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Sendai swings: Secondary budget boosts Rolex sales, sex shop openings

Shukan Jitsuwa Jan. 26
Shukan Jitsuwa Jan. 26

“At the end of December, we sold a Piaget watch costing 2.4 million yen,” says a 78-year-old male owner of a long-running watch store. “Since last summer, each day we have been selling an average of five Rolex wristwatches, ranging in price from a half-million to 1.5 million yen. The last time we had such a rush was during the bubble two decades ago.”

Indeed, a surprising claim in the current economic climate, but then again maybe not when one learns the shop is located in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, the largest city in the Tohoku region to be impacted by last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake.

Shukan Jitsuwa (Jan. 5) says the boom is due to the government’s second supplementary budget to reconstruct stricken areas.

“We see about five Rolex watches in the ballpark of one million yen sold a day,” says the 55-year-old head of the jewelry section at a Sendai department store. “Diamonds and high-end, gold-made accessories, which can be easily converted into cash, top our sales. This section has tripled yearly sales compared to last year.”

Other department stores, such as Mitsukoshi and Fujisaki, have seen similar increases.

In the Kokubuncho red-light district, demand for clubs offering sex is firming back up. According to the tabloid, the area’s 3,000 bars and eateries are flourishing.

“Immediately after the earthquake, a flock of insurance agents hit the streets,” says a local fuzoku writer. “Then you’ve got locals who have received nice insurance payouts. After Golden Week, the number of visitors from outside the area boomed just as the recovery projects started up. Once the second budget revision was enacted (over the summer), which poured additional money into the recovery, buildings that were vacant saw snack joints and hostess and dance clubs open inside.”

The tabloid wonders how much longer this will continue.

“After the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake occurred in 2004, the recovery continued for three years,” says a local writer. “The nightlife area of Kobe flourished for four or five years following the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Local economies are anticipating seeing an impact for between five and six years, by when all non-locals will have left the scene.”

Source: “Jimoto fuzoku mo han wa shisai fukko toku,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Jan. 26, page 213)

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