Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plenty of benches in the Ginza

Parking-lot war
In Tokyo, it is seen to be an advantage to live close to the station. It's convenient, clean, and respectable, and because valued, a good investment.

But what if you live equidistant from two stations? The travel time to your destination will differ only by a couple minutes, so in the morning how do you choose which station to cycle to?

Both stations are aware of their commercial confrontation, of course. The station that attracts more people is in a position to attract more businesses, and therefore the land in the area will be more valuable. What has evolved in my area is a subtle struggle between the bicycle parking lots at the two stations.

The lot at one station is clean and efficient and perfectly acceptable but the parking lot at the other station has devised an edge. Not only is it cheaper (80 yen vs. 100 yen a day), but its manager greets everyone in the morning, immediately gives them change, takes their bike from them and puts it in a rack, and makes a bit of show dusting the seat off. In such small ways is the allegiance of customers forged in Tokyo. 

Awkward, but authentic
The Wall Street Journal tells of a little tapas place in Kyoto, a well-known Tokyo suburb, which  specializes in deep-fried croquetas de jamon--ham croquettes--washed down with canyas--small draft beers. The owner has made a careful study of such places, which abound in Spanish cities, and has gone to the trouble of importing from Spain the napkins used in these places, which are made of thin wax paper, although he knows his customers in Kyoto feel these napkins are unsuited to wiping oil from the lips but nevertheless appreciate that they are authentic.  

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