We were fortunate to be having breakfast this morning at Victory Cafe, a small chain with 13 cafes across Japan, one of which is on Asagaya’s Pearl Shotengai. Noticing a line of people forming outside, I asked the girl behind the counter what was so special next door. She informed me they were queuing to pick up their shohinken.
To be more precise, they were picking up their Suginami Premium Shohinken (杉並プレミアム商品券), or “Sugimoney” as I call it. Sugimoney is a private currency created by the Sugi Shoren (Suginami Commerce & Industry Association) for use in Suginami-ku.
As a way to promote local spending within Suginami-ku, they offer an immediate 15% return on Japanese yen. A booklet containing the equivalent of JPY 11,500 sells for JPY 10,000.
A map and links to all the shotengai websites in Suginami-ku can be found here on the Sugishoren website.
I have also scanned a PDF of the map of participating Asagaya Pearl Shotengai shops.
Sugimoney goes on sale every year and the notes purchased today are valid until December 15 of this year. I believe the limit is 2 books per person. Reservations can be made in advance and are recommended. As we were strolling down Pearl Shotengai with our booklet in hand we heard an announcement over the P.A. system that they were sold out of Sugimoney. It was 10:18 am.