Japan's dagashi industry–inexpensive candy for kids and nostalgic grown-ups–is flagging under the same economic trends that hit mom-and-pop sweet shops in the west: giant supermarkets, online delivery, the rest of it. Nihon-ichi no Dagashi Uriba, literally "Japan's biggest Dagashi store," offers 50,000 types of dagashi and is the last redoubt for lovers of cheap treats.
In a 60-minute shopping spree one man's three grandchildren loaded their baskets with over 300 items, racking up a bill of 13,000 yen (~100 dollars). Even in the middle of Japan's meteoric inflation the grandfather doesn't mind. "The smile on their faces is priceless", he says with a smile himself.
Every year the store attracts 700,000 visitors. Residents of Osafune, a rural town of 12,000, love that their town now attracts over visitors not just from every corner of Japan but also from abroad, to try dagashi they couldn't find anywhere else.
The peculiar obsession with cheap candy and fizzy drinks in an astonishing proliferation of ephemeral brands seems shared by the British, too. But they are even more pressed for space than the Japanese. I wonder if there's something like this there, too.