Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Denenchofu, the customer-free zone

Denenchofu Tokyo (Ota-ku) is an interesting place. It is quite expensive in nearly every part, but especially so on the hill above the station. Lots of TV stars and sports figures live in the area.

There is a small shopping area---perhaps it could be called a "downtown." The interesting thing about it is that you almost never see a customer in any of the shops. In fact, even if one wants to shop in one, it might be a bit difficult as the hours can be somewhat irregular. Then there are the prices. One woman remarked that the shops there all had old products at double the price. This is only a slight exaggeration.

Some people think that these shops might be operated for tax purposes. Take a loss on your business and write down your overall tax bill. Whatever it is, given the price of real estate in the area, it is hard to believe that most of those shops are not losing tons of money.

There are a few places with customers---the drug store with discounted prices which are still higher than the surrounding areas; Denenchofu McDonalds, where hygiene is a dirty word; over-priced Precce, the only grocery store nearby; the aerobics school for kids; and the English school (not "downtown" but near the station.)

The latter two seem to have a good arrangement here. The kid's aerobics school is said to have a relationship with a TV station. That TV station often uses children in some of its programs. Guess what one of the sources for the children is? It is so popular that the parents are said to have to undergo interviews to put their children in the aerobics class.

The English school is said to have made a sweet deal with the powers in Denenchofu. No other English school will be given permission to open in the area. Sort of a competition-free zone.

Okusawa, which is the next station up the line---or a 10 minute walk away---has many small shops and is bustling compared to Denenchofu. The folks there even appear to want business. It seems that they are not very interested losing money to lower taxes, or to make special deals with English schools.

*8 May 2008: Somewhat properly proofread and corrected.*

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