Monday, 17 December 2007

The Inaugural 100 Yen Shop Challenge!

100 Yen shops are, of course, the Japanese equivalent of the humble pound shop, or the American “Dollar Store”. However, 100 Yen shops are a far more advanced and mutated beast, with a bewildering range of products on offer, some essential, some almost without need, use or reason. Foreigners here always comment on this, how much crazy crap you can pick up at 100 Yen shops, so we thought - let’s put a very, very little bit of money where our mouths are! We resolved to find as much weird shit as we could, and to make it SCIENTIFIC, we decided to make it into a competition. Five items at a maximum of 105 Yen each (yes, sadly the “100 Yen Shop” moniker is pre-tax), the aim to find the weirdest, gaudiest or most unlikely objects, and a final independent judging.


THE CONTENDERS! Your Humble Narrator: primed and ready for the unusual, the unknowable, the unfathomable. Tara Smith: never has such a ruthless eye for useless shit been crammed into the skull of so unassuming a Michigander. “Teenage” Matt Longarini: the windy city’s loss is Sapporo’s gain; out to show that age never comes before beauty.

THE ARENA! Sapporo Daiso. 5 floors of bargain basement goodies, from sweets to building supplies to pet goods to gardening equipment to toys to stationery to...

525 Yen each! Half an hour! Go!



After the smoke had cleared it was clear that EVERYONE was a winner. Unlike war of course, where no-one is a winner. Anyway the actual winner, as decided in a bar later that night by our friend Yuka, was Tara even though she ran ten minutes over time (I was two minutes over, Matt was early – and also managed to buy one item from each floor of the store, so kudos to him for that), because she found what may possibly be the unbeatable, final answer to all 100 Yen Shop Challenges – a “Buttocks Washing Seat” so that you can care for your elderly relatives. So that you can wash their buttocks that is. How could we possibly trump that? Impossible, nevertheless here are the final scores:



MATT

- Novelty Inflating Breasts – to be concealed under your clothes until needed.

- Hideous Plastic Dachshund Christmas Ornament

- Glass with cryptic definition of “Fragrance” written on it.

- Horrible, gurning “War Photographer” Figurine

- Illustrated Japanese “No Dog Fouling” Sign



ALEX

- Beautiful Revolving Stars and Stripes Ornament

- “Rodeo – United States of America” Business Card Case

- “No Urinating” sign, with adorable “Peeing Boy” statue picture

- Combination Whistle / Compass / Thermometer

- Squeaky Plastic Dog Head Bicycle Horn Thing



TARA

- Phenomenal Buttocks Washing Seat

- A whole cooked corn cob

- “You Can Be A Drag Queen” Plastic Mask Kit

- Wild Dove Repellent

- Miniature Bust of Thomas Jefferson

Yeah, looking back at it now I’d have to say that even with points deducted for running over time and trying to slip more than five items past the judges, Tara pretty much took us to school with that lot. The novelty breasts gave Matt an early lead, but sadly Tara and I had already seen them, taking away some of their impact. So, well played Ms Smith… THIS TIME!

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