Okayama: Tourists Descend on Candy Megastore

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People shop at Japan’s No. 1 Dagashi Market in Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture, in October.

SETOUCHI, Okayama — Throngs of young visitors visit a snack store that is known as Japan’s No. 1 Dagashi Market in an area of Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture, that is characterized by rice fields.

The store, operated by the food wholesale company Ohmachi, sells confectionary and snacks from all over the country. Over 1 million visitors are expected to visit this year.

The company started retailing leftover stock in 2011, and the store became popular through word of mouth. The sales floor continued to grow, and when “Japan’s No. 1” was added to the store name in 2015, it became a topic of conversation on the internet, which saw a further increase in customers.

A huge range of available goods is key to the store’s popularity, with about 5,000 products including stationery and toys covering an area of 2,500 square meters. All varieties of the company’s Umaibo stick-shaped corn puffs are stocked. Even Mazuibo (“bad-tasting stick”), a parody product made by a different manufacturer, is on the shelf.

“When children ask us if we have a certain candy, we don’t want to say we don’t,” said Ohmachi President Hidetoshi Akiyama.

Still, store staff cannot let their guard down as some items sell quickly to customers who pour in from tour buses on national holidays.

The store is located on the premises of Ohmachi’s headquarters, open every day except for the year-end and New Year holidays.