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SEEKING A TURTLE-PACED LIFE:
Consumers Enjoy Slowness in Today's High-Speed World
July 11, 2000
Two new phrases have been coined to describe this dichotomy--"dog year" and "turtle year." One year in the life of a dog year is popularly thought to equal about seven human years, so a "dog year" refers to a period crammed full of activity. Turtles, on the other hand, live longer than humans and are therefore thought to lead less hectic, more laid-back lives. A "turtle year" is therefore a period of relaxation, free of time constraints.
Slow Fast Food
Another business taking its time with things is a hamburger shop in the trendy Shibuya district of Tokyo. Unlike traditional fast-food joints, each burger is made to order, and even orange juice is fresh-squeezed on the spot. Orders take about five minutes to complete. The company has recently expanded to become the country's fourth largest hamburger chain, prompting some critics to hail the arrival of the "slow food" industry.
This kind of turtle-paced approach has also crept its way into some larger-sized products, such as housing. A cooperative system of house buying, where prospective buyers form a union, make a joint land purchase, and take part in the houses' planning and design, is becoming increasingly popular. While this approach allows prospective home owners to design a living space to fit their needs, the process takes time--as much as a year and a half until move-in day. Companies that offer this kind of plan say that these cooperatives are receiving upwards of 20 to 30 applications to join per day, and other major real-estate firms have also begun developing and selling property based on this co-op approach.
Getting There Half the Fun
The popularity of cruises has also been taking root. According to the Ministry of Transport, though the population of cruise takers was down overall in 1998 by 5% from the previous year, the share of cruises geared toward individual sightseeing has grown somewhat. "Travel packages where passengers fly to a certain destination and then board a cruise liner have become a fixture over the past few years," commented one major travel company.
This slowness phenomenon can be linked to a greater diversity among consumers, who are increasingly seeking order-made goods and services to suit their tastes. Some have also pointed out that these products, which require a high tolerance of time and expense on the part of general consumers, have received a boost from the increasing accessibility of information technology.
One irony resulting from this slowness boom is that those benefiting from these made-to-order goods and unhurried services as consumers are the same people who are having to step up the pace to meet these new demands when they return to the workplace.
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.