Sony Plaza is not what you think. Although it is a subsidiary of the Sony Group, the place has nothing to do with nice televisions, video games, or robotic dogs.

Sony Plaza began life way back in 1966 on the B2 floor of the Sony Building in Ginza. The idea behind it was to create an "American-style drugstore", whatever that is. The actual result, however, was a funky place which brought plain old, every day products from around the world into metropolitan Japan. In Sony Plaza, there is a window for Japanese consumers to see bits and pieces of the world of strange products from overseas. More importantly (to me, at least), it is a place to find the things I thought I could only get back home.

A large fraction of the floor space at any Sony Plaza store is devoted to cosmetics and other fashion accessories, harking back to its drugstore beginnings. They cater mostly to a young, female demographic, and it shows in the atmosphere they create for the store: so fragile, so refined, as Rivers Cuomo would put it. This makes it hard for fashionably inept male 20-something students, such as myself, to take that first step in, but the foods they sell there force me to go in.

Sony Plaza is the most convenient place to grab a Twix, or a Butterfinger in Japan, and it is still my most reliable source of cheese, and ranch flavored Pringles. Around Halloween, they even sell bags of those tiny-size chocolate bars. They have Tide, and other North American household brands so you can wash your clothes, close your eyes, and inhale the aroma, when you're really feeling homesick and are reaching the final stages of desperation. The chocolate and pringles are enough for me, though.

Although there are many stores that can cater to the needs of the expatriot population in Japan, none of them are as widespread as Sony Plaza. They can be found in many of the largest cities in Japan, and in Tokyo there is usually one near any major station. Sony Plaza is a life-saver If you ever have a need for a Milky Way in Japan, and only have 150 yen in your pocket.


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