Sometimes things about Japan can be so interesting and yet difficult to understand. I may laugh because of the differences, but I always appreciate them.
Shimane Prefecture lies in the Chūgoku region on the coast of the Sea of Japan. I was finally able to devise an itinerary which included a visit to the prefecture and specifically Matsue, last May. I prepared for the trip by reading what material was available online. One of these sources was "Visit Shimane," presented with the cooperation of the Shimane Prefectural Office.
Tourist information included, naturally, shopping information. That is when I saw a store called Antique-ya located in Matsue. The description sounded interesting, and I made a note of it in my planner. I thought, "This must be something pretty good if it's on the Shimane Tourism site."
On the day we visited Matsue we went to Izumo Taisha Shrine, to Matsue Castle, and walked to the beach. It was a lovely day and we decided to drop by Antique-Ya.
My daughter, whose special skill happens to be expert map-reading and a flawless sense of direction, found the store quickly. Yes, there it was. And we had to laugh, at least a little.
Antique-ya did not look like the picture on the website. It looked as if it had been rained on for a long time (probably true). There were so many items outside. I said to Amanda, "They can't possibly bring all of this inside at night. It must just sit out here all the time." There were notebooks filled with plastic sleeves holding old photos and postcards. Although they were in a crate, it didn’t seem as if they would stay dry during a rainstorm. Pottery and dishes, some cracked and broken, filled other boxes set up below the window.
We walked inside gingerly. There was space for one person to look, so we took turns, always being careful not to kick anything on the floor or knock anything off a table. Virtually every inch of the shop was filled with merchandise.
Amanda really wanted to find something to buy, and what finally caught her attention was a Navy medal. The owner removed it from the case, went into another room, and found some loose paper and a sack. He wrapped up the medal and opened his wallet to give Amanda her change. Then we turned cautiously and left. She was happy with her purchase.
And why did we laugh? Because this store was on Shimane's tourist website. Does Shimane have such few shops? It was an interesting place, definitely, and we enjoyed it, but…
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