This afternoon we decided to go to Seiyu to pick up a few things, most notably a new hat for Tiny Dog (TD) after his awesome Domo-kun hat was lost at Haneda airport, and some toys to keep him occupied at the house.
For a little background, in 2002 Walmart acquired a majority stake in Seiyu, a Japanese department store company. In 2003 they opened their first big box, Walmart style store in Numazu.
I lived in Numazu from 2004 – 2006 about 5 minutes away from the big box Seiyu on foot. It was incredibly convenient to be able to buy groceries and pretty much anything else 24 hours a day.
Overall, Walmart’s expansion in Japan has not been a success. There are a lot of very good articles explaining the reasons, but long story short Walmart was trying to provide something that people didn’t want.
Sometime since our last visit to Japan, Seiyu Numazu got a pretty serious remodel. The groceries were still there, but the housewares and most importantly the toys were all gone, replaced by a new clothing store and a 100 yen shop. We didn’t know this before we left, and had promised TD some new toys. That was a mistake.
There are few things on planet Earth more persistent than a 3 year old who has been promised something fun but has not received it yet. After a few laps around the store, we decided to occupy him with the huge selection of Gatcha machines near the store entrance. Gatcha machines are the ones with cheap toys inside little plastic capsules.
The cheap toys he got were fun, but not nearly as fun as putting money into the machines and turning the handle.
Lessons learned: things change when you are away for a few years, and never promise something to a kid unless you can get it to them in a reasonable period of time.