Japanese bread lines

Today was a blessed day off – though unfortunately, with my hand-me-down washing machine on the blink, a trip to the laundromat was in order.  It is my observation that laundromats are rarely as interesting as they are on sitcoms, with attractive members of the opposite sex flirtatiously folding their silky unmentionables in far less supply than advertised.

Still, while I waited for the spin cycle to complete, I thought I’d go for a bit of an explore in a new area.  I happened to stumble across a bakery.  While bakeries aren’t that rare in Japan, they’re not quite the institution they are elsewhere.

Japanese bakeries have a few key differences to Australian bakeries.  First, the biggest loaf you can buy is half-sized, though you can choose how thick the slices are:

The various products are displayed cafeteria style – for some reason, this holds true at every Japanese bakery I’ve been to.  Grab a tray and pair of tongs at the entrance, grab what you want and they’ll ring it up at the counter.  I was a little surprised at first, Japan being famous for its mask wearing and such, but it’s apparently not very big on the sneeze guards.

If you have very good eyes, you can see what they advertise as a “meat pie” in the top left hand corner of the picture below.  I was pretty excited at this discovery, having never found a decent meat pie in Japan before… and so it continued.  There was far more pastry than meat: though perhaps instead of meat, we should say “meat”.  Still, I appreciate the effort bakery people – I can understand you’re competing with a pretty low bar here.

Well, isn’t that just delightful?  These are designed to look like Doraemon, a very famous comic book character:

A pretty good piece of bread modeling, wouldn’t you say?

We have apricot danishes on the left, but on the right, we’ve got sweet potato danishes.  Sweet potato is used in lots of traditional sweets in Japan – my pick is sweet potato ice cream.

And another “character” shaped treat.  This fellow is from My Neighbor Totoro, an anime by the same studio that made Spirited Away, though Totoro is arguably far more famous in Japan.  I still haven’t seen it yet, which always causes gasps of disbelief when I’m forced to admit it to my co-workers.

Probably the most interesting of the lot,  “okonomiyaki bread”.  Like it’s hotplate fried sibling, it’s smothered in sauce, mayonnaise and bonito (tuna) flakes.  Not too bad at all for a little over $1, but I’d still go for the bigger version any time.

The best bit about this bakery was that as well as having plenty of original creations, my total bill for four items was $6.  Great value, perfect for a study lunch while waiting for one’s underthings to dry.

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