Posts Tagged ‘Seiyu’

Nishiogi Shopping (2)

March 15, 2011

As of 12:45 PM, the Coop in Nishiogikita had fresh fruits and vegies.  Still no milk, bread or rice and the shelves are nearly empty of many other things.  As I left, a large delivery truck was unloading refrigerated goods, so perhaps the shelves will be replenished soon.

Many shops are closed, and those that are open, like convenience stores and the Coop, have turned off many of their lights.  The interior is dim yet perfectly adequate, which makes me realize how much electricity we use unnecessarily.  Do convenience stores and supermarkets really need to be so brightly lit even when conditions are normal?

A sign in front of the train station confirms that the areas in our neighborhood which will experience blackout are Shoan 3, Zenpukuji 1 to 4, and Nishiogikita 3 to 5.  The blackout will occur from 3:20 to 7 PM.  I saw a train go by on the Chuo Line heading toward Mitaka about 10:30 this morning, and it was nearly empty.  Buses are not so full either, and there seem to be plenty of taxis around.

I have not yet found milk, but bread of various kinds can be found in smaller bakeries, all of which have lines in front of them.  I waited 10 minutes in front of Lisdor Mitsu, just south of Nishiogi Station.  They have bagels and several fresh baked loaves of their popular brewer’s yeast bread.  There was a line at Dila’s Asanoya Bakery (in the station building), made to wait outside.  A young man at the door would let people in periodically.  This seemed a good arrangement to let people buy their bread  in comfort.  The shelves, seen through the windows, were piled high with their products.

Seiyu at Nishiogi Station has reopened.  I did not go in, so I don’t know what they have available.  The post office in Nishiogi 2-chome has a sign out front announcing that they will close early today, at 2:30 PM.  Various small eateries near the station were open and serving lunch.



Nishiogi Shopping

March 13, 2011

I just got back from another tour of the ‘hood.  Nishiogikubo’s Seiyu—proud member of the “WAL*MART Family”—is closed.  A sign on the shuttered entrance says they are closed till further notice due to the earthquake and refers shoppers to other Seiyu stores in Kichijoji and Ogikubo.  What do you suppose happened?  Possibly I was the last person to buy anything there before they closed.  At that time, while things had fallen off shelves, I saw no signs of damage to the building itself, which, after all, the recorded announcement kept assuring us was “safe.”  I would venture a guess that they were all sold out of everything, were it not for their referral of shoppers to nearby Seiyu stores.

If you hurry, maybe you can get that last set of tissue paper.

Moving on to Seijo Drugs to pick up some vitamins, I found the place crowded with shoppers and the line too long to stick around and wait in.  Out back the shelves normally full of tissue and toilet paper were nearly empty.  There’s a run on these items, and I passed people loaded down with them on the street.

Yesterday I had done a big shop at the Coop, but there had been no bread, bananas, strawberries or broccoli.  Today too no bread, and the fruit section was empty except for a few lonely kiwis and avocados.  Fresh vegies too were wiped out except a couple of bunches of celery, asparagus, and cucumbers.  Milk all gone, eggs all gone, rice all gone.  Shoppers were wandering around exclaiming, “But there’s nothing here!”  There is still some processed packaged food left, though, and for some reason lots of fresh flowers.  Signs above the empty compartments apologized for being sold out of just about everything due to the earthquake.

I then checked out Fuji Garden, right next door to the Coop, across the street from Daiso.  They’ve got lots of everything there, especially in the fresh foods department.  So if you want something besides kiwi and celery, pop next door for more variety.  What Fuji Garden is out of, though, is milk, bread, tofu, and fresh noodles. [The Coop (Seikyo) is located at Nishiogikita 1-2, next to the railroad tracks.]

Is this just a temporary glitch in the system?  Or are we really in for long-term shortages?  That remains to be seen.  I’ve got four and a half rolls of toilet paper at home and five box of tissues.  Let’s see what happens when I run out…

What If?

October 24, 2010

Almost every neighborhood in Tokyo has a Seiyu—part department store, part supermarket—located right near the train station.  When I first moved to Nishiogikubo in the early 1980s, there were actually two Seiyu’s:  one next to the station, and one diagonally across the street.  The former had a more up-to-date atmosphere in the groceries section, while the latter, two stories high, had a greater selection of housewares and furniture.  The one next to the station is still there but the one across the street closed down long ago and is now the site of a pachinko parlor.  The items you could buy in Seiyu in those days were not discounted but they were reasonably priced, and among all the cheaper sorts of women’s clothing, I often found something unique and to my taste: a winter jacket in black and white tweed—the only one on the rack—or 100% wool shawls in interesting patterns and colors to cover my shoulders and add some warmth to a Tokyo winter day.

Since the bursting of the bubble in the early ’90s, the merchandise available in Tokyo stores has slowly and subtly undergone change.  The riot of color that used to greet my eyes when I visited the appliance or household goods section of the supermarket has faded to white and gray or a limited choice of anemic pastels.  Jackets, like all the other clothing, come in two or three styles and colors, all subdued and ill-fitting and made in China.  Everything looks the same as everything else.

Seiyu, in the meantime, has been bought out by Wal-Mart, which may also account for the deterioration in quality and variety of the goods on offer.  As the Seiyu shopping bag proudly declares in English, they are now “part of the WAL*MART family.”  Prices are boldly advertised as being boldly slashed, and the racks and shelves have sprouted large gaudy red and yellow tags boasting the items’ low cost.  They hurt the eyes.  And no doubt hurt the earnings of smaller shops who cannot afford to discount their goods as drastically.  One by one they close down and leave the neighborhood:  the hardware store where you could buy a small pot for heating up milk, with flowers painted on the side; the boutique that sold women’s clothes in all sizes, all 100% pure silk; the corner fruit and vegetable store with all its wares out on the sidewalk so you could easily pick up a bunch of bananas as you walked by.

An article in the Daily Yomiuri, “Wal-Mart to open smaller stores in U.S.” (Fri., Oct. 15, ’10) tells us that Wal-Mart “sees a ‘true need’ for stores smaller than its supercenters….’After years of development we are now prepared to accelerate growth’ of smaller stores, [U.S. stores chief] Simon said.”

Let’s get this straight.  First you build these huge stores outside of town that offer merchandise at such low cost that you drive the in-town shops out of business and turn main street shopping centers into ghost towns; and then you decide that after all there is a “true need” for small shops in “urban markets”?  Well, if Simon says so, then I guess everyone else will just have to go along with it, but we here at the Tree are refusing to play the game.  Instead, we’d like to pose a “What If?” for you to ponder.

What if one day we go out to do our shopping and find that the only stores around are all “part of the Wal*Mart family,” and are all selling exactly the same thing as each other?  And what if, because they now own and operate every possible outlet for goods and food, Wal-Mart has a brainstorm and realizes that if they are the only game in town, and therefore there’s no competition left to put out of business by underselling them, then there is no longer any need to keep their prices so low?  Think about it.