Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Post

Time for the (incredibly repressive) Olympics again, this time with an unusually suggestive logo. Events go live from early evening and on into dawn here in Japan, with commentary and highlights during the day. Starting tomorrow I will effectively be single for two weeks as my wife sits glued to the television. Time for some quiet reading and to catch up on my Japanese studies.

Ritsuko had some banking errands at the post office1 recently; the clerk made a mistake, however, and had to ask her back to the office. By way of apology they gave her these Olympic-themed piggybanks — piggybanks, plural, in a gift box. I think they are normally promotional gifts to new customers.


A set of three Olympic-themed gilded porcelain piggybanks. The shape is the old Japanese post box still used in some parts of the country. The Olympic connection is, in case you missed it, the medal colours of Gold, Silver and Bronze. Neat idea I guess, and they were fun, if tricky, to photograph.

But I'm not sure about the wisdom of passing these out widely; they're not exactly discreet, and many people have little need for any piggybank in the first place. We certainly don't, but it feels like a waste to just throw them away. I'll use them to collect 1, 5 and 10-yen coins for a while, just to see how fast they'll accumulate.

#1 Japan Post is one of the largest savings banks in the world; many — perhaps most — Japanese keep part of their savings there. Competitors used to complain that a part of a state ministry had such a large presence in the banking market, so the post office bank was spun off as a commercial subsidiary in 2008 or so. They're still just as big, of course, and as a private company they're now free to compete without the restrictions on marketing and services they had when part of the government. Be careful what you wish for is the message, I guess.

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