As you exit the train station and head north past the police box, on your right is the salvation of everyone crippled by the cost of living in Tokyo. A wonderous little outpost of earthly delights, all of which can be bought for a mere 99 yen.
Welcome to Shop 99.
No one in their right mind would dream of eating anything from the Dollar Store - what, you'd actually risk swallowing a spoonful of marshmallow paste or Dr. Dingo's Beef Jerky? But trust in the progressive spirit of Nippon to perfect a flawed concept. It's both the blessing and the curse of Shop 99 that everything costs 99 yen. Half a kilogram of pancake mix for a dollar - who can't get behind that? But when a single apple costs the same amount, your wallet feels a bit bitch-slapped. Still, the only grocery shopping I don't do at Shop 99 is buying in bulk - which you can't really do when your fridge is the size of a shoebox and and your room is the size of, well, a larger shoebox.
In other words, my life as a consumer revolves around this damned store.
Did I mention it's open 24 hours a day? And about eighty times during every one of those hours, you'll hear the Shop 99 Theme Song - an unsettlingly upbeat slab of uncut saccharine J-Pop. The childishly cheerful song begs for a sing-along, as you imagine the anonymously adorable munchkin singer bouncing around the recording booth in pigtails. What I find most distracting about it is the ludicrously busy bassline, which bumps up against the elementary melody like a toad on crystal meth.
And regardless of how truly, unbelievably annoying the song is, you'll find yourself humming it all the way back home. Maybe even singing yourself to sleep at night. Just thank yourself that you can't understand the words.