Good news! Apparently, I’m not the only person on planet Earth to sometimes go to Costco to just hang out. The free samples, the office chair races, the mounds of 88-to-a-pack of derelict baby toys. It’s dinner and a night out all in one, and now the residents of Hiroshima can enjoy my personal Wonderland . . . as long as they spend $32 (3,000 yen) to park.
Yes, $32 just to park. That’s less than two days of parking at Disneyland, and they don’t even offer tram rides to the cashier! But, wait. Costco knows their parking fee is a little cray, so they offer a deal: Make a purchase of $53.50 (5,000 yen) or great, and you get an hour of free parking. Make a purchase of $107 (10,000 yen) or greater, and get two hours of “free” parking. In other words, it’s a race. Hiroshima shoppers need to plan their routes before parking. Dad grabs the twelve-pack of tires, Mom hustles for the two-for-one stove deal, and the little’uns fill their tiny hands with all the child-size jars of mustard they can handle. They better hope they find everything and it costs more than 4,999 yen, otherwise the 3,000 they spent outside just went to waste.
Apparently, the astronomical fee is a protective measure: Officials predict mad traffic at the popular warehouse/store, and the three-level parking structure can only accomodate 1,050 cars. Only. It’s also across the street from a large baseball stadium, so Costco doesn’t want anyone crowding their lot just to while away their day while watching the game.
If that 3,000 yen is a bit much for you, though, Costco offers parking meters, too: Just 100 yen ($1.07) for 10-20 minutes.
Yeah. Right. Good luck with that. Because Costco isn’t literally a giant warehouse maze that requires wheel dollies in place of shopping carts.