Posts Tagged shopping

Jul
12

Changes

Posted by on Saturday, 12 July, 2008

If there is still anyone reading this (I wouldnt blame you if you didn’t, looking at my past record of, oh, 1 post every 3 months) I would like to update you on some changes which have kept me busy the last few months…

I’ve moved from Ota-ku (大田区):
Nishi-magome in Ota-ku

to Setagaya-ku (世田谷区):
Dog Cafe in Setagaya

If you’re not familiar with Tokyo’s geography, Ota-ku is the ward in Tokyo which is farthest to the South-west, bordering Kanagawa-ken (where Kawasaki and Yokohama are). Setagaya-ku is North of Ota-ku, a bit closer to the city centers of Shibuya and Shinjuku. Setagaya feels like a more urban neighborhood than Ota – it’s more youthful and active with schools and universities.

What are the “hot” spots in Setagaya-ku then? The following three I rank as top 3 as far as shopping&dining is concerned.

Futagotamagawa
Shimokitazawa (in Japanese)
Sangenjaya (in Japanese)

Jan
22

Over-priced chocolatier Noka coming to Japan

Posted by on Monday, 22 January, 2007

Noka Chocolate
On 30th of March this year, new fashionable shopping/business/leisure district Tokyo Midtown opens in Roppongi, Tokyo (it’s situated in the old Self-Defense Force Agency Headquarters location between Roppongi and Akasaka).

I browsed through the list of shops which are to open in the complex, and one of them was, to my big surprise, Noka Chocolate. If you haven’t lived under a rock without Internet-access for the last few months you would know that this is a Texas-based chocolate company who produces ridiculously over-priced chocolates with, if you believe their critics, little to no value added to the original chocolate bars they buy from France.

You can read the whole expose on Noka Chocolate here: Dallas Food expose on Noka Chocolate
and there are various of other sites commenting on this:
Slash Food, Boing Boing, Crunchgear

So, the “the world’s most expensive chocolate” is coming to Japan. It’s been here before, temporarily, as part of various department stores’ Valentine’s Day specials (for instance at Mitsukoshi), but now they are also opening up shop permanently. I did a quick search in Japanese for ノカ チョコレート (Noka Chocolate) and did not get any relevant hits commenting on the recent news, but only links to where you can buy it, and some reviews: Enjoytokyo reviews Noka Chocolate (To sum up this review, the reviewer was impressed by the luxurious packaging, the high price and a deep, dark, bitter taste.)

Unfortunately, I think the Japanese will flock to this new store and happily line up to get a piece of the exclusive goodness which they promise their customers. The brand image is extremely attractive for the Japanese market, it has a definate “high end” and “exclusive” air to it; which Japanese will literally eat up (pun intended). Secondly, the price. The price will probably be ridiculously high, as it is in the US as well. I think they will manage to squeeze out another few 100% mark-up just for the Japanese market – and if there is anything that Japanese consumers are suckers for, it is exclusive brands which are highly priced.
“Price = Quality” in the minds of many Japanese shoppers which plays right into the business plan of Noka…

Of course, I have nothing personally against Noka – if their business works and they make money from it, fine – but I do not approve of shady business practices where companies are not honest about what they do and do not do.

May
31

Japan the fabulous

Posted by on Wednesday, 31 May, 2006

It has been a hectic few weeks with few updates, and I am truly sorry about that. I have had numerous ideas for posts, but lack of time has stopped me.

Now I am overseas on a business trip, it is the first time in two years that I am back in my “homeland” of Europe, and it has made me reflect on my situtation as a foreigner in Japan.

There are surely a lot of things about Japan that I absolutely despise and cannot understand; but there are so many more things that are so great they should not be underestimated. Just a simple thing as shopping on weekends. I know it differs from country to country in Europe, but I think Sweden is sort average when it comes to business hours. How on earth are you supposed to enjoy shopping on weekends (the only real time you have time, if you have a full time job) if stores open at noon and close at 4 PM? Further, I estimate 75% of all shops are fully closed on Sundays, and the ones that are open are open as short (or shorter) as on Saturdays.

This is never a problem in Japan, where most shops are always open from 10-11 AM to 8-9 PM everyday including weekends. Sure, stores are occasionally closed – but what is most common is that many department stores are closed on a regular weekday instead; and not necessarily once a week, but once a month or less. Fabulous. Truly fabulous.

Speaking of shopping. (Sounds like I love shopping… I don’t, but hey, sometimes you gotta do it, and it’s better to do it in a fun, relaxed way isn’t it) The amount and variety of products available in Japan is purely amazing. Speaking in European terms, I doubt there is a city in Europe, maybe except London, that has a greater market for consumer products. And I am not only talking about luxury goods or electronics (where Tokyo undoubtedly is #1), but also cheap shopping is fantastic. Where else are the cities filled with “100-yen stores” (where everything costs exactly 100 yen, or close to; i.e. roughly $.90) that has everything from napkins, cutlery, cups, frying pans, rakes, handbags, chips, noodles, sodas, etc. etc. etc. There is one big myth about Japan and that is that everything is expensive. It is utterly false. The living expenses as in rent etc. may be high, but otherwise you can live dirt cheap here. And it’s fabulous.