Shopping Local in Japan
Most Canadians go shopping by car. Everybody has a long shopping list and fills up their big shopping carts with groceries and products to last a week or more. Stores like Canadian Super Store, Canadian Tire and Staples, are big enough to walk around. Shopping is often a big task, a one-day job. In Japan, store sizes, how shopping areas and formed, and going shopping are quite different.
First, the size of each shop in Japan is much smaller than in Canada. The size of a
typical local Japanese superstore is about a quarter of the size of a Canadian Superstore or half the size of Safeway. The average size of a local Japanese corner shop is about the size of a Canadian convenience store and the smallest is about the size of a small Canadian bedroom. In some family-owned stores, they conduct business on the first floor and live upstairs.
Second, those middle and small-sized stores gather and form a shopping district; it is
called “Shouten-gai.” Big Shouten-gais are amazing; they have almost everything from
superstores, grocery-only stores, meat stores, fish stores, flower shops, bicycle shops, pubs, restaurants, convenience stores, electronics stores, community centers, dental offices and doctors’ offices. In the daytime, some stores sell fresh foods at a reasonable price, while other stores sell hot snacks in front of their stores. At nighttime, small local pubs are frequented for their original food and friendly atmospheres. They are all scattered in one area, which looks like an old local juke box.
Last, people usually go shopping on foot or by bicycle. As Shouten-gais have
pedestrian-only roads, people come to enjoy shopping on foot or on bikes that have been specially designed for Japanese people who are considered pedestrians. Usually, Shouten-gais are located within walking distance from most train stations. Most people enjoy shopping for a short time almost every day or every other day. Housewives go shopping for freshly picked groceries and look sale items during day. Workers buy their dinner or nibbles for beer on the way home. They don’t need a car, especially in the city.
In conclusion, the Canadian way to go shopping is to buy big amounts at one place in one shot by car, whereas the Japanese way is to purchase small amounts at several places quite often on foot. I haven’t missed Japan since I came to Canada; however, I have missed, on occasion,“Shouten-gai” shopping.