Ortaks Japanese Adventure, Part 1
It started with an Email never thought it would come to this, no this isn`t a hot chocolate song (if you're under forty, ask your mum), but after a few phone calls and several visits by agents from British Life Tokyo, and Hankyu`s British fair team came to Orkney on a cold day in February and then even colder days in June, I find myself (Michael Gardens) on a 2 day flight plan, time goes forward going so I lost a whole Monday (result!), landing in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet Tokyo and then onto Fukuoka.
Week one; Fukuoka - the Hankyu Hakata store. This retail fair is held on one floor of the department store that we were informed that this newer show of only 4 years is a smaller more intimate show, well, on day one I saw more people than live on our island....... Armed with my map, blank pieces silver and some boxes of the delightful Orkney Fudge, I demonstrated, explained jewellery for hours upon hours, and did the tourist board out of a job (in a good way) it was amazing how many folk thought Scotland ended at Edinburgh...... and could not believe I had travelled 6000 miles to be at the show. When the week, which flew past, was done we packed up and headed off on the absolutely amazing Bullet Train, 300km per hour through some amazing landscapes and interesting towns and cities. Now a confession, people at work who know me or have travelled with me, hassle me about being a cat .....yes .. I slept through the whole trip!!!! GUTTED.
Weeks two and three; Osaka - Hankyu Umeda store. Nothing prepared me for this BIG but beautiful building, 13 floors above ground, 2 below links to subway, streets and hotels. A city block of retail under one roof. I could leave the New Hankyu Hotel at 8am walk through the subway go to work, leave work, eat and shop go home and never be outside!!! The show, well people queue in Osaka so when the doors open there is a mad rush for.... guess ...... yes you got it English cream tea`s - The Bridge End café. By one minute past, opening time would have a line of people equivalent to a three-hour wait!! They sold several thousand scones per day (poor Grace) you did well!!
The number of people per hour we saw was unreal, the one Saturday over 150 000 people entered the store!! Frankies Fish and Chip shop from Shetland did over 1000 fish suppers per day!
Part 2 next week
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- Alison Firth