⟨ Misc ⟩

1 yen online shop by Kohkoku magazine

The value of things

Text / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

一日元,可以買到甚麼呢?一雙用完即棄的筷子、一口飯、三根牙籤、一小匙的伊豆天然水、24個詞語的解釋,又或是,最新一期的《広告》雜誌,若是金錢來衡量其價值,全都只值一日元而已。

創辦於1948年的《広告》雜誌,早前進行改版,改版後的第一期,已於7月24日推出,定價為一日元。低廉的定價其實別有用心。這期雜誌的專題為「價值」,正是探討物件的價值與定價的關係。希望讀者以日本最低價的貨幣來換取一本680頁的雜誌時,能思考在這個物質與資訊都過於豐盛的時代裡,所謂「有價值」的東西是甚麼,而有價值的東西,又是怎樣才能誕生。

與雜誌的主題相呼應,出版社策劃了「一円網上商店」,當中售價的,正是文首提及的物品。網上商店裡,描述了這些物品的有趣故事。例如用完即棄筷子始於江戶時代,當時這些筷子原來會被回收再造,而且價錢最後會提升不少。全新的筷子賣給高級的料理亭,回收後清洗、削過,再賣給蕎麥麵店,最後再回收,塗上漆,化身為能長久使用的筷子,售賣給平民食堂。籍這些小故事,《広告》雜誌告訴我們,物件的價值,隨著意念而不斷變化。

What can you buy with 1 Japanese yen? A pair of disposable chopsticks, a spoon of rice, 3 toothpicks, one teaspoon of Izu natural water, the dictionary explanation of 24 words, or the latest issue of Kohkoku magazine? Everything we mentioned costs only 1 Japanese yen.

The debut issue of Kohkoku magazine was published back in 1948. The magazine has recently undergone a revamp and launched their first rebranded issue on 24 July, selling at the price of 1 Japanese yen. What is the relationship between the actual value of things and their retail price? This is the question Kohkoku magazine wants to explore in their latest issue. When the readers buy the 680-page magazine using the smallest denomination of the Japanese yen currency, how would they interpret the value of it? Many of us live an abundant life, we own more than we need, our days are filled with information that we can barely finish reading. Through this issue, the magazine wants to discuss with the readers what makes something valuable.

As part of the initiative, the publisher also launched a “1 yen online shop” that sells the 1 yen objects that named earlier in the article. The online shop also shares fascinating stories related to these objects. For instance, back in the Edo period, each pair of disposable chopsticks was used for more than once. The brand new chopsticks were sold to high-end restaurants. The used chopsticks would then be cleaned and shaved to be resold to soba noodle restaurants. Afterward, the sellers would apply lacquer on these chopsticks that have been used twice and resell them to fast-food joints as reusable chopsticks. Reading these stories, we begin to learn the value of an object is never constant — it changes all the time according to people’s perception.