Tasting Japanese Regions in the Middle of Tokyo
TOKYO – There are 47 prefectures in Japan. If you travel from Hokkaido to Okinawa, you will cross 3,400 kilometers*1. Someone did an interesting calculation: How much would it cost to travel from Sapporo to Naha by taxi? Sapporo and Naha are the capitals in Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures. It turned out be a little more than 1.11 million JPY, equivalent to about 9,887 USD*2 (1 USD is 113 JPY as of Dec. 8.).
What I am trying to say here is Japan looks small on a map, but actually its length from north to south is a great distance. This means that even if you know that you will find various fascinating places to learn about each prefecture’s food and culture, it would be difficult to visit them all. The good news is if you visit Tokyo for only a few days, you can go around its “antenna shops.” It is a shop that a local, in many cases prefectural, government opens in Tokyo to promote and sell the area’s specialty products.
A while ago, when I took a taxi in Ginza, the cheerful and talkative driver told me that his hobby was hopping around antenna shops with his wife. He also said that he and his wife soon have visited every antenna shop in Tokyo, but he was looking for new ones coming soon. How many antenna shops are there in Tokyo? The number of antenna shop is on the rise, reaching a record high of 55 in 2015*3. If you define the term in a broader sense, it would be as many as 108*4. Even by the lower estimate, the total annual growth rate of the number of antenna shops is more than 15%.
The popularity of the antenna shop is ballooning, along with the rise of their annual sales. A survey shows each of four antenna shops, “Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza”, “Tochimaru Shop (Tochigi),” “Omotesando Niigatakan N’espace” and “Ginza Washita Shop (Okinawa),” had more than 1 million visitors in 2015.
The Okinawa, Hokkaido and Hiroshima shops had annual sales that topped 700 million JPY (6 million USD). Seventeen shops made sales to the value of more than 300 million JPY each last year.