Tokyo T-shirts

For some people, shopping is something to suffer rather than celebrate, with smash and grab like raids or resorting to online retailers the only means of survival. Many Japanese on the other hand seem to see shopping as a source of happiness, or even a hobby, which practically turns popular shops into places of worship – sort of.

A mindset that makes the movie mantra of ‘If you build it, they will come’ ring very true indeed, especially in regards to recently opened outlets; however a fondness for fads also dictates that a fair number of them will fail in the far from distant future.

Such a situation makes the newly opened UNIQLO UT in Tokyo’s Harajuku district an intriguing one indeed, as the combination of a nationally well-known brand and an especially novel new shop means its immediate success is guaranteed.

Japan uniqlo UT store

But as it only sells T-shirts, will the fact that they are served tucked up in tubes rather than fastidiously folded on shelves be enough to hold the attention of the capital’s consumers in the long term?

Japan uniqlo UT store

Although considering Japan’s long lasting love affair with vending machines, the answer is probably a positive one.

Japan uniqlo UT store

Perhaps.

Japan uniqlo UT store

(click images for higher-res Harajuku homage)

Tokyo tipple?

It’s certainly possible that the owner of the Tokyo apartment building below has a soft spot for Scotland, the country’s Highlands and heritage perhaps having a lasting effect on his or her life.

Japanese apartment

But as the building is utterly bereft of beauty, its naming could well have more to do with a tryst with nation’s famous tipple than its topography.

Japanese apartment

(click images for higher-res Heights)

Tokyo training

For raring to go recruits fresh from university, the Japanese company dormitory is a cheap and convenient option – hugely subsidized rent and even the provision of meals in some places making the transition to working life a lot easier. Also, spending their every waking hour at the company or with colleagues effortlessly eases them onto the corporate conveyor belt, which will unwaveringly whisk them along whether they like it or not.

Employees married to both the company and a colleague on the other hand may well find themselves in a similarly set up apartment, which allows them the same subsidized rent but considerably more privacy. Escaping from workmates however is one thing, but withdrawing from work is something different altogether – even if it’s just for a few hours at night.

Or at least that’s the case for some KEIO Corporation railway staff living in western Tokyo, as despite having a balcony and a bit of greenery to have a gander at,

Tokyo apartments

there’s little in the way of a respite as far as locomotives are concerned.

Tokyo apartments

(click images for larger lousy living location)

Tokyo tedium

There’s no doubt that a listless day spent looking for a new lavatory brush is hardly living life to the full.

Japanese toilet brush

But that said, is there really any need for moulded plastic manufacturers to malevolently make it known just how mind numbing such aspects of day-to-day living can be?

Japanese engrish

Japanese giant

The dogged drive for world domination hardly endears the Hello Kitty cult to the dwindling number of non-believers.

Yet Japanese giant Sanrio certainly demands at least begrudging respect, as just when it seems that the marketing marvel can’t possibly produce a product that doesn’t already have the placid pussy plastered all over it – it does, this time with a banana case of all things.

Japanese hello kitty banana case

Fruit and fairly featureless feline fans rejoice…

Fowl play?

Japan’s ultra-competitive world of grilled chicken production took another twist over the weekend, when the town of Hidakagawa, in Wakayama Prefecture, reclaimed the honour of holding the world record for the longest piece of grilled chicken (or yakitori) – a title that was controversially won by the residents of Kawamata back in August last year, a mere 12 days after the good people of Hidakagawa had first been crowned chicken champions with an effort of 11 metres and 7 cm.

So this year, in a bid to make sure they don’t fall foul of the same misfortune again, the town in western Japan callously killed a whole glut of chickens to produce a gargantuan grill measuring a gut-busting 16.46 metres.

Jumbo Japanese yakitori

However cruel chicken-based taunts by the champs in reference to the size of Kawamata men’s ‘cocks’ has not surprisingly ruffled more than a few feathers, leading many to believe that the title may once again change hands in the not too distant future.