JAPAN: New Year sales are just massive!
Morning. Happy New Year and all that.
Bit confused today, not least because by the time you hit the big bongs and the Auld Lang Syne, we were already having breakfast.
The slight sake hangover didn't help, and neither did the memory of a four-hour plus singing contest on the TV rather than fireworks over the Thames and Hootenanny.
The bells 'clonging' in 2010 in temples, and the sight of a group of naked chaps on the TV, chanting in the temple grounds as they hurled buckets of freezing water over themselves while the snow pelted down, just added to the disorientation.
Then there was the realisation that I ate almost everything aquatic, or so it seemed, during NYE dinner last night, from clams to the insides of eels.
But what really threw me was the arrival of the morning papers.
In Britain we're used to either no papers at this time of year, or ultrathin missives put together by a skeleton staff of the unlucky, and padded out with features written weeks ago. The Japanese January 1 papers are rather different in that a) they exist and b) they clearly exist to deliver masses of advertising.
This morning's paper came with about a kilo of brightly-coloured flyers, ranging from half-sheets to huge poster-sized broadsheet spreads, and advertising sales on just about everything.
I mean everything, from clothes and golf equipment – lots of golf equipment – to car accessories – time to stock up on those winter tyres –, traditional Japanese dolls and delivery sushi services.
There are even flyers for new homes with all the latest mod-cons – new year, new house...
And, just in case you were wondering where I was going with all this, stacks of ads for consumer electronics, from toasters and shavers and computers and mobile phones to TVs, hi-fi and all the stuff we get excited about here.
It seems the usual Japanese new year gift, given in the same way that we exchange Christmas pressies, isn't a pair of fluffy slippers or an unsuitable jumper, but the crisp green – well, more blue and brown – folding stuff.
That means a lot of people with money to spend at this time of year. Hence all the advertising, at which I just thought I'd let you take a look: just bear in mind that a pound buys you about 140 yen, and you'll see that most prices aren't a million miles away from what we pay in the UK.
(If you right-click or ctrl-click on a picture, then choose 'view image', it should open larger in a new window so you can check the deals more closely)
Oh, and if you'd like to know what the houses are like into which all this equipment is being installed, here's a look at some flyers for mid-to-higher-end homes.
Yes, from about 7.5m yen, or around £50K, you could buy you a nice four-bedder – but bear in mind that you're going to have to find some land on which to build it.
And in a country where all the money is in the site, not the building itself, and the value of houses actually falls, with only the land price (hopefully) rising, that's where things start getting expensive...