Golden Week AmusementIt's Golden Week in Japan right now, which means that people all over the country are hauling their families around on the only long vacation that many companies can afford to give to their employees. Carloads of people clog the highways and airline/hotel fares climb through the roof. It's boom season for the travel industry in Japan. Many people are taking their last chance to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom before the petals are scattered across the landscape.
For my part, I'm overdosing on baseball in between visits to family friends and long overdue errands. Pro Yakyu, Tokyo Big Six University League, Major League Baseball, you name it I'm watching. A little slice of heaven in an otherwise very busy routine. On one of my recent errand runs, I went to the local department store with my wife and baby boy. We had some clothes shopping to do for the little growing monster and I happened to stumble across a clothing display that you all might find very interesting.
You can see by the photos that (1) blond-haired Japanese mannequins are not all they're cracked up to be, and (2) the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is alive and well all over the country. (Throw in Manchester United and you have a rather odd trio.)
I went to a second store to buy yet another round of baby goods to keep the heir to the Matsuzaka Watch throne content, dry, fed, and otherwise well adjusted and found more Yankees/Red Sox apparel for toddlers staring me in the face. This is licensed MLB material here, so you know the proceeds go into the large pool of money that the league makes from merchandising. The other teams around baseball should be thanking their lucky stars and genuflecting at the NY/BOS altar for driving the engine of international merchandising. The small market clubs get an equal share of all the revenue generated by the sale of goods and apparel, and Japan is pouring money into their coffers at this point.
One can only imagine what will happen if and when the Red Sox sign an everyday player from Japan to guarantee the regular TV coverage that will go with their Matsuzaka/Okajima games. I'm sure you'll see the Mets in on this action before long, as well as a handful of other teams. What you'll notice in these pictures is the lack of other team merchandise. There may have been a Seattle shirt or two mixed into the rack, but I didn't see it. You don't see any White Sox clothing (Iguchi) or Tampa Bay good (Iwamura). Certainly you don't see any Cardinals (Taguchi) or Rockies (Kaz Matsui) shirts in those pictures. Buying a Japanese player for your club may help the team, but it's no guarantee that it will drive your merchandising. It has to be the right player that strikes the right chord with the Japanese fans.
I'll have more for you when Matsuzaka makes his next start, but in the meantime feel free to head over to some of my other blogs to reap the benefits of my abundant baseball watching during Golden Week.
Yu Darvish Watch
Yuki Saito Watch
Koji Uehara Watch