「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Turning shopaholic

By Rebecca Quin


I've never been a big fan of shopping.

As a teenager, I was dragged from store to store by my mum to buy clothes. I should have been happy that I was getting all of these new threads to show off to my friends, but I only experienced one feeling — crushing boredom. As I started to earn my own money to buy things, I would always look online for what I needed. It was so much easier: One click of a button, a week-long wait, then the product would be at my door.

Flash forward and I'm living in Japan, where retail culture is taken to a whole new — and extremely well-executed — level.

In Tokyo, there are shops literally everywhere. It sometimes feels like you can't walk ten yards without entering a store (often without realizing it). Inside some train stations, you can walk straight from the ticket turnstile to a multilevel department store without leaving the building. Hungry? Pick from a range of snacks at an impossibly tiny kiosk at the entrance to the station. Need a pair of shoes? Shops like Its Demo have branches in the underground passages between platforms.

Step out onto the street and you've got shops that specialize in selling only one thing. One thing! Shops in the U.K. would never take that risk — everybody's always looking for ways to diversify and expand their business. But here in Japan it's a case of do one thing and do it well enough that people will queue round the block to get it — a sight that's fairly common across the city.

I'm also always amazed at the longevity of stores in Japan. Around where I live there's a dusty covered arcade of stores that look as though they've been there since the '50s and have never changed their product lines. I recently stopped into an old-school hat store which stocked examples of fashion that were so retro I'm sure my own grandma would describe them as vintage. Yet these shops keep going, and growing. This particular store was having a closing-down sale as it was expanding to bigger premises!

So what does that mean for someone who's not into shopping? Well I'll have to admit, my dislike of shopping is starting to melt. I think it's to do with the way shops are presented in Japan. Everything is so artfully laid out (especially the food) and it's one of my favorite activities to wander around a depachika on the weekend. That's not to mention the ridiculously good customer service. (Try asking a store in the U.K. if they'll gift-wrap something for free. They won't.)

I guess, as long as I don't buy anything, it's OK, right?



The Japan Times ST: April 7, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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