Monday, July 27, 2009

A world of magic and wonder – Let’s go to the Donki!

As promised just a little bit earlier, I thought I should here relate to my readers the wonders of the store called “Don Quixote” aka simple “Donki”. Don't ask me how the store got it’s name and how it in any shape or form is connected to the famous 17th century Spanish novel. Especially since their mascot character is a cute blue penguin (?). The stores also have a jingle that is extremely annoying and grinding to the soul, especially since it seems to be on constant repeat in their stores. As a special treat, the video above features busloads of the blue penguin mascot and also the annoying jingle, in a special extra-long version no less!

But now I jump a bit ahead of myself, a more objective explanation on what this “Donki” is would be in order I assume. Basically it’s a Japan wide chain of low price shopping centers that rose to prominence around ~10 years ago, just when I was baby salaryman here in Japan . By now, the stores are pretty famous and I think there are two properties in common for the Donki stores:

1. They carry anything you can imagine
2. They are deathtraps

As for point 1, the stores basically have everything you can imagine, from the highest high to the lowest low and basically everything in between. They carry electronical equipment, clothes, hardcore porn, video games, toys, foodstuff, DVD, sex toys, bathroom goods, hard liquor, brand- jewelry and accessories and freaky costumes, basically everything you could possibly need to life a meaningful life. Ok, they might not beat specialist stores in their line-up in any of those areas, but carry a pretty respectable line-up of all the mentioned stuff and more and usually at pretty reasonable prices as well.

What about point 2 then, you ask? Well, since the stores carry so much stuff (I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare it must be to manage logistics and purchasing for those stores…) the stores are extremely crowded and at times it can feel a bit like maneuvering through a labyrinth. The one thing that always lingers in my head when I'm inside one of those stores is what to do if there's a fire and sure enough, apparently I was not the only one. A few years back a mentally disturbed woman decided it would be a good idea to start a fire in the futon section in one of the stores, creating a fire that killed several people and spurred a few copycat fires in other Donki stores…

For some strange reason, this did not seem to create any visible changes in how they laid out their stores and even more strangely, it didnTt seem to stop the flow of customers either. I do visit a Donki from time to time (more dependant on my tolerance for the jingle) but fire safety is always up there in my mind, but hey, it's a fun store!


Kelly said...

Thanks for the lowdown, I had heard alot from my sister-in-law, she goes there to buy her american import fabric softener and she swears by it. I at first thought it must be a 100 yen store. I know I have been to one about 5 years ago when I was in Japan but I can't really remember.

So surprised it sells porn and sex toys though too!!

ThePenguin said...

I pass through the big Donki in Hyakunincho (it's got lots of exits) for muesli supplies every few weeks.

Showa said...

We used to love Donki when we were in Japan. Never bought Sex Toys though. Reading your blog feel that it was a missed opportunity.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Hmmmmm... Everyone but The Penguin latched on to the sex toys, what's wrong with you Penguin?!

ThePenguin said...

Well if you must, I also stock up on imported intimate rainwear while I'm there, as the local brands appear to be designed for a somewhat smaller market.

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