This episode of Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ) was a sequel – they returned to the bijou shopping district theme, this time trying out the Tateishi Nakamise (立石仲見世) shopping area.

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Aiba-kun’s assistants were the same as in the last episode – Watabe Ken-san and Sawabe Yuu-san. Since I already mentioned that I was getting tired of seeing these two last week, I was less than thrilled to see the same pair this time.

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Anyway, the Tateishi Nakamise shopping district is a narrow strip with strong competitors – a supermarket and two convenience stores – practically next door.

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The first stop for the three hosts was a clothing shop that had been around for 60 years.

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The gentleman in charge looked like he might have been working there since its start, but what’s with the white tee-shirt? If you’re going to sell clothes, wouldn’t it make sense to be dressed slightly better?

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Well, actually he doesn’t have to. You see, he knows his customers, and he has sizes and features (like elasticity) that they might have trouble finding in the stores that are more generic. It was originally a custom-made clothing (注文服 – chuumonfuku) store.

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Even Aiba-kun found something to bring back home with him.

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Before they left, they decided to investigate the place’s attic (similar to the way they looked into the basement of a shop in the last shopping district episode).

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Among the highlights were a very stylized mannequin . . .

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. . . and an ancient sewing machine.

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But while some shops have staying power, the lifeblood of a shopping district like this are the eateries, and Aiba-kun soon leads his cadre into the first of many meals.

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I can’t really blame them for going at the food this time, even though I’m wary of food episodes. After all, they’ve been quite diverse about topics and we haven’t seen the standard mouth-watering gourmet shots in a while. And the food was just sitting there so invitingly . . . .

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I got a lot of screenshots of Aiba-kun chowing down.

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Those were just for starters – they went on to the roast chicken next . . .

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. . . and Aiba-kun took a chunk out of a huge piece. The other two just watched in awe.

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They went straight to the next food station – a gyoza place that was offering its products at an excellent price.

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Naturally, they couldn’t pass that up.

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Aiba-kun did mention that he gains 3 kg on location shoots like this.

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At least we got some shots of the food being prepared and Aiba-kun also chatted with the owners. It wasn’t all “umai!”

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There was no end to the food, though, with a place specializing in tuna coming into view next.

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And so it went. I’m so glad I saw this episode right before cooking dinner – it left me with half a dozen different cravings that would otherwise have been blunted by snacking.

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I wonder if Aiba-kun managed to keep it to just 3 kilos . . .

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. . . because it didn’t end with the tuna place.

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They even went for senbei, which will probably make HamaKisu viewers nostalgic – recalling that epic challenge where the Kis-My-Ft2 guys ate 1000 of the hefty crackers.

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Oh, and even the senbei shop has been frying them up for over 60 years:

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Bon appetite!

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For those keeping track, there was two varieties of chicken, gyoza with rice, tuna, jelly strips, and senbei.

So after that tasty whirlwind, how did we end up with this picture?

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It had started to rain out, and the guys spotted a place with umbrellas, but it didn’t look like anyone was at work so they rang the doorbell (this was one of those stores at the bottom floor of a home, by the look of it.

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Apparently, rainy days are no good for selling umbrellas?

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Well, she would know – the store has been in operation since Showa 2 (1927) and she’s the third generation.

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The umbrellas are hand-made, and she explains how she does it.

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Despite the labor that does into them, the umbrellas are very reasonably priced – the yellow model she shows off is only 1000 yen (around $10).

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Just when you’d think the show would end there, they find something else that attracts their attention – a classic security box for the shopping district guards.

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Even if this episode was entirely about food, I don’t think I would hold it against this show. They’ve mixed things up enough so that I’m not worried that they’ll dip into gourmet purgatory – that place where some shows go, never to recover again. Also, even though they were eating they were active – it wasn’t just an in-studio or sit-down meal.

But it wasn’t entirely about food – there was the clothing store in the beginning and the umbrella store at the end, and both helped to ensure that there was variety within the episode. Where I live, there are no stores with the pedigree or, lacking a better word, quaintness of these shops in Tokyo’s shopping districts, and it’s important to reflect on what we’ve lost with every Walmart or equivalent that pops onto the landscape. And how about fast food? It didn’t look like the guys had to wait very long for food, and the quality was far beyond what a person could get at a McDonald’s.