If you were opening up a shop in North America, you would probably check to make sure that there wasn’t too much competition nearby. It always seemed like common sense to me when I was living in Canada, but since I’ve been living in Japan, I’ve come to question the assumption.
There are a large number of districts in Tokyo where similar businesses are all grouped together. Ochanomizu has a couple dozen music shops, Kanda has a street of used book stores, Asakusabashi has bead shops, Akihabara has electronics, and on and on. It seems that the shops have a synergy, attracting more customers because people know that they can get a good price and selection if they go to the area, increasing patronage to all the shops.
One of the oddest shopping districts I’ve come across is Bonsai Mura in Saitama City. There are about 10 nurseries here, and people come from all over Japan to visit them. Apparently a number of Tokyo bonsai masters decided to move out there after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and set up their own little community with strict rules and regulations about buildings, fences, and behavior, one of which is that they have to open their gardens to the public.
It’s quite fascinating to wander around, and the staff seems to enjoy talking about the trees. By the way, photography is not permitted, and I was lucky that the old lady who worked there offered to turn her back while I took my picture.
There’s quite a good website with history of the area and information about visiting at:

The official site ( is almost all in Japanese, except for this profile of the gardeners: