Archive for the ‘Annals of cheap’ Category

Annals of cheap: Gyoza no Osho

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The Nishi Nippori branch of Osho

The Nishi Nippori branch of Osho

Only a handful of businesses have managed to actually increase sales during the current economic downturn. Two are no-brainers: fast-food Leviathan McDonald’s and cheapo clothing retailer Uniqlo. Less generally known is the fact that the restaurant chain, Gyoza no Osho, has enjoyed 74 consecutive months of sales growth. Revenues for the quarter ending in June were ¥15.5 billion, which is 23 percent more than sales for the same quarter in 2008. Some months have even seen a 100 percent increase in revenues over the previous year.

As the name indicates, Osho’s specialty is gyoza (pot sticker), but it’s more of a general purpose Chinese food chain than a restaurant that pushes ramen — which is prominent on the menu, but stir fry seems to be more their bag. The first Osho opened in Kyoto in 1967, and now there are 533 outlets nationwide, though almost none in northern Japan, which doesn’t seem that interested in Chinese food.

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Annals of cheap: Garigari-kun

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

garigari2a

The two original flavors: “soda” (top) and “muscat of Alexandria”

It’s been a relatively cool summer overall, and while the temperatures have had something to do with the drop in sales of beer (or “beer-like” beverages) and air conditioners, it doesn’t seem to have had much of an adverse effect on Japan’s favorite packaged frozen snack, Garigari-kun, which added a few new flavors this past season.

Garigari-kun is classified as “bo (stick or bar) ice candy,” which means it has a lot of competition. Ice candy is more popular in Japan than ice cream owing to its associations with the traditional summer treat kakigori (shaved ice), and if you look in your local convenience store freezer you’ll find a large and confusing array of ice candy, both bar and cup types, that seem interchangeable. But Garigari-kun always outsells them all by a huge margin, and one of the reasons is the price: only ¥60. The Sankei-Fuji website says that the dairy company Akagi Nyugyo sold 255 million Garigari-kun bars in 2008.

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