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This Charming Sale

JAPAN | Friday, 24 September 2010 | Views [764]

The main street of Motomachi has transformed. It has changed! One week it is a rather posh shopping street, where people push their little dogs in prams, while browsing the shops and watching the Porsche's drive by, finishing a nice stroll at Starbucks from a green coffee.

This week it is nothing short of a rugby scrum. A rugby scrum full of Japanese ladies armed with handbags (Louis Vuitton - of course!) and a will & determination to get a bargain. The first Saturday and Sunday of the sale are the worst. Who would have thought that a nearly 6ft Gaijin weighing 73kgs could be easily pushed aside by a 100 year old nanna! Well she was probably older, but Japanese women always look younger than they really are. It is a bit weird being elbowed around by Japanese women. They are quite forceful when they see the sale rack. That being said they are usually so short they are elbowing me in the arse anyway.

The street literally becomes a sea of people! Being quite tall it is easy to look down the street and see nothing but shoulder to shoulder shopping crowds. Not for the faint hearted. Out walking the dog on the weekend, it became very apparent this street is no place for either small pooches or husbands. Pooches will get trampled in the throng of people. Husbands will moan about shopping. Nothing different there really....

Shopping ladies take numbered tickets and wait patiently outside shops before their number is called and they are ushered in to buy stuff. They must buy sooooooo much stuff. The week leading up to the sale, boxes and boxes of stock are delivered every day.

One of the attractions in Japanese sales are the Happy bags. The shops fill the bags with stock and sell it at a discount price. They may have a size (eg Small, Med, Large) on the outside but nothing else. A lucky dip really. No problem for me because nothing fits me anyway...but I do wonder whether people are happy when they get home with a beige and brown cardigan that looks like moths have vomited on it. That being said, my ever stylish teenage neighbor got some crackingly cool hats in one of these bags, so a style gamble it is.

Is the sale a bargain...hmmm? I don't know. I think shopping in Japan is expensive, and Motomachi street especially. My Canadian friend suggested it brings goods down to normal prices anywhere else. That being said I did see some bargains. A hat the was 15% of original price and a scarf less than 10%. I think the trick is to be really nice to the sales assistants, go in later in the day when they are not so busy and praise them like crazy about everything. "Your shop is great, I love your product, I love your hair etc etc". Then ask where the special "special" price stuff is. Then ask if they will give you a Gaijin discount. If in doubt, buy stuff when you are in England. Definitely the cheapest & best place to shop in my opinion. And predictably, the Louis Vuitton shop does NOT have a sale!

The Charming Sale at Motomachi happens twice a year, usually last week of February and 'Silver Week' in September. Get there by catching the train to either Motomachi-Chukagai station, or on the JR line to Ishikawa-cho station. This sale ends on Sunday, so get your rugby boots on, elbows and see if you can fight your way to a bargain.

Tags: japan, louis vuitton, motomachi, sale, shopping, starbucks, yokohama

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