The theme for the November issue is "Shopping in Tsukuba", though, of course, other topics will be aired as well. Newcomers to Tsukuba often comment on the large number of stores in Tsukuba, but "old-timers" can remember the day not so long ago when the lack of shopping was one of the big drawbacks of the newly founded Science City. As little as a dozen years ago, there were no large stores and few stores of any kind. For several years in the "old days" (prior to Expo '85), the only "shopping center" was the Takezono Shopping Center, with its small grocery store and a few shops. Next to come in was the Kasumi Store in Takezono in the early 1980's, but it was only with the rush of development just prior to Expo'85 that stores such as Daiei and the Creo complex of Jusco and Seibu came into being. Prior to that, the nearest department stores were the Seiyu and Itoyokado stores near Tsuchiura Station. In fact, on Saturdays and Sundays, the common scenario of cars lined up in downtown Tsukuba trying to get into the stores was reversed, with Tsukubaites flocking in their cars over to Tsuchiura to try to find a spot in their miniscule parking lots.
Times have certainly changed, as Tsukuba has become a mecca for shoppers in the southern Ibaraki area. It seems that a new store is opening practically every month, with the new "ASSE" store in Yatabe being the newest addition. Tsukuba even has its own "mini Akihabara" (the famous "electric town" in Tokyo), with several electronics stores competing with each other to keep prices "low" (a relative term in Japan). Already, the lines of cars waiting to turn into Ishimaru or Kojima Denki along with the traffic jams around Daiei and Seibu -- especially on weekends -- makes the wide, unclogged streets Tsukuba used to be famous for a thing of the past. Ah, "the price of progress."
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