May 31, 2013

Convenience Store Supernatural Marketing Ploy

Day Two. Up early again and eager to go do stuff. Somehow, the combination of Marina screaming about something while still in her sleeping bag, and Elena being obstinate during breakfast, made us parental units lose it. This was long before 0600, folks. So I reckoned it was best to go spelunking again with the Rising Daughters to physically and mentally cool down.  Ladies E & M took my scolding in stride, then took in the smells and the sounds of the ocean. I am a sucker for salt air, and my irritation melted away in the warm breeze.

We proceeded to spend the day at the Izu Animal Kingdom, a thoroughly likeable “walking safari” experience, paired with a petting zoo that drew in Elena like a bee to a sunflower. It was a thoroughly memory-free experience for me, though. So many monkeys begging us for food seems to have imparted a frontal lobotomy effect on me; I have but two residual images of the entire wacky day:
1. Marina feeding endless carrot sticks to the giraffes, whose tongues…well, let’s just say I know where Gene Simmons got some of his ideas.

2. The choo-choo train ride between the safari and mini golf areas had a series of alluring naked woman statues lining the road. Wazzat? I couldn’t quite wrap my head around this spectacle in a “family zone” but I guess the sea of smut that is available to any kid with Internet access renders my thinking charmingly pre-digital age. Ja?
Driving back to the campground, we noticed several of the roadside convenience stores were bereft of their usual eye-catching colors.Whaa? No pretty colors to draw me in to buy your wares? 
This was offensive somehow…a kind of anti-marketing campaign?
These white/black only convenience stores along on Route 135 toward Shimoda became the subject of my curiosity. 
This means I droned to my poor, long-suffering wife about my many theories as to why major convenience store chains were doing this . Ultimately, I boiled it down to three sinister sources:
1. Some passive-aggressive marketing exec's expression of the yin-yang nature of his/her existence? Or perhaps the duality of man?
2. An ironic way of quietly showcasing Shimoda as the site of a historic trade deal in 1854 that pried open Japan from its closed door policy to trade with the revered/dreaded gaijins. Shimoda was where Adm. William Perry landed with the much-feared “black ships” for the second time to open some Japanese ports to foreign (read: US) trade and end its 200+ years of enforced seclusion. In other words, screw you, round-eyed dogs, don’t localize your penchant for bland and boring convenience here in old Nippon.
3. Satan decided to take control and manage a few of these localized little gold mines that suck the marrow from your soul as quickly as it sucks the money from your wallet. The Angel of Darkness, too, knows that it’s all about location, location, location.

I just had to know the reason. So I asked a hapless and slightly befuddled clerk why the store signs were just black and white? Alas, like Adolph Eichmann, it was not about the banality of evil but rather a slightly inept way of trying to preserve the coastal road’s beauty by keeping the storefronts unobtrusive to the eye--the idea being that the bright colors detract from the natural adorableness of the landscape.

I still think it is some kind of supernatural marketing ploy. But thinking about it kept me awake on the long drive home. Thus, we arrived home safe and sound.

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