Have any of you readers out there ever been in this situation? You are on your way home from work, when you realize that you forgot to pick up the cake for your son/daughter’s birthday, or those “forgive me” flowers for the wife the day after a big fight. Only, by the time you realize what you forgot, you’ve already exited the freeway and landed yourself about a block away from home with not a department store or mall in sight.
Well, Japanese commuters no longer have to worry about last minute shopping issues, because the newest trend in architectural development and space design is the “ekinaka” shopping center (shopping mall/shops/department stores inside the train stations). Nearly every popular station in the Tokyo area has had a facelift compared to years past, and now shopping plazas of up to ten stories high can be found inside stations, and even right in front of you as you exit your train. This not only increases convenience for shoppers in a hurry, but also gives individuals waiting for friends and family to arrive inside the station something to do other than sitting in a chair reading a magazine for 30 minutes.
The best part of the concept is that the shops you will find inside these “station department stores” include the same brand names apparel shops, popular eateries, etc. that you would find outside, so there is no sacrificing in quality here. In addition, some of the hottest new concepts in food and the like can be found starting up inside the stations as well, in slightly smaller booths/stands set up merely to introduce people to a new product or service live and on the spot. Finally, when you consider the fact that in a city like Tokyo the weather can take you by surprise 9 out of 12 months during the year, it is great to know that if need be you won’t necessarily have to get soaked in the rain or scorched by the blazing summer sun to get your daily shopping done.
Time to hit the train station across the street to go pick up some of those hot Japanese sweet potatoes covered in melted butter that I love so much. L, signing off…