Location, location, location ...
As our new business in Asakusa is still in the very early stages, we have no idea what the patterns of our life will be like. We've had days where people couldn't get up the stairs because it was so crowded, and we've had days where not a single person came in. And it doesn't really seem to be tied to particular days of the week; our data 'sample' is still so small that we just can't predict yet what things will be like when we open the doors on any given morning.
We know for sure just why last weekend was so busy - I had been on a major nationally broadcast TV program on Thursday night, and although our new shop wasn't mentioned at all, I had plenty of 'face time' on the program, and over the following few days, every time I went down the stairs and stood in front of the shop to watch the flow pass by, no more than a minute or so would pass before somebody would recognize me and stop to talk for a minute.
For actual celebrity types, going out on the street must be kind of unbearable, with traffic stopping, and people forming crowds, but at my very light level of 'fame', such as it is, I encounter no such problems. People in general are respectful of my privacy, and simply make a couple of pleasant comments about the program, before moving on. This only happens for a few days after the broadcast of any given TV appearance, and by the time a week has gone by, I again become anonymous, and nobody gives me a second glance.
But for those few days at least, the publicity did help our business. Not everybody who stopped to say hello ended up coming up the stairs, but some of them did, and the girls in our shop - seeing the pattern - kept sending me to stand outside everytime it became too quiet. Dave's bearded face was a much better 'attractor' than even our giant baren sign!
That's not the main reason though, that I go and stand outside the shop many times a day. I even go out to the street after we are closed, and I also go out there and take a stroll late in the evening before going to bed. It's such an interesting place! This might perhaps be an over-reaction on my part after spending so many years living in the quiet backwater of Ome, but I think not. This street - and my two blocks of it in particular - has a very long history. In the next block is the building that housed the very first movie theatre in Japan, and just around the corner from that is the place where the Ryōunkaku, the first 'skyscraper' in the country stood; at 12 stories tall, it must have been pretty impressive back in 1890!
On another corner in the next block are two theatres where long lines form every morning for the 'rush' seats for the vaudeville shows that play there almost daily. And my own block is one of the most interesting on the street: one of Tokyo's most famous French restaurants is here ("We apologize for being unbearably tasty!"), as is the self-proclaimed 'Smallest Theatre in the World' (which probably isn't, because it seats around 20 people for its daily comedy programmes). Two doors down is a jazz bar which sends mournful tenor sax sounds out into the late night air, and across the street from them is Japan's most famous restaurant for a certain 'specialty' meat (which shall remain nameless here, in order not to offend some Western readers ...), which attracts a steady stream of curious onlookers every evening, peering into the front window in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the many celebrities who patronize the place.
Two major chain game arcades are in the block around the back from my shop, as is a large Batting Dome, should you wish to practice your swing, and I can't count the number of karaoke buildings and pachinko parlours, there are so many.
And mixed in and around these are innumerable small bars, pubs, and restaurants of every type. It's no wonder there is a never-ending river of people strolling past my front door all day and night.
And now, from this month, Rokku-dori is home to yet one more new attraction, soon to become a 'must do' on every visitor to Tokyo's list ... the Print Parties at Mokuhankan. I think we've found the best possible place to do this, and we're looking forward to becoming part of the history of this famous old street!
Story #464, November 16, 2014