Just over a year ago, one of my first posts was about my favourite neighbourhood bakery, Good Morning Asagaya. And earlier this year, I was quite disappointed to say “Good-bye Good Morning Asagaya” as they were closing their doors for good. Perhaps the 600,000 yen monthly rent was too much for a small bakery and four-table café to cover, regardless of how good the margin is on baked goods. So for the better part of a year, walking past the empty shop, I waited with anticipation to see who (and what) would replace my go-to gluten source. If it was to be a Family Mart or 7-11, I had my gasoline ready. Or at least a stern frown of displeasure prepared.
What do you do do when one-third of your nation’s population lives in one little region in the middle of the country? Well, if your business (or government) in that central area you may be okay (unless your rent is too high). If your business is located in the other 90% of the country, then you’d love to get the attention of some of the people there. To say hello and entice them to visit your little corner of the country. Enter the wasei-eigo (Japanized English) concept of the Antenna Shop (アンテナショップ).
The term “antenna shop” originally referred to commercial spaces set up by corporations testing the waters for consumer tastes and demand. And while the corporations are still at it, of course, the term is now largely associated with shops promoting regional goods–or offering popular favourites usually only available locally. Like those tasty little Shiroi Koibito cookies only being available in Hokkaido… and the Airport Duty-Free.
While they date back to the early 90’s, the few couple years have shown a growing number of regionally sponsored shops popping up around Japan’s major urban areas. There are currently over 50 antenna shops in Tokyo, which you can read more about here. And one of the new additions to that growing list is at the south end of Asagaya Pearl Shotengai.
The recently opened Kumejima (久米島印商店) is the new tenant of the (extensively and beautifully renovated) space previously occupied by Good Morning Asagaya. And they have come to promote one of Okinawa’s outer islands–the volcanic island of Kumejima, 100 km west of the prefectural capital Naha. Although one of the larger islands in terms of land area, it has a population of just over 8,200 people, and main industries of sugar cane production and tourism.
For Kumejima in Asagaya, lunch and “café” times both run from 11 am to 3 pm, with dishes ranging from 550 to 850 yen. Add 100 yen to make any plate a drink set. You’ll of course get a larger menu and wider selection at dinner time. It’s an à la carte menu with dishes ranging from 320 to 880 yen. All the food is local cuisine specific to Kume Island.
And as they are there to promote the whole island, they not only serve up delicious local island dishes, they also have a shop section with local booze (awamori, shochu, etc.), jams, sauces, oils, salts, snacks, soaps and handmade goods. The staff is nice and, naturally, they have brochures and a travel mag or two.
Suginami-ku, Tokyo, 166-0004
Tel: (03) 5929-9332
11:00 to 23:00
Lunch: 11:00 to 15:00
Dinner: 17:00 to 23:00 (LO 22:00)
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