More short term goals unachieved

There is nothing much going on this Christmas weekend. I’m looking forward spending Christmas day away from work, though I do need to go in on Boxing Day and the day after. From then until the New Year is a holiday though, as is the tradition with most Japanese companies. Usually some time during the first week of January companies start opening the doors again.

So far my half-hearted attempts to purchase a Nintendo Wii have been woefully unsuccessful. I haven’t really been trying, just popping into a shop here and there when the mood took me, but Japan is suffering from a Wii-drought. As soon as new shipments come in massive queues form as if by magic and anybody with a spare hour orso may try his luck. You have to be extremely lucky in the first place to be around when a shop unwraps its new shipment, so the people that have been able to get one have been jobless or homeless. True, I could have woken up early this weekend and try some local stores but the prospect of sleeping in till noon was just too delicious to ignore. God only knows when Wiis will be plentiful again, but my guess is I won’t be until well into January, if not later. The same thing happened with the DS and DS Lite launches; anybody not crazy enough to queue had to wait a good two or three months.
I wouldn’t mind having a Wii right now, but hey, I think I‘ll survive the New Year break without one.

On the subject of abject failures; Ikea, colon minus open bracket. Because I needed some new furniture I made my way to the Kohoku branch of this establishment. The free shuttle bus from the station to the store was packed and took a lot longer than I had imagined. After all the jostling and shoving a sit down and some meatballs were in order so worming our way through the crowds of screaming kids to the large but noisy cafeteria was the first point on the agenda. After we regained our energy we slouched through the store and found some of the stuff we needed, so we approach a shop clerk at the information desk.
“Yeah, so we’re interested in items A, B and C there.”
“Let me check,” the woman says as she punches some stuff into her PC. “Ah, we have A and C but not B. You could have those two delivered soon, but B may have to wait until the New Year.”
“Um, okay, I don’t think that’s a problem. So, can we pay for B now or…”
“No, we don’t have it in stock now. Here,” she writes us a card with information, “check this website and this stock number to see when B comes back in stock again.”
“Oh, okay, thanks. So then we can order it from there?”
“Um, no, if we have it in stock you can come back here to buy it.”
“So if item B gets back in stock we can see that on-line but we have to come back all the way here to fill in our information to have it delivered at our home.”
“I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
“So, do you want A and C…”
“Thank you, bye-bye.”

In a country where the customer is king and emperor this attitude somewhat shook me. They were making it far too difficult to simply have some stuff delivered. In the end we found what we wanted in a cheap mail-order catalogue; almost the exact same item for about half the price and without having to go all the way to Shin-Yokohama to pay for it. Maybe I’m overreacting in my disgust at this failure but this is certainly not the attitude that will make Ikea successful in Japan; meatballs will only take you so far.

Have a merry Christmas everybody, I’m off to put the icing on the Christmas cake.


  1. Nissen ( are fairly ok and cheap. As long as you don't expect chippendale quality from your furniture it's probably ok. You can order via the net or their catalogue, which is free and can be found in supermarkets sometimes.

    No idea about what area of Japan they cover, but you should be fine in Kansai.

  2. Hah, Nissen is indeed the Ikea-alternative we're using now. We've ordered a fair amount from them over the years and, as you say, it's not high quality but certainly "good enough" quality. And cheap!
    Sod Ikea! :)

  3. Ikea be damned, but I'm not sure I agree about all this "the customer is king in Japan"-business. Considering how ridiculously inflexible menus and services are, coupled with the often intense ignorance of staff that only know exactly what goes on directly infront of their noses, I find myself having had your Ikea-frustration many times over by now...

  4. I know this is petty, but please stop using the word 'orso'. It's not a word. It's two words - 'or so'. And you're driving me crazy :)

  5. That's the IKEA policy, it is the same in Scandinavia. Extremely frustrating...