Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma, Buffet Four Rooms, Costco, (2009-02-16)

This event happened awhile back, I'm only posting it now because it took some time for KL to process the pictures.

My friend borrowed her friend's Costco member card and asked me if I wanted to go shopping with her.  Of course I did cause I'd wanted to check out Costco for a very long time, but without a membership card, I am not able to get in.

Costco in Iruma (入間) happens to be adjacent to Mitsui Outlet Park, so we had lunch at Buffet Four Rooms there and browsed in a few stores before we wandered nextdoor.  Buffet was the run-of-the-mill fare comprised of salads, pizza, pasta, hot food, drinks bar, icecream and cappuccino machine.  At 1600Yen/US$18 p/p for 90 minutes, it's not a bad deal and food was alright.  There's not much to say about the Outlet Park though, it's just like all other outlets with the usual shops such as Coach, Le Cruset, Beam etc.  The purpose of our trip wasn't clothings, so we didn't even walk around the compound once.

At the entrance of Costco, when the guard barely glanced at the front of the borrowed card (which has no picture of the card owner), we breathed a sigh of relief.  Afterall we, particularly my friend, felt like criminals sneaking into a premise illegally!  But what's worse was waiting for us: at the check-out, the cashier placed the card PICTURE SIDE UP on the register to check it against the person using the card, which is ME!  Man, you should've seen the sweat beading on my forehead and in my palms when she did that @_@!  Miraculously she didn't seem suspicious of the picture's skinny face with a short bob next to my fat round face with semi-long hair!  (No, she's not blind) Perhaps because she saw the ipod in our shopping cart that my friend was buying and wanted to close that transaction?  Anyway, whew!

I was really surprised that Costco is EXACTLY like the ones in US.  I didn't think they could build something this gargantuan in Tokyo. (Well, it's not in Tokyo, Iruma is actually in Saitama Prefecture).  Most of the merchandise in the store is from the US too and huge in size as well as bulk.  We were there more like tourists having an eye-opener than grocery shoppers, frankly we couldn't buy most of the products due to their sheer size and volume.  Who could eat a cheesecake the size of a bicycle wheel, or a bag of dinner rolls enough to feed an army or gallon-sized sauces?  Certainly not this duo whose families are made up of two and three persons respectively.  At the end, I only bought a few things that I couldn't get in ordinary supermarkets but my friend did buy a bit more than me.  However, IT IS STILL A BITCH to schlep several kilos (~10 pounds) across town in crowded trains back home, I tell ya.

From our homes to Costco in Iruma, it's a three-hour journey round trip and almost 20 bucks in transportation, we've decided unless we can bump a ride from someone, there'll be no next time.

Access to Mitsui Outlet Park: Take the Seibu Ikebukuro (kanji) Line (西武池袋線) at Ikebukuro Station, get off at Irumashi Station (入間市駅), then take the Seibu bus outside the station and get off at the terminal.  The total ride is about one hour.

P.S.  I'm gonna post pictures of our lunch and what I shopped at Costco tomorrow.

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