【 STORE STORY 】
Posted by Dave Bull at 9:44 AM, September 11, 2015 [Permalink]
We are very big fans - very - of Square, the payment processing company. Our Asakusa shop caters to many tourists every day, and it is essential that we have smooth and safe credit card processing available for these people. Traditional credit card services here in Japan are stunningly expensive for the merchants, which is why so few shops here take credit cards. So why post about this here? Well, Square likes us too! They have just featured our shop on their 【 STORE STORY 】blog.
(It's all in Japanese, but you can enjoy the pretty pictures!)
All the Print News that Fits ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 9:49 PM, August 6, 2015 [Permalink]
Because our shop in Asakusa is somewhat off the beaten path - at least when it comes to woodblock print shops, which are for the most part clustered in the Jimbocho district - most of the people who visit us did not seek us out because we are a print shop; they either came to see the Ukiyoe Heroes prints, they came for a Print Party, or they just dropped in randomly.
We have thus learned over the past months since we opened, that very few of our visitors actually know much about woodblock prints. Is this a problem? Of course not at all; it's a wonderful opportunity!
But it does mean that quite a lot of the conversations we have with people here sometimes tend to veer into 'teaching' mode - we end up explaining not only such things as how the prints were made, but a great deal of background information on them as well.
The other day I came up with a way to help our staff deal with this situation. I am going to create - bit by bit over the coming months and years - a number of small pamphlets that we will pass out to visitors that will help them learn about the things that they see in the shop. Of course we will continue to explain as much as necessary, but I think having such material also on hand will help a great deal.
There is no reason that such material should be confined to the Asakusa shop, so we'll also post them online so that other people can 'read along' too. The first one - a small (4-page) pamphlet talking about one of the prints in our inventory, the well known 'Shinjuku' print by Toshi Yoshida, is now ready. This is an image of the first page ...
… or you can use this link to download the pamphlet in .pdf format.
Any feedback (or suggestions for future content) would be appreciated ...
Another very big day ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 9:45 AM, August 3, 2015 [Permalink]
Here is a very rare scene … this is not something you see me holding every day of the week, for sure ...
The occasion? This small snippet clipped from a page of a book just published yesterday …
The book in question is the new Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo, the 2015 edition. It seems that they have been renewing this series every two years, and the 2013 edition has just been replaced.
We frequently see tourists strolling down our street with a Lonely Planet guide in hand … and most of them pass straight by, with their nose buried in it. Well, hopefully starting soon they'll be looking up when they get to our place!
(And now, our fingers are crossed yet once again. This is the 'Tokyo' guide, but I believe that the Lonely Planet 'Japan' guide is much more important, as many people plan to travel down the length of the country (Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc.), and thus purchase that volume instead. Will we be in the Tokyo section of that one too? We'll find out in a few weeks, when the new version hits the shelves …)
Asakusa shop data ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 10:43 AM, July 12, 2015 [Permalink]
In the Asakusa shop, we don't have a traditional cash register; I think those things are expensive and outdated. We use an iPad outfitted with 'register' software and a credit card reader, and this handles most of what we need. Most customers of course pay by cash or card, but we also have some who wish to pay via Paypal or Bitcoin, and for those we have a computer standing by with the appropriate software running to handle such transactions.
All the sales information flows through the iPad into a database, so it's easy for us to get readouts of interesting data.
Here's an image showing the accumulated sales since we opened last fall (officially on November 1st, but with one Print Party happening the afternoon before …)
You can see that we had an initial burst, which turned out not to be sustainable. This was presumably 'pent up' demand waiting for us to open, but for the next few months the winter 'tourist slump' shows clearly.
You can then see the spring 'Sakura Bubble' when the streets were flooded with visitors from overseas. This lasted a few weeks, and things then settled down again.
We have yet to see a full year pattern, but I guess that through July and August we are going to see pretty steady growth. Autumn is also a busy season in this district, and we will perhaps then become quiet again through the winter. Our 'plan' (such as we have one) will be to study the yearly pattern, and then try to encourage local demand during the times when foreign visitor numbers are low.
The bottom left graph is of course the weekly pattern. We're (usually) closed on Tuesdays as you can see, but the interesting thing is that the Tuesday business is simply shifted to Wednesdays! So we're not really losing anything by having a closing day, I think. Visitors to Tokyo are simply scheduling their visits around our pattern. (Maybe we should close six days a week, and concentrate all our efforts on one spectacularly busy day each week!
Great Wave video … part thirteen
Posted by Dave Bull at 5:01 PM, July 5, 2015 [Permalink]
Nearly done with our Great Wave series!
