Shopping in Chinatown

If you love graphics, don't miss grocery and toy stores in your nearest Chinatown because it's one big colorful candyland. I spent the day in Boston's Chinatown this past Monday, starting with yummy dim sum and from there, browsing the many shops for a taste of Asian culture, including Thai and Japanese. I found this great little shop filled to the brim with the sweetest finds from Sanrio, including Hello Kitty (of course), along with a bunch of other lines I'd never heard of. I snapped a photo of a few things that I picked up, some for me and a few to give friends. They had the cutest packages of tissue to store in your purse with these mochochoco animals all over it, which reminded me of what Japanese call Zakka. Another tissue packet is from Zanchoo, which I'm guessing is another Japanese character starring a bunny rabbit. (Everything shown in the photo was $20 total, so Chinatown is also a fun treat when you're running low on cash.)

Just around the corner from this shop, we wandered into a grocery store where I spotted a tin of cherry mints and a box of cookies with Hello Kitty on them, along with some really cute bubblegum from Marukawa with frogs and colorful fruit graphics on them. I found some super cute bunny ceramics at a dishware shop, but I didn't feel like holding onto them all day, so I left them on the shelf. We loved browsing the stores and filling our bags with goodies and plan to do it again sometime soon.

The next time you visit a major city, make it a goal to visit Chinatown. Also, if you're ever in San Francisco, don't miss their Japantown (in addition to Chinatown). Tip: If you're into trendy hair, you have to stop into a Chinatown hair salon, particularly one that has a young edgy staff. Not only are they alot less expensive than other city salons, but the stylists have a way with scissors, color, and interesting shapes. I decided a few years ago to go for a short haircut in San Francisco's Chinatown and for $20, it was the best haircut I'd ever had. Just bring a photo because in my experience, no one spoke a word of English. I didn't have a photo, I just let the stylist do whatever he wanted, relying solely on what his creative vision was for me.

Do you like to explore Chinatown? Which is your favorite and what do you like about it? Any tips for Chinatown shopping for my upcoming visit to New York City?

(images from decor8 copyright 2006)