Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday and shopping in Japan

The day after Thanksgiving in the United States has been dubbed by some as Black Friday. This is in reference to the heavy shopping traffic on that day, a comparison to the extremely stressful and chaotic experience of the 1929 stock market crash called Black Tuesday. This is not a holiday, rather it is a big day for shopping with many stores opening early offering special deals for the Christmas season. Which if you go by when they started putting Christmas stuff up, began two weeks before Halloween. This practice of putting Christmas stuff up a long time before Christmas is not unique to the USA. Japan, for example, does it as well with some places selling Christmas cakes so early that they would spoil if you kept them until Christmas.

I dislike shopping with a passion, yet I commonly shop on Black Friday. The reason for this is because even with the crowds you can actually get some very good deals and occasionally free stuff. I do not spend the night camping outside of a store in the hopes of getting a deal on a big electric product like a television or a computer. I never really got why people did that. The items are not in my opinion worth waiting hours in the cold for. This happens at other times besides Black Friday and is also not limited to the United States. It happens in Japan as well with people sitting outside for days for a new gaming system or video game. The Dragon Quest RPG games, the most popular Role Playing game series in Japan (in the USA the Final Fantasy series is most popular - I like Dragon Quest, the first four of which were called Dragon Warrior in the USA, much more than Final Fantasy), have had long lines and people staking out outside the stores for every release of the series. I show up after the stores open and grab some of the lesser wanted and higher supplied deals. For example, I purchased blank media and a computer flash drive for discounted prices, the stores order many of these unlike the computers or TV's that are on sale.

This years turn out at the stores I went to was much less than last years, though I do not go to the most crowded stores like Wal-mart (I never shop Wal-mart). The stores I went to were very well organized and had many lines open. I was lucky and did not have to wait more than a few minutes in line at any of the stores I went to. My best purchase of the day was at a book store called Half-Price Books. The store sells used books for half the manufactures listed prices. This being a book store there was not a very long line. I was given upon entering the store a five dollar off coupon and a reusable bag (the type many places sell for around a dollar to use instead of plastic bags). They had a Black Friday special of 20% off their normal prices so I bought 19 books and two video games. I really like that store. They even occasionally have manga in the original Japanese at extremely low prices, most of it is Shōjo (manga for girls) though. One of my purchase was a volume of Sailormoon, in Japanese, for 80 cents.

-Some trivia on shopping in Tokyo Japan:
  • Many Japanese people do not store up a lot of food, rather they go to buy food everyday.
  • Large shopping carts filled with groceries is not a common site in Japan instead you see people carrying small baskets.
  • The average Japanese house does not have a large freezer or a pantry for storing food long term.
  • While indoor malls are pretty much dying out in the USA (a new one hasn't been built in years), they are common in Japan in part because they take up a lot less room and land is expensive in many parts of Japan.
  • Walmart is not very successful in Japan like it is pretty much everywhere else (besides Germany).
  • Akihabara, in the Kanda district near central Tokyo , is known as electronics town. There are many stores where you can buy or sell computers, electronics, anime and otaku (person with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga, and video games) goods.
  • Jimbocho, a district near Akihabara, is the place to buy books in Japan with many book stores. It is also near Ochanomizu which is where around fifty percent of Japan's student population studies in Tokyo.
  • Ikebukuro has massive, amongst the worlds largest, department stores.
  • Tsukiji has one of the biggest fish markets in the world.
  • More about places to shop in Japan can be found on many websites like this one: Tokyo Essentials.

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