My new job ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:50 PM, June 28, 2015 [Permalink]
Dave gets a moment of global fame ...
I haven't been very successful at keeping this blog up to date recently, as just about everything else that I do here has a higher 'priority', but I came across something today that was just too rich to miss!
One day shortly after moving into the shop in Asakusa, I checked the Google Street View of our street (known as Roku Dori) and found - as expected - that our shop sign was not visible. The view I saw must have been taken perhaps a couple of years earlier, as a nearby large building was still just a hole in the ground. I suspected that it would be quite a while before the Google car made another pass down our street, although I of course don't know their schedule for refreshing these views …
Well, I checked again this evening just in case there had been an update, and found that - yay! - they've been by recently, and our shop - and its sign - are now visible! Here's the Google view as you enter the street, with our shop just barely visible over at the left ...
When you move closer, and 'turn your head' to the left, you see our sign clearly.
The front door is open, and one of our flags is outside. The neighbouring shoe shop is not open yet, so it must be around nine in the morning, I guess. But look at this! Move slightly to the left, and what do we see?? Dave is out there doing the morning street cleaning!
The Google car must have passed by right in front of me, and I never noticed. Too busy doing 'my part' to keep our neighbourhood clean … :-)
If you would like to view this yourself, just punch our address [Tokyo, Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-41-8] into a Google search box, and once the street map is visible, drop the little orange mannikin onto the street in front of our shop to bring up Street View. I have no idea how long I will be 'frozen in time' sweeping, before being replaced by a newer snapshot ...
Great Wave video - part twelve ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 12:29 AM, May 22, 2015 [Permalink]
New print display panel ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:09 AM, May 20, 2015 [Permalink]
A new display panel in the Asakusa shop ..
We're still building out the shop, bit by bit as we get time (or as I manage to overcome another bout of procrastination and decision making …), and this weekend we finally put up the display board for some of our current offerings of subscription prints.
The left side of the panel shows the entire set of Chibi Heroes that we produced back in 2013, and which are still re-printing to keep up with demand:
And the other side has the full set of Ukiyoe Heroes Portraits from 2014. These prints also are also doing very well, and keeping not only our own printers, but also an outside freelance printer, constantly busy.
We've still got lots of unused wall space here, and hundreds of woodblocks in the storeroom … stay tuned!
Great Wave video - part eleven ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 2:43 AM, May 9, 2015 [Permalink]
The epic journey to make the Great Wave design continues ...
NHK program coming up
Posted by Dave Bull at 1:45 PM, April 27, 2015 [Permalink]
We're featured on NHK in a program about Asakusa next week ...
We're on NHK next week, on their BS Premium channel, broadcast both here in Japan, and worldwide on various cable providers. (This isn't NHK World, the English-language channel, but a Japanese-language program.)
The program is Tokyo Deep (or is it Deep Tokyo?) and will appear at 7 in the evening, May 4th (Tokyo time). I have no idea when/how/where it will appear on cable outlets.
As you can tell from the title, it features various 'hidden' places in Tokyo, and that episode zooms in on Asakusa; we're one of a half-dozen places featured in the program.
It's hosted by a well-known model, Ubukata Nanae, and here's a screencap they are providing in advance of the broadcast.
Posted by Dave Bull at 10:45 PM, April 25, 2015 [Permalink]
A new addition to the decoration in our Asakusa shop!
It's been far too long since I've brought any updates on the progress of building out the Asakusa shop. Since we got up and running late last year, we have mostly just focussed on keeping the place going, but I was recently browsing through the notebook I prepared when building the shop, and realized that there are still a lot of places not yet 'finished', so last night after the shop was closed I took a bit of time out and got to work on one of those …
Here's a photo taken from the central shop room after I finished, looking down through the window into the stairway:
What you are seeing there, pasted up on the side of the staircase, are stills from some of the TV appearances I have made over the past 'few' years.
Quite a number of other shops in this Asakusa area - particularly restaurants - have a small poster outside, or perhaps stuck in a window, that shows such stills from TV programs. It seems that every restaurant showing such TV coverage ends up with very long lines outside every weekend lunchtime. Maybe we can leverage our coverage to the same effect?
It was quite a 'memory lane' trip for me while preparing the slides - some of these programs date back 25 years! Who is that guy in the photo?!?
The newest ones of course show quite a different person …
What did I do to deserve all that white!?
For anybody interested, some years back I put a number of these programs (in very small format, unfortunately) up on the website in the Woodblock Shimbun media collection.
Great Wave video - part ten ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:41 PM, April 22, 2015 [Permalink]
For more entries, please make a selection from the 'Table of Contents' section of the SideBar on the right ...