I am back home from Japan and this is what I brought! I noticed the airlines put a special tag on my suitcase that had in big bold letters HEAVY. So that is what happens because B. and I went shopping in Tokyo.
Finally on Saturday we had enough time for the big trip to the bead quarter. It turns out all the bead shops are centered in one area - Akakusabashi. All we had was a map in Japanese on the little net book that had no printer so B. went down to the hotel lobby and asked for help in finding the web site and printing a map. She noticed how slowly the young girl worked and that she made two copies of the map. She was smiling very broadly when she gave B. the one copy!
So we got a taxi, gave the driver the map, and 40 minutes later had crossed the larger part of Tokyo to arrive in a welter of bead shops. He dropped us off in front of a larger one - West 5 - and we began! They also had many buttons, lace and threads but also some great chains. As we were paying we saw a copy of the map we were using on the wall! Later we saw a shopper with the same map in hand.
Japan does not rely on street signs or a proper number system, so we just began wandering from shop to shop. Many had crystals and seed beads such as we could get from Fire Mountain, so we concentrated on the weird little shops with unusual things. We probably spent the most in a shop with horn and shells and in another that had a huge selection of acrylic beads. I thought I did not like acrylic beads but they had so many different kinds and at such low prices I had to give up my opposition to them.
It was here I had my best experience with Japanese shop keepers. I went up to the two female cashiers and asked in my best Japanese if they had a toilet. They looked at each other in complete bewilderment. Then I grabbed my crotch and grimaced and they broke out in peals of laughter and pointed me upstairs! For one shining moment, we as women, completely understood each other. And we were surrounded with beads.