October 10, 2018
Tokyo- The sales season for Japan's "osechi" traditional New Year food has started in earnest this month, with major department stores aiming to boost sales by offering a range of original products that cater to the tastes of different generations.
Since the next New Year will be the last during the current Heisei era, department stores are cashing in on the opportunity to sell osechi products that look back on the 30-year period, marked by phenomena such as the asset-inflated bubble economy and the introduction of a more relaxed education policy.
The Heisei era, which started in 1989, is set to end on April 30 next year with Emperor Akihito's abdication.
Matsuya Co. is accepting reservations for an osechi box that contains truffles and other high-end ingredients at a whopping price of 162,000 yen, targeting people in their 50s and 60s who experienced the bubble economy.
For the younger generation who grew up under the "yutori" relaxed education policy, the store is offering colorful and visually attractive osechi products that would look good on social media.
"We hope our customers will enjoy the osechi dishes while talking about the things that happened during the Heisei era," a Matsuya official said.
Takashimaya Co. has put on sale osechi products with the theme of the works of the late renowned Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tezuka in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of his birth next month.
The dishes are sprinkled with illustrations of Tezuka's manga series characters, such as "Tetsuwan Atomu" (Astro Boy) and "Black Jack," which are popular across generations.
A Takashimaya official said the products are aimed at attracting three generations, from grandparents to their grandchildren.
J. Front Retailing Co., which runs Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores, is selling steak and "yakitori" grilled chicken on skewers for the New Year, on top of the more traditional Japanese-style osechi menu.
"Nowadays, fewer households eat osechi through the first three days of the year," a company official noted.
At Sogo & Seibu Co., a unit of Seven & i Holdings Co., customers can choose any combination from 18 Japanese, Western and Chinese osechi boxes. Jiji Press
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