April 2, 2017 12:00 pm JST

'Real' manga shop in Tokyo targets tourists

Industry hopes the real thing can weed out overseas counterfeits

YUKO NAGAE, Nikkei staff writer

Anime and manga character goods are piled up in animate JMA Tokyo Tower.

TOKYO -- An alliance of major Japanese manga publishers has opened a specialty shop in Tokyo that has a rather hefty mission -- to dent overseas counterfeit sales.

It will carry out this mission by appealing to tourists and hoping that giving them access to the real thing discourages purchases of fake goods back home.

The shop -- animate JMA Tokyo Tower -- is in the Tokyo Tower Tourist Information Center, which opened on March 1 and is run by JTB Communication Design. The 100-sq.-meter shop stocks some 2,000 anime goods -- snacks, clear document folders and key chains among them.

Manga and anime characters that are popular among foreigners, like Doraemon, Pokemon and Ghibli characters, also populate the store. Japanese manga and other goods are available in English and Chinese, and sales people speak those languages.

Japan Manga Alliance was set up in September 2015 by Kadokawa, Kodansha, animate, Shueisha and Shogakukan. Each publisher contributed about 100 million yen ($898,000). The purpose of the surprise alliance among rivals was to tackle widespread counterfeits overseas.

The alliance is also opening shops abroad. An outlet that opened in February 2016 in Bangkok has been successful so far, with the number of customers doubling and sales exceeding initial estimates.

"Once Thais gained access to authentic products, they have been gradually becoming more interested in [buying] the real thing," JMA President Shingo Kunieda said.

JMA chose Japan for its second shop because many of the foreign tourists flooding into the country have a keen interest in Japanese anime. The company hopes visitors to the shop will learn to appreciate the difference and opt out of buying fake goods at home.

The Tokyo outlet has been busy. A woman from Taiwan was happy that "the shop carries an unusually wide range of anime goods."

Besides popular anime figurines and stuffed toys, jigsaw puzzles are selling well, according to a shop representative.

JMA, which plans to open more shops outside Japan, is considering the U.S. and Europe.

In some countries, fans of Japanese pop culture buy counterfeit goods because nothing else is available.

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