Friday, December 9, 2011

J-say what??? Episode #3 All about the Yenjamins

Is this episode 3? Sounds good to me. Ah, the pricing of things...we've all heard about the $100 melons in Japan. Indeed they're out there - at most supermarkets, in fact. How many sell is anyone's guess, but there must be enough bubble money still floating around to enable people to spend this way. But who would? I mean, really - you could buy a Yamomark Umipuduru PLUS a mini for that price. Duuuuuh. What are these people thinking???

Seriously, though (if we can use that word when talking about fruits sold by the benjamin), I think these are gifts for special occasions. Plus they do look delicious...
And the gastronomical prices aren't limited to fruits. Irene and I spotted some pricey foods of the fungi variety. And believe me when I tell ya, the prices have mushroomed!

These are called matsutake (pine mushrooms). Apparently they're rare in Japan, so many are imported. I found it interesting how the prices greatly differed depending on the country of origin. I give you, the United Shrooms of Matsutake:
The matsutake from China were the cheapest.

Canadian imports were slightly more expensive.

Koreans must know their shrooms, since the price of these is nearly double the others.

Then we get to the Japanese matsutakes - boom! $450 smackers for your culinary pleasure.
These shoppers were also amused by the prices. I love the way the younger lady points out the price tag while the older lady laughs. Magnifique!
You see stuff like this all the time, and it really hits home how stratified wealth has become. It's common to see a bowl of cut fruit for $7 in a supermarket, next to a $200 basket containing 4 or 5 apples and oranges, and maybe a little pineapple. The same goes for restaurants and a lot of consumer goods. At Daiso (a 100 yen chain) you can buy thousands of items for just over a buck. But cross the street and nearly the same thing (also likely made in China) could cost you triple or quadruple the amount.

Over the last 20 years, many consumer goods have gone down in price with persistent deflation and cheap imports. But wages haven't gone anywhere either (except down, in many fields). Still, if you've got the dosh and are jonesin for that perfect matsutake stir fry (they do look delicious!), life in Japan is all about the yenjamins!


Monsterforge said...

Great article, Andy! It always amazes me the stuff on which people will spend ridiculous amounts of money in just about any culture. I dig the idea of these Daiso stores! Makes me think of the Dollar Tree here. Nothing fancy, but you can find some neat stuff in there!

Keep up the good work, man! :D

andy b said...

Yeah the Daiso and other 100 yen shops are a lot like that. I mostly go in for the stationery. Just can't beat the prices. Still I don't like to linger too long, since the smell of reeking plastic is so strong. If I want a fumes bath, I'd rather hang out with some freshly painted sofubi. ;-)

ultrakaiju said...

Basically matsutake are the next closest thing to a truffle, hence the price. They grow in veyr limited areas, cannot be cultivated, and are extremely hard to find, as they only grow under leaf beds (hence invisible to the naked eye). Man 'shroomheads who come across a bed will usually guard the secret very closely, as there are few to go around. Still, the hunt is so much fun!

andy b said...

Interesting stuff! I imagine toy fiends finding hidden stashes of deadstock vintage gems might be as protective. ^_^

krakit said...

"prices have mushroomed!"
Ha ha ha well said

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