This “unsinkable convenience store” has become a source of inspiration for exam-takers all over and business couldn’t be better as a result.
■ Open rain or shine… giant holes are another story
As we all saw on the international news coverage that ensued, on 8 November a 10-by-15-meter (33-by-49-foot) hole opened up at an intersection in front of Hakata Station in Fukuoka City. Miraculously no one was injured in the incident and perhaps even more miraculously it was all patched up in a matter of days.
However, I believe is was John Maynard Keynes who once postulated that a giant crater appearing in front of one’s business has a negative affect on revenue. Take for example, that lonely looking 7-Eleven which could be easily distinguished by its trademark colors hanging on the edge of the sinkhole. In the many images spread over the media it looked like some mystical temple on the edge of a cliff.
ステイメン@打倒！凶人安倍！ (@deskain) December 19, 2016
訳あって福岡の博多にきています。 つい最近陥没した所に立ち寄りました。 もう道路も整備されて車が走ってました。陥没事故への早急な対応、被害者0人、復旧の早さ。誇れる事故だと思う。 https://t.co/HCTfVm4WH5—
daiki⚡️15幕神 神戸 (@daiki66942391) November 29, 2016
Although it survived the collapse, they were forced to shut down until 20 December and lost nearly two months’ worth of income. Normally, it would take a miracle to recover that kind of loss, but luckily for them that miracle already happened.
■ The magical protection of Kit Kats
Meanwhile, students in Japan regularly find themselves under extreme pressure to pass exams. Of course, there are the university entrance examinations on which their entire future hinges, but even the regular flurry of mid-term and final exams can be a grueling ordeal.
Because of the high stakes, students can get really superstitious when it comes to these tests. Some families go as far as banning words such as suberu (“slip”) or ochiru (“fall”) from daily conversation. Other students go in search of any charm that would protect them from bad luck on those most serious of days.
One popular good-luck charm in Japan are Kit Kat bars, mainly because the name is nearly homonymous with kitto katsu (“surely win”), but the fact that they are delicious doesn’t hurt either. There are many other items as well, such as Umakacchan (uma-katsu-chan) instant ramen for similar phonetic reasons.
■ Alcohol, tobacco, ATM, and good mojo available inside
With all of the media coverage, students from all around stared at that little convenience store defiantly standing tall while the very earth beneath it crumbled. Even as disaster struck right outside its doorstep, this combini did neither of the two words students are forbidden to say.
▼ Gambatte, Sebun Irebun Sama!
北九州弁bot (@kitakyushubot_) November 07, 2016
This place appeared blessed by the gods of perseverance. And even if students didn’t really believe it, how could it hurt to buy a piece of that sacred spot? So they went, in droves apparently, to buy Kit Kats in the hopes it would offer protection during their time of need.
▼ Sign: “Due to many customer requests, we have an assortment available.”
In a thick slice of irony, the belief that this 7-Eleven was unsinkable may have been what kept it from actually going under due to loss of business. It just goes to show that in life you don’t always have to win, be the first in line, or even pass the exam to a top school. Sometimes, just hanging in there is enough.
[ Read in Japanese ]