When I was little, I used to accompany my mother for her shopping. My mother rarely bought anything for herself, but there were many occasions when she shopped for others. A few times a year in Japan, there are official gift-giving seasons when people send slightly expensive gifts to those who have daily blessed them with generosity and kindness. When these seasons arrived, my mother usually went out to the local department stores to find suitable gifts to send to her families and other important figures in her life.
My mother’s shopping always took a very long time. Since she wanted to make sure that she chose the best gift for each person within the given budget, she spent a generous amount of time walking around each store and contemplating different options, sometimes with the help of a store attendant. Knowing this habit of hers, whenever I accompanied her, I made sure to bring a few toys with me. Once we got to the store, I would find a chair and sit and wait for my mother to finish her task.
One of the department stores had an interesting annex. It had a furniture section near the entrance, and my mother would always spend some time there checking out some items for her gifts. (I didn’t pay attention to what she was looking at. They weren’t furniture for sure.)
On the shelves, dining dishes and glasses were showcased, and as part of the decoration, there were many fancy fake fruits placed around them. These fake fruits were of very good quality, and the fake grapes were particularly admirable. Their colour and even their texture closely resembled the real grapes. Whenever my mother and I arrived at the annex, touching and admiring these fake grapes was the first thing I used to do.
This furniture section had another fun feature. There was a wrack of children’s picture books standing in the midst of the sophisticated furniture display. They were mostly fairytales written for young children. Once I finished admiring the fake grapes, I would go to this wrack of fairytales and read the stories one after another until my mother called for me.
Among all the place my mother went for shopping gifts, the small annex of this department store was by far my favourite. I spent a rather luxurious time sitting on a sofa surrounded by fancy fake fruits and reading fairytales to my heart’s content.