TOKYO -- Spending on leisure and luxuries is showing signs of a revival in Japan as the central bank continues its war on deflation, creating scenes reminiscent of the bubble era of the 1980s.
The Maharaja dance club, which thrived during those go-go days, is back in business and attracts many guests who were in their 20s and 30s at the time. A location that opened in Kyoto's Gion geisha district last September enjoys a jump in traffic after 11 p.m.
"It feels like we've traveled back in time," a 46-year-old woman from Osaka gushed. Women in tight outfits boogied like it was 1989.
The club got its start in Osaka in 1982 and expanded into Tokyo's wealthy Azabu Juban area in 1984, only to eventually shut its doors with the bursting of the economic bubble. The chain's trademark was later transferred to a business that reopened it in 2010 in the capital's Roppongi nightclub hot spot. Five locations now operate in Japan.
Ultralow interest rates from the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing are greasing the wheels of real estate development and restaurants.
Resorts are also feeling the love. Mineyama Kogen Resort White Peak opened this past December in Kamikawa, Hyogo Prefecture, marking Japan's first new ski facility in 14 years.
In Ashiya, also in Hyogo Prefecture, Resorttrust opened a top-of-the-line Baycourt Club Hotel & Spa Resort this February. The 31.3 billion yen ($285 million) facility offers 201 guest rooms, all of them suites. Memberships start at 8.57 million yen for 12 nights a year and at 16.17 million yen for 24 nights a year. Nearly 70% of the memberships had already been sold by late March.
The wealth effect from rising share and real estate prices is driving spending by the well-to-do. The Nikkei Stock Average marked a 26-year high in January. And the price of Japan's most expensive land along major roads -- in Tokyo's Ginza upscale shopping district -- climbed 26% on the year to a record 40.32 million yen per sq. meter in 2017.
Premium brands are also performing strongly. British automaker Rolls-Royce sold more than 200 vehicles here for a second straight year in 2017 -- a feat not achieved since 1991. At Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores, sales of items priced above 10 million yen -- including art, jewelry and watches -- jumped 60% on the year for the March-May quarter. Watch sales more than tripled. Distinctive offerings from Swiss brands Patek Philippe, Breguet and Richard Mille have sold well.