Archives for the month of: December, 2010

The streets, office towers, shopping malls and department stores of central Tokyo present a familiar picture during November and December: Christmas trees, Christmas lights and the sounds of Christmas Carols create a beautiful Christmas vibe. In the city’s restaurants and bars the end of year bonenkai parties are equally merry. At home, Christmas trees decorate many living rooms and Santa brings gifts for young children.

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In a city that is emblematic of technological progress, defined by neon, bullet trains and the planet’s most sophisticated electronic gadgets, Tokyo’s ITO-YA is a sublime analog experience, providing eleven floors of pens, paper, greeting cards, art supplies, office supplies and other stationery items. Surrounded by prestigious fashion retailers on Ginza’s Chuo dori, ITO-YA may appear a bit nerdy in comparison to its glamorous neighbors, but for anyone with a yen for binders, mechanical pencils, notebooks and the like, this is one sexy store.

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Shopping in Tokyo is an almost surreal experience, where shopping centers and stores in the major commercial hubs merge above and below street level in maze-like configurations. This landscape is also packed with wonderful department stores, and Isetan is one of the biggest and best. The company’s flagship store is a fashion-lover’s paradise that comprises two vast buildings – one for her, one for him – that help define the character of the bustling east side of Shinjuku station. All the enticing department store trimmings are there: the spotless showrooms, the luxurious washrooms and the decadent basement food hall; the immaculately groomed information booth and elevator girls, the courtesy buses and courteous parking attendants; the flawless service – something you would expect of staff who ritually bow to the showroom, their workplace, when entering or exiting at the start or end of their workday shift; and above all, the hip brands and beautiful fashions and accessories that make Isetan an essential stop on any visit to Shinjuku.

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Shopping is a major pastime in Japan and it’s not unusual for people in Tokyo to describe shopping as their hobby. It’s no secret that Tokyo is a shopping wonderland and the retail landscape contains every imaginable shopping destination from elegant cathedral like department stores to bargain 100 yen shops and weekend flea markets; extravagant luxury brand flagship stores with trappings and service that resemble those of upmarket hotels to idiosyncratic specialty stores and uber-cool boutiques.

Trading hours are civilised: most stores usually open at 10 or 11 am and close around 8, 9 or 10 in the evening, seven days a week. For those who still need more time to get their shopping fix, those who need some party wear, make-up, jewelry or vitamins at midnight, those who get a craving for a designer watch, camera or cheap suit at 3 in the morning, those at a loose end who feel like window shopping at dawn, or those who want to pick up some breakfast supplies before boarding the first train, Don Quijote, ドン キホーテ, – or Donki as it’s affectionately known – is the place to head.

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Dentsu is a name synonymous with advertising. Japan’s oldest advertising agency and one of the biggest players on the planet pioneered newspaper and television advertising in Japan and today it oversees around 30 per cent of the market here and also has operations in nearly thirty countries. Creatively, the company is embracing current technologies to create brilliant campaigns like iButterfly, which provides an entirely new concept for marketing businesses and products. It’s not surprising that Dentsu will partner with Apple to develop iAds for Japanese consumers.

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