(PICTURE: My student doing crowd control in front of Uniqlo. That's him talking to a woman about what had sold out inside the store.)
On Friday I asked my students what they were doing on the weekend. One of my students told me that he was going shopping at Uniqlo at 6AM. I asked him if he was going to be breaking the window and robbing the store since they don't open till later. He told me that it was Uniqlo's big sale and that they were opening very early on Saturday morning. I guess I should say at this point that Uniqlo is considered "The Japanese Gap."
I just so happen to have another student who works part-time at Uniqlo and when he came into my class later in the day, I asked him all about the sale. He told me that it was Uniqlo's 60th anniversary and that almost everything was on sale. He said that the first 60 people would be able to buy 10 Yen socks (roughly a dime) and that the store would have bread and milk for people at 5:45 AM.
I thought, heck I like sales and decided to go. I emailed Masumi and Kensuke on Friday night and told them of my plan and asked if they wanted to ride bikes at 5:30 AM. Shockingly, Masumi and Kensuke agreed.
The next morning, amidst the pitch blackness and freezing cold weather, we rode the five miles or so to Uniqlo. As we were riding I noticed something strange -- there were a lot of cars on the road for five in the morning. It didn't take me long to figure out that lots of people were going to this sale. As we approached the store, the road near it was lined up with cars who couldn't get parking spots (Mom, picture Route 10 being backed up because the Marshall's parking lot was full). We parked our bikes and joined the end of the line. From my best guesstimate there were about 600-800 people waiting in line ahead of us. When the store opened the doors they let in a small amount of people in at a time. It took us about one hour before we got into the store. While we were waiting, every fifteen minutes or so an employee would come out and announce in Japanese that something had sold out. The first thing to go were the socks. The second thing to go were women's leggings. Luckily, I'm bigger than the average Japanese and was able to find a few grandpa-style cardigans that I had wanted to buy (I can assure you that you will be seeing these cardigans in more than a few upcoming pictures). I also bought Huyen a couple of things that I had her pick out the night before while telling her of my plan on Skype.
Anyway, this is a warning for anyone who might be in Japan in five years: Make sure you get to Uniqlo at 5:30 AM for their 65th anniversary sale.