By Peter Sidell
If you're heading to the eastern part of Shizuoka city to visit impressive Gokoku-jinja shrine, then a good place to stop off after your prayers is Mark Is, an enjoyable little shopping centre just up the road. You'll be able to sit down and have a snack (or a meal if you arrive at lunchtime or dinnertime), then look around and find some bargains to take back.
There are three floors of shops: the first is called the 'Trend Floor', the second the 'Stylish Floor', the third the 'Wandering Floor'. The fourth, fifth, sixth floors and the roof are for parking, and they've sadly had to go without names.
The trends on the Trend Floor seem largely to come from the high street: there are large Zara and H&M stores, as well as Bershka, Retro Girl, Right-On, and Murasaki Sports 'another style'. There are also stores for kitchenware and cosmetics (separately), a Kaldi Coffee Farm for imported coffee and food, a Krispy Kreme and a Mont Thabor bakery, and a big supermarket.
The Stylish Floor doesn't seem noticeably more stylish (or less trendy) than the Trend Floor. There are a couple of shops selling business clothing, but there's also plenty of floorspace belonging to UniQlo, Muji, ABC Mart and Sports Depo.
The Wandering Floor is a bit of a mixed bag. There's a big Nojima electronics store, a pet shop and a hundred yen store, a number of shops selling clothes for babies, infants and children. Much of this floor is given over to dining; there are a handful of restaurants and cafes for curry, pizza, sushi or other kinds of meals, or if you're in more of a hurry, you can go to a food court for burgers, ramen, takoyaki or other such cheap'n'cheerful fare.
Opening hours are 10:00am to 9:00pm daily, with a couple of exceptions: the MaxValu supermarket stays open until 9:30pm, the restaurants (not the food court) on the third floor open from 11:00am to 10:00pm.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.