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Friday, November 26, 2004

Now hear this!

OK, I'm gonna keep this one fairly short as I'm exhausted...

We went shopping today for over 4 hours (!!!). Now, if you know me, you might realize I'm not a very hardy shopper, I start fading around the 2 hour mark. In these go-go consumer times of ours, I realize this to be a grave personal failing. Some people get museum fatigue, I get mall fatigue.

But today, we got up at the crack of dawn (well, 8 a.m., close enough) to go to the grand opening of "Apita", part of a chain of Japanese mega-malls. It's located out on Rte. 41 between here (Takayama) and the next town over, Furukawa.

Mad crowded, crazy enthusiasm, bargains in the offing. Generally nice place, good one stop shopping designed to drain the life out of the downtowns of both nearby cities. We'll probably be going back.

Now, if you've been to Takashimaya on 5th Ave. in NYC, you may have concluded that shopping in Japan is all about elegance, style and a kind of restrained servitude. Somewhere on the scale of commerce between aromatherapy massage and a private tea tasting. If so, you would be wrong. For one thing, Takashimiya here is basically a JC Penney's. And it's kind of hard to maintain a decorous atmosphere when you're hawking chicken wings next to foot baths next to mink stoles. Malls (and big department stores) here aren't the obsessively planned theme experiences like back in the States. They're more like a village market brought inside. There's no departments (ladies fashions, men's outerwear, sporting goods, etc.) per se, it's just a bunch of smaller stores under one roof without the benefit of walls or (clear) signage to separate them. So it can be a little confusing, and LOUD.....

Enthusiasm here, certainly in assisting you with your shopping, comes very brightly lit and at TOP VOLUME. Store announcements are fine through the PA system, but when they can be delivered at floor level through a bullhorn, well that's even better. So, the store greeters can really get the message out. Now, I just figured out how to post audio files (that I recorded on my wonder device, AKA cell phone) so to hear what I'm talking about (you might want to turn your speakers down first)

then click

But even without the assistance of a bullhorn it can get pretty loud. It's important to greet all your customers, even when they're already inside the store and shopping for, say meats or veggies. So each employee in each department will greet you (and you and you and you...) in turn. And compete with each other for your attentions.

To hear a rolling "
irashaiiiii", click here.

So, I'm gonna lie down now.