在日本 它是各地方土產到東京社設的鄉土產品等之前哨站 可以推廣土產 讓遊子懷鄉
From samurai armor to meat, prefectural products find home in Tokyo
Prefectural governments have concluded that they need the capital to make capital.
More than 30 prefectural governments have opened "antenna shops" in fashionable places in Tokyo, including Ginza, Yurakucho, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, to promote local products and sightseeing places in their prefectures.
The strategy appears to be paying off. Sales have increased and young people are growing more aware of attractions outside of Tokyo.
In addition, the shops are attracting people originally from those prefectures but who cannot return during the holiday seasons.
The Miyagi Furusato (hometown) Plaza, an antenna shop in Ikebukuro of the Miyagi prefectural government, is widely known among fans of medieval armor worn by samurai warriors.
At the shop, customers can wear armor similar to the one worn by local medieval warlord Date Masamune, free of charge.
The antenna shop is located near the Sunshine 60 skyscraper and is also close to "Otome (girls) Road," where anime fans gather.
The Miyagi prefectural government chose the location partly because it assumed young people who like to wear costumes of anime characters would also like to don armor of samurai warriors.
On a Sunday in early August, several groups of visitors wore the 18-kilogram armor shown on the second floor of the shop.
One of them, Kazue Kurihara, a 17-year-old second-year student at senior high school, said: "The armor is heavy and my neck is getting tired. Were samurai warriors really able to fight in battles while wearing such heavy armor?"
She visited the shop along with family members.
Every month, about 30 people, most of them women, wear the armor. Photos of the people clad in armor are pasted on the walls of the shop.
The second floor also offers sightseeing information that visitors can read while waiting for their turn to pretend to be a samurai warrior.
"It may be just a kind of kosupure (dressing up in anime character costumes). But if the armor leads to increased interest in Miyagi Prefecture, we are happy," said Kiyoshi Yokota, manager of the antenna shop.
The antenna shop of Miyazaki Prefecture has turned to something more contemporary to promote its products: popular comedian-turned-politician Hideo Higashikokubaru.
The shop, named Shinjuku Miyazaki-kan Konne, is located on the Southern Terrace promenade near the South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station.
Local products promoted on TV by Higashikokubaru, who became governor in January this year, have steadily grown more popular.
The products include jidori, or local chicken meat.
"Sales of the shop have doubled compared with those in (the corresponding periods of) conventional years," said Daisuke Hidaka, an official of the prefectural government's Products Promotion Center, which operates the antenna shop.
Annual sales will easily exceed the fiscal 2006 total of about 400 million yen, he added.
Yusuke Kono, 27, who grew up in Miyazaki Prefecture but is now an elementary school teacher in Yokohama, said at the venue last month, "I feel a bit nostalgic when I see 'made-in-Miyazaki' products."
He had no plans to return to the prefecture during the summer holidays.
The opening of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop nearby in December last year has helped to bring customers to the Miyazaki antenna shop.
Similar benefits are also being enjoyed by a Hiroshima Prefecture antenna shop located near Shinjuku Miyazaki-kan Konne.
Sales at Hiroshima Yume (dream) Terrace have increased by 50 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year.
"The number of young customers has increased," said Kensuke Kamemoto, an official of the Tokyo office of the Hiroshima prefectural government.
One reason why prefectural governments are eager to set up shop in Tokyo is because they can quickly gauge the popularity of their products.
In Niigata Prefecture's shop named Omotesanto Niigata-kan Nespace, shop clerks check the popularity of 850 products, including sake and food, every three months.
Unpopular products are removed from the counters, and prefectural officials give advice to their manufacturers on how to make their items more attractive.
Popular products are transferred to permanent counters.
"Sales (of products) are the biggest means for communication with customers," said Chizuru Hatada, a vice councilor of the Japan Center for Regional Development.
The center was set up by local governments and private companies to promote local revitalization.
"Antenna shops can obtain information (from customers) through the sales and convey it to local manufacturers. By doing so, they can help the manufacturers raise the popularity of their products," Hatada said.
She said the prefectures were helped in part by the collapse of the asset-inflated "bubble" economy and the closure of some bank branches in central Tokyo.
"The prefectural governments were able to obtain good places for their antenna shops," Hatada said.(IHT/Asahi: September 22,2007)