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Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district is becoming the new platform for satellite shops opened by various prefectures to introduce their local specialties and offer tourism information.

Gunma and Tottori opened such shops last summer, and Yamagata will relocate its Tokyo outlet to Ginza this spring.

A growing number of shoppers are flocking to such stores, boosting sales and drawing new local specialty shops to the district in Chuo Ward.

On Nov. 21, when seasonal marine products from the Sea of Japan were put on sale at the Tottori outlet, middle-aged and elderly housewives rushed to snap them up.

“There are many customers with ‘matsuba’ crabs on their minds, and they are sometimes sold out in one day,” shop manager Hirotaka Toba said, referring to brisk sales of the famous but expensive winter delicacy.

Tottori last August opened a shop that is publicly run but privately managed in the Shinbashi district of Minato Ward. There was a good turnout in September, when 8,400 people visited its sales corner, and the month’s sales amounted to about ¥10 million, surpassing the initial target of ¥8 million.

But even if the sales target is achieved, the monthly rent — about ¥3.5 million — is a big headache, and some ¥20 million a year is required from the prefecture’s general account to cover the deficit.

An official in charge said the red ink could be wiped out if local products that become popular at the shop are instead sold at department stores and supermarkets.

According to the Japan Center for Regional Development, satellite shops in Ginza became widely known in 1994 after Okinawa opened an outlet. In 1995, Kagoshima opened a shop near Ginza in Yurakucho, and Hokkaido and Iwate followed suit.

There are now about 15 prefectural satellite stores in the Ginza, Yurakucho and Shinbashi districts.

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