Sunday, August 27, 2006

Messy Hands

There's a chain of stores called Tokyu Hands which specializes in items the Japanese might call "lifestyle goods". Each floor is devoted to different categories of items. It's different from most department stores in that it carries a large selection of craft-making items and DIY tools. Unlike in the U.S., it's rather difficult to locate such things, at least in Tokyo.

I think this is in part because space restrictions in Japanese homes discourage people from pursing more elaborate hobbies such as those related to carpentry. Most men don't have garages they can set up shop in. Most people don't have garages that they can keep their cars in for that matter. The best they tend to have are car ports or parking areas just big enough to park in.

Other reasons probably include the fact that the Japanese already have a whole host of hobbies as part of their culture which are different than western pursuits and men don't seem squeamish about learning things like flower arrangement. The former president of my former company used to proudly display pictures of his flowers.

The flyer pictured above says "Hands Quality Bargain" and offers a whole host of items for sale. I'm not sure what "Hands Messe" is supposed to refer to but my best guess is "Hands Message".


Roy said...

I'm the first commenter. Hooray! :-D

If you go out of Tokyo to Chiba or Kanagawa there are a growing number of "Home Centres" as they call them which are basically huge DIY stores.

Caines, Conan to name a few. I was surprised when I visited them for the first time. Some are really big and can hold their own against Home Depot.

Shimachu, Super-Value and Doito are a few smaller ones that you can find inside Tokyo. Most of these stores are only accessible by car so the average commuter would not see them unless they went out of their way to go there.

Shari said...

Ah, Roy. You're such a gentleman. I also think you're my only reader at this early time. I suspected that outside of Tokyo, things are rather different but being car-less and having long exhausted my fascination with exploring the nooks and crannies of Japan (that happened in my first 5 years here), I haven't ventured out much as of late.

Ken Y-N said...

"Messe" is actually the German for "sale" or something, I believe, although a dictionary tells me its more a market display of items, or something. Or am I getting confused with "soldes"?

However, it could very well also be "message"...

BTW, thanks for the BlogRoll entry!

Shari said...

I love your site, Ken! I wish I'd found it a long time ago. I use the information you post as fodder for discussion with private students as well as food for thought when pondering cultural differences. You perform a valuable service.

You may be right about it being German since other German words are part of Japanese (arubeito). Thanks for the comment!

Roy said...

As you know I've been in Japan for about as long as you have and for a while I had lost my fascination with things Japanese too. But every so often it gets revived.

When I was into cycling I rode my bike everywhere and saw a different side of Tokyo and the Japanese countryside.

Then getting the car it was another completely new eye-opening experience.

Then blogging. Places and shops I would otherwise have not really paid attention to I now go out of my way to visit, find out about the history etc for the sake of the blog and I find it really enjoyable. I've also recently have taken some first time visitors to Japan on walking tours of Tokyo and that's fun and refreshing as well.

Maybe your blog will revive your excitement for Japanese things again?

Shari said...

I'm thinking you may be right, Roy, about blogging reviving my interest though the thing I really enjoy is speaking with the people. Talking to them about what they think about things and learning about their lives is the thing I enjoy most.

When you face Tokyo as a mass of strangers, there's all this frustration and hassle but when you relate to people individually, it's quite rewarding.

Kristin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kristin said...

Where is this new store located? Is it near Makuhari Messe by any chance? I would think the "Messe" part is from the location name.

"Message" would either be spelled with the English spelling or as "Messaji" I would think. And I think it's a stretch to guess it would be German.

Janek Mann said...

Messe is actually German for a fair (usually used in the context of a trade fair). Kind of makes sense in this context...