3 in 30 - 2000.06.18
Within the borders of the Mastsubara-cho (neighborhood), there are several active factories. The company whose entrance is shown here is Tachis. I am not exactly certain, but I believe they make automotive parts. I remember seeing pallets loaded with bucket seats one day. On the other side of the factory grounds, I remember seeing what looked like molded steel cabs, such as those used for backhoe machines or other equipment.
There used to be some old factories closer to the train line, but by the time we moved in they had been abandoned. Now, they have been torn down. One area has been replaced by an apartment building, another with an upscale used car lot. We have been told that another major area will soon be filled with a huge grocery store.
We have been of the opinion that zoning laws are non-existent, but I'm sure that it that if they exist, they are different from the ones we know. To have such factories in a residential area, or to have shops or small plots of farms mingled with residences, is not something that is common in midwest America. We are more familiar with getting in the car and driving somewhere to pick up a few groceries than simply walking down the street. We seem to want to drive to another neighborhood to spend some time at the pub rather than visit one just down the street.
This building on the premises of the Tachis company appears to be an apartment building. It is probably a company dormatory.
One of the conceptions of Japanese corporate policy is one of lifetime employment. Until fairly recently, this may have been a fairly accurate idea. The recent radical changes in Japanese economy have also seen radical changes in company policy. When we left the U.S. for Japan, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was about 6%. In Japan, it was considered high at almost 1%. Nine years later, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is below 4%, while in Japan, it has passed an incredible 4%.
The dormatories pictured here are probably for young single people, with not much more space than a small kitchen and bedroom which also serves as a living room when the bedding is put up. Several of our young Japanese friends have lived for the first few years of their employment in company dormatories.
It took us a while to figure out that the katakana Ba-I-Go- store was the English equivalent of Buy-Go. This Buy-Go is just across the street from the Tachis company. It is about six times the size of a typical convenience store such as 7-11, Family Mart or Lawsons. As such, it has a greater selection of staple foods, toiletries, home medicines, small household goods as well as fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
Out in front of the store, you can see empty delivery pallets to the left, stacked up boxes of facial tissues in the middle, and shopping baskets piled near the entrance on the right. This is a very convenient store for Tachis employees. Other stores are more convenient for us.