was crowded with cool, urban shoppers, and had a stream and a big fountain along the walk. I had never seen so many shops and restaurants gathering in one place. My grandparents were amazed that the mall was so bright with full electricity and decorative with water. They also couldn’t believe that there were restaurants, which used the fire to cook, though it was underground. My grandfather reminded me over and over that people and cars were passing through above us.

 Because all the benches were taken, we sat on the rim of the fountain for lunch. We had my grandmother’s handmade rice balls and Japanese tea from our canteen there. Right in front of us was a nice restaurant where many customers had their decent lunch and a good time. My grandfather said to me triumphantly, “Do you know how much they have to pay in there? They’re stupid!” We left for home without eating or buying anything at the mall. My first mall experience wasn’t so good, but I love a shopping mall so much still…

episode from An Old Tree in Kyoto / Hidemi Woods

I often get a surprisingly discounted item

A clothing store in the mall is going to close for good and I went there today for the closing sale. I often get a surprisingly discounted item when a store is closing. It has helped me save much money. Recently, more and more stores have gone
out of business in the area where I live, and the mall I went today has also had less and less shops. As a new shop hasn’t opened, they put tables and chairs for customers to rest where the old store used to be. Now the mall has the break areas everywhere. While I enjoy a sale, I lose a store to shop one after another around me…

back in time 6/23

I found out that there was a downtown area in the region of my new place and went to look around. It was a twenty-minute train ride from my apartment. According to an online map, a shopping mall building was right next to the train station, but further information wasn’t available anywhere on the Internet. When I actually got off the train and stood at the station, my jaw dropped. A shopping space that had been called a mall on a map was a one-story shabby building with few stores. It was like a swap meet, rather than a mall. The main street in front of the station seemed to be caught in a time warp. I felt back in time walking through the old, forlorn shops. Murmuring ‘Downtown? Can’t be!’ I decided to try another shopping mall about a mile off. After I walked for 25 minutes through rice paddies and vacant lots, a huge suburban shopping center appeared. It was what we called a mall. I felt greatly relieved that I found a place to shop for my life in a new town. The shopping center had the free shuttle from the station. My long walk was totally lost labor…