Friday, January 11, 2008

Truth In "Advertising"

Boy howdy, is this shop named appropriately.

There are some types of shops which are omnipresent in Japan and that you encounter with such frequency that they soon fail to be of particular interest. Among the sorts which you see very often are tea and sushi shops as well as a plethora of convenience stores, coffee shops, and noodle counter places. One type of shop which is common yet still tends to hold one's interest are the increasingly ubiquitous 100 yen shops. They consistently hold the interest for those seeking cheap goods made in almost any Asian country besides Japan.

Click the picture to see a very large version to make the shop's contents easier to see.

One of the things you don't tend to see are shops selling kitschy American pop culture junk the likes of which would very likely not fit in the average Japanese person's home with ease and style. While biking around on New Year's Eve, my husband ran across the closed shop pictured above with a very curious collection of items including a Hostess snack cakes display, an American Krispy Kreme sign, and a large plastic soft serve cone.

This sort of junk is the very type of thing one tends to see at flea markets and perhaps even antique shops for bottom feeding collectors back home, but it's rather a rare sight in Japan. I find myself wondering how someone assembles this sort of inventory, considering much of it is promotional and didn't originate in Japan. I figure this person must go on some pretty interesting shopping excursions, comb eBay regularly, or have some good connections.

What I find more curious though, is the thinking of the folks who might want to possess such items. Sure, there's a certain campy appeal if you look at these items in a certain way, but it takes a special sort of person to want to put a Jolly Green Giant in their domicile. Of course, if anyone ever demands the still smiling head of Ronald McDonald on pain of death, you know exactly where to go for your needs without resorting to decapitation.


mjgolli said...

Oh, how I wish businesses in the US were this accurate and succinct!

It doesn't look as if any of that stuff would go in anyones home...except maybe a college dorm or frat house! LOL!

Shari said...

I did wonder if perhaps the market is other businesses who sell similar products, but then I don't think the Japanese consumer is familiar enough with some of those "icons" of American advertising to make them useful.

One thing that is odd though is that the entire sign is in English with no Japanese at all. Of course, there is English everywhere in Tokyo and many people can probably understand it well enough to read the sign, but it is a bit unusual.

Thanks for commenting! :-)

ThePenguin said...

There's a niche market for this kind of stuff. Mrs. Penguin once had quite a nice gig going shipping selected stuff from German flea markets off to Japan, and also acting as a kind of personal junk shopper for wholesale buyers.

Shari said...

That sounds like a really cool job, actually. Mrs. Penguin must have enjoyed that!

I guess it's possible that the person running that shop does mail order and the storefront is just a place to keep the items he sells (and maybe pick up a little bit of foot traffic and watch repair work).

As always, thanks for commenting!

ThePenguin said...

They also appear to be into online auctions.

Some photos of the shop's interior here and here

I think the demand for this kind of stuff comes from people who want to own something "different", that's otherwise not available in Japan with its remarkably uniform markets. (That's probably also why all the limited edition / "rare" consumer products are so popular).