Japan goes Swedish
Dreaming of a luxury penthouse in a salubrious part of the city, I made my way to the newly-opened Ikea in an obscure area of Osaka called Tsuruhama.
They could’ve at least awarded me with the prize of a semi-salubrious aparto having made the trek out there. Afterall, you have to get an ordinance survey map of the area when you get off the loop line at Taisho, as the shuttle bus takes you to a no-man’s land (what about women? equal ops, anyone?) that transpires to be nothing less than an industrial ship yard surrounded by cranes. We’re not talking about twee paper ones, either. On the bus there are sneaky little posters peddling Ikea’s wares, and there is even a videoloop of a smily Swede jabbering on in perfect Queen’s (Emperoress’?) Japanese. Then it looms in front of you, a huge ominous navy blue building with that famous banana yellow logo. Finally, we have landed at Planet Ikea.
Which begs the question, how do you pronounce it? In my native Blighty, us provincials say “Ay-kee-ya”, but in other parts of the world, they say ”Ee-kei-ya”. Your guess is probably as stubborn as mine.
If you’ve got an interior furnishing fettish, this is so the place for you.
But if fancy forking out a mere snip of a coupla million yen for a nice new kitchen while surviving on a paltry wage, then this so isN’T the place for you.
All salubrious fantasies being dashed, I drowned my sorrows in a plate of Swedish meatballs at the cafeteria. I’m being deadly serious. About the meatballs. Not about the drowning of my sorrows, that is.
My Japanese cohort that I went with asked me if that is what Europe is really like, and said yes, it is, but only if you eat meatballs everyday.