Monday, 22 February 2010

Tesco in Kichijoji .... kind of

I have always known there was a Tesco outlet in Tokyo. My students said it was in Chiba (eastern Tokyo) but that it was rubbish. And since the only time I go west of Tokyo Station is to get to Narita airport, I had never bothered going there. But last week when a colleague said he could buy Branston Pickle from a Tesco in Ookubo I decided to look it up on the net. In fact there are 54 Tesco outlets, most of which can be found in a supermarket chain called Tsurukame Land. Since there is a Tsurukame Land store in Kichijoji I decided to walk over there and find it. Well, I wandered around near the train tracks for about half an hour before finding Tsurukame Land actually under the tracks. It`s a bottom-end supermarket although the prices are still higher than my local Co-op. Sure enough it carries Tesco items: Tesco soy sauce, Tesco seaweed, Tesco dried squid and Tesco bean snacks. But it also has Tesco milk, Tesco grated cheese, Tesco plain yoghurt, Tesco white bread, Tesco instant coffee (but no Tesco tea!), and Tesco Bourbons, Malted Milks, Custard Creams and Choc Chip biscuits. There is no Tesco beer, preserves or Branston Pickle or any other Tesco products. I`m not sure what I expected to find there, some item that could epitomise the Great British cuisine, I guess. Black Pudding? Chips? Scones? I settled for Pumpkin seeds.

Tsurukame Land seems an odd choice to carry Tesco products. It`s a supermarket of the stack`em high sell`em cheap variety. And yet Tesco milk is 157 Yen, in the Co-op it`s only 138. Also it`s trying to sell Japanese products to the Japanese. What on earth is the point of that? What can Tesco be getting out of the deal? Does Tsurukame Land have some Chinese connection, I wonder? Are the bulk of Tesco`s goods headed for a supermarket in China?

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