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Fashion retailer H&M opens first shop in Tokyo

In September more than 4,000 people waited in line on the opening day of the first H&M in Japan. H&M, a Swedish based retailer, plans to open more stores in the highly competitive market of Japan. Some people think that H&M can stake a claim in the Japanese market, while others believe the barriers to success are too high.

I found this story in the weekly magazine, Sande Mainichi.


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Real Japanese

…うわっ!やはり行列はできていた。最後尾は300メートル先。日本人は行列するのが好き。それに、海外の初モノに弱い。客層は8割が女性で、もはや銀座の新名所と言えそうだ。

According to one expert…

日本は世界で最もファッションの感性が高い国。レベルが高いんです。若い女性は渋谷のファッションビル「SHIBUYA109」に行けば、H&Mと変わらない値段ではるかにかわいい商品が買える。ミッシー、ミセスなら「しまむら」、ベーシックアイテムなら高品質のユニクロがある。日本市場でH&Mが入り込む隙はないと見ます。

English Translation

Wow! There is some line here. The line goes on for 300 meters. Japanese like long lines. And they have a weakness for new products from overseas. Since eighty percent of the customers that go to H&M are women, you can say that H&M is already the new place to see in Ginza.

However, according to one expert…

Japan is the most fashion-conscience country in the world. The level of fashion here is high. If a young woman goes to “Shibuya 109″ fashion building in Shibuya, she could buy something much cuter for the same price there than she could at H&M. As for women in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, they will go to “Shimamura.” And for basic items there are Uniqlo’s high quality products. I can’t see any niche for H&M to enter in the Japanese market.

Direct Translation

ぎょうれつ                      ぎょうれつ
/…うわっ!/やはり           行列     は          できていた。/
/Wow! / as I expected     line      as for    has been made/
/Wow! /There is some line here./

さいこういび                                         さき
/最後尾                  は          300メートル      先。/
/end of the line    as for     300 meters     ahead/
/The line goes on for 300 meters./

にほんじん                ぎょうれつ                     すき
/日本人          は        行列する        のが          好き。/
/Japanese   as for   make lines   (nom.)       like/
/Japanese like long lines./

.              かいがい はつもの                                  よわい
/それに、   海外の初モノ                             に            弱い。/
/and       new things from overseas       for           weakness
/And they have a weakness for new products from overseas./

きゃくそう                                   わり               じょせい
/客層                           は        8割        が       女性
/type of customers    as for   80%      (subj.)  women
/Since  eighty percent of the customers that go to H&M are women,

.             ぎんざ    しんめいしょ                                いえそうだ
もはや      銀座  の  新名所                       と              言えそうだ。/
already   new place to see in Ginza      (quote)       you can say ( informal)/
you can say that H&M is already the new place to see in Ginza./

にほん                せかい     もっとも        かんせい        たかい    くに
/日本       は        世界    で  最もファッションの感性   が         高い      国。/
/Japan   as for     world  in fashion-conscience (sub.)    most     country/
/Japan is the most fashion-conscience country in the world./

.                        たかい
/レベル   が         高い      んです。/
/level   (subj.)    high     is (explanation)/
/The level of fashion (here) is high./

わかいじょせい                 しぶや                            いけば
/若い女性            は        渋谷のファッションビル「SHIBUYA109」 に  行けば、
/young woman  as for  “Shibuya 109″ fashion building      to  if (she) goes
/If a young woman goes to “Shibuya 109″ fashion building in Shibuya,

.         かわらないねだん                                           しょうひん
H&Mと変わらない値段                     で     はるかにかわいい     商品
not a different price at H&M       for     much cuter            product

.          かえる
が        買える。
(subj.)  can buy/
she could buy something much cuter for the same price there than she could at H&M./

/ミッシー、 ミセス   なら      「しまむら」、/
/missy     Mrs.   as for    shimamura/
/As for women in their 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s, they will go to “Shimamura.”/

.                     こうひんしつ
/ベーシックアイテムなら    高品質のユニクロ                            が        ある。/
/as for basic items       Uniqlo’s high quality products   (subj.) are
/[And] for basic items there are Uniqlo’s high quality products./

にほんしじょう                                           はいりこむすき    みます
/日本市場                 で  H&M    が               入り込む 隙 はないと見ます。/
/Japanese market  in  H&M    (subj.)  [I]  can’t see any niche to enter/
/I can’t see any niche for H&M to enter in the Japanese market./

Japanese Language Points

客層 - “type of customers”

新名所 - “the new hot spot” or “the new place to see”

ファッションの感性 - “fashion sense” or “fashion-conscience”

H&Mと変わらない値段ではるかにかわいい商品が買える。

  • Literally, “For a price that is not different from H&M, (she) could buy something much cuter (at “Shibuya 109.”)
  • My translation is, “she could buy something much cuter for the same price there than she could at H&M.”

ミッシー、ミセスなら「しまむら」 - This can be translated as one sentence.

  • ミッシー - “Missy” or a woman in her 20’s.
  • ミセス - “Mrs.” or a woman in her 30’s or 40’s.
  • しまむら - “しまむら” is a fashion retail chain in Japan.

My translation is,  ”As for women in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, they will go to “Shimamura.” “

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