OK, this week's episode is going to be something a little bit different. I'm not really sure if there is a 'story' here, but something happened in our Asakusa shop this week that was just so out-of-the-ordinary that I have to tell you about it …
When we first opened the shop last autumn we had a strong burst of activity, with visits from collectors and friends from many countries stopping by during their travels in Japan. But as winter set in, the number of people climbing our stairs dropped off severely, and it is only with the arrival of spring that things here have come back to life again. For the past couple of weeks we have been run off our feet, and we are waiting to see whether or not this is a temporary 'spring bump' or if it will be this busy right through until autumn again.
In any case, almost every day this week we have had the experience of having a visitor come in who tells us, "I'm one of your fans! I have been collecting your prints!" We don't recognize them of course, as our dealings with them to date have been via email, but once they introduce themselves we can then get 'properly' acquainted. This happened on Thursday morning last week when a young couple came into the shop and let me know that they are collectors of our work - currently having the Portraits prints sent month-by-month to their home in Auckland, New Zealand.
We enjoyed chatting for a while, and although they didn't stay for a Print Party, they did pick up a couple more woodblock prints to take home, with our young clerk handling the transaction and the packing.
Roll ahead a few hours, and up the stairs just before closing time comes another young man. This one I know, because he was here a few days ago for a Print Party with his family. He is also a collector of our Portraits prints, picking up the set last year when it was first published, and he also lives in New Zealand, and I remark on this - that it's quite a coincidence having two collectors from the same country visiting here just a couple of hours apart, and that to triple the fun the two men have the same first name!
He asked about the other person, and although I have to be careful when showing personal data to other people, I did let him see the address, and his reaction was that it was not only the same city, but that it was 'just a few minutes from my place.'
We oohed and aahed about these coincidences for a while, and he then did his own shopping, picking up a couple of prints, one from our shin-hanga collection, and one from the Ukiyoe Heroes series, the design we call 'Fox Moon'. We chatted for a while, and as he left I went out with him to give directions to a place where his son would be able to find a particular arcade game he wanted to try.
After I returned to the shop, I closed it all down, and began the end-of-the-day paperwork, logging the day's print sales into our database. And it was then that I realized that the chain of coincidences wasn't done. I found that these two guests from that far-off country who had dropped by on the same day - both of them collectors of our Portraits prints - not only shared the same first name, came from the same city, the same neighbourhood ... but had bought the same woodblock print, the Fox Moon.
But what went wrong to cause them to miss each other by just a couple of hours!?!
Story #485, April 12, 2015
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