09/08/2009

Free for me and You too!

I'm not sure about anybody else but I hail from the U.S. of A. where we have a little saying that goes, "If it's free, it's for me!"
Yes, we love free stuff better than Christmas presents and birthday cakes combined no matter what the sh*t is, where it comes from, how we got it or what we can or can't do with it.
I suspect we are not alone in this compulsion.

In Japan, however.........well, most J-Folks appear to have a real aversion to all things gratis and tend to generally treat freebies with disdain.
Indeed paying your way seems to be deeply embedded in the J-Character along with all the responsibilities and rewards that surely follow behind.
Case in point- try to imagine a country where grown, successful, adult Men pay lovely, young, seductive Girls for, wait for it..... conversation. In the West you may recall conversation, it's the thing that happens after sex.

But I digress.

My point is freebies of any kind are damn difficult to come across on this side of the Pond (perhaps for good reason) so yesterday I was very pleasantly suprised to discover

Harimaya Station.
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A Free (yes, you read that right) Cafe that offers Osembe (rice cracker) snacks along with soft drinks, coffee and a perfectly comfortable, bright, spacious room to enjoy same. I pulled in quite accidently and had no real expectations but exited refreshed and impressed by the efficient yet warm and laid-back atmoshpere waiting to greet you inside.

Located on Kawaramachi just north of Maurutamachi and directly across the street from the Western edge of Gosho, Harimaya graciously offers their wares as a brand of product advertisement and while I was there chugging coffee I saw plenty of K-Folks gratefully partaking in the generous spirit of the enterprise as they chilled, munched, sipped, smiled and generally enjoyed the gift.
Books and newspapers were in abundance (bring your own), wallets and purses unopened and no one seemed to be in any hurry to hit the doors as they took a wel-deserved break from the sweltering Sunday heat.

Bottom line?
If you're banging around Gosho and need a spot to decompress as you enjoy some delicious coffee and light snacks then drop in here and your budget won't suffer a scratch!

And if you absolutely feel the urge to plunk down some of your hard-earned cash, my Tourisitc Friends, then hit the Gift Shop on your way out the door.
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Easy to pack, feather light to carry and a tasty Japanese treat for your good neighbors back home!
posted by Billy at 12:16 | Kyoto (Japan)
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