• Shona McCarthy

Don't Discount It: Aeon Mall

When I've travelled to Japan, sooner or later I've usually ended up visiting an Aeon Mall. If you're only in Japan for a very short time, I don't suggest going out of your way to do the same. But if you happen to pass an Aeon Mall incidentally, or if you're in Japan for more than 4 days, I'd say it's worth a look. It's interesting to see the ways Japanese shopping malls differ from those in your homeland.

(Me and a friend at Aeon Mall, 2017. Photos taken by me and Josiah Sillavan.)

If you are really into Instagram or photography, and you happen to be in Japan close to significant holidays or festivals, Aeon Mall will sometimes have specially decorated areas where you can take many fun photos. This is an activity I can recommend as something I've done. I only wish I could have been dressed for the occasion!

But also as with all malls, Aeon Mall can work out to be a good place to simply relax for a while. They usually have beautifully decorated and diverse restaurants. Some will specialise in specific foods. One Aeon Mall I saw in Kyoto had a dedicated tempura restaurant, where you could have all kinds of tempura dishes. There was also a kobe beef restaurant. I was on a tight budget, so I didn't visit either. But on another occasion, I even got to visit an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Osaka Aeon Mall. It was here that I learned that in Japan, all pasta bakes containing red sauce can be referred to as lasagna. Aeon Malls often have massage places where you can play a reasonable amount to get your sore feet or legs repaired. Or just to rub some of the suitcase strain out of your shoulders, like I did. They will also often have movie theatres. Many American films will air in Japan in the original English with Japanese subtitles.

The other thing I will point out about Aeon malls is that their layouts can be unusual. The Kyoto Aeon Mall is made up of many separate buildings, and getting between them to the specific stores and areas you want involves navigating lifts and foot bridges.

Also, some shops won't have walls. As in, they will occupy areas in a floor together, and it will sometimes be hard to tell where one store ends and another begins. What can make this bad is that each of these stores might play their own music loudly. These can end up horribly clashing till they give you a headache.

Also, every time I've gone to an Aeon Mall they've had the heating up very high, meaning that I've had to remove a few layers of clothing to get comfortable there. So, I recommend not wearing anything too heavy there. But I do think it can be a good place to kill a couple of hours while you wait for something else.

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