Things you won’t believe Chinese tourists are buying in Japan: drugstore edition

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RocketNews 24:

Often when you visit another country, one thing on everyone’s to-do list is a little shopping. It’s always interesting to see what products a foreign country offers that you can’t find back home. It’s also weird and fun to see the products you are familiar with presented in a different way.

One of the main reasons Chinese tourists visit Japan is to shop. It’s not uncommon to see a Chinese visitor enter a store and drop the equivalent of hundreds of U.S. dollars – usually in cash – on seemingly everyday products like clothes or electronics, but in some cases store shelves are picked completely clean.

But what’s on these tourists’ shopping lists? Here are 11 “godly” pharmacy products that Chinese visitors simply have to buy when they visit Japan.

When thinking about your next vacation, you normally wouldn’t consider over the counter medicinal goods to be the purpose of your trip. That’s exactly the reason for many Chinese tourists, though, who come to Japan and line up in front of drugstores before they even open. These shoppers will buy a bunch of items in bulk and leave having spent on average 20-30,000 yen (US$160-240), with some big-time shoppers spending close to 50,000 yen at one drug store.

Can’t think of $200 worth of things to buy at a drugstore? Well, maybe you will after reading this list.

1. Eye drops

2. Anti-inflammatory medicine

3. Liquid bandages

4. Cooling patches

5. Headache medicine

6. Keratin softener

7. Cysteine medicine

8. Constipation medicine

9. Canker sore medicine

10. Feminine hygiene products

11. Throat lozenges/cough drops

It may seem strange for eye drops to be at the top of the list, but it’s not uncommon for Chinese people to carry them in their purse, back pocket or pencil case. When Chinese shoppers are asked why they buy these in Japan, they reportedly answer, “Chinese products don’t work at all, whereas Japanese items, especially painkillers, are really effective.”

We suppose it makes sense to stock up after all!

Another popular commodity is adhesive bandages/plasters, especially amongst women. They claim that Japanese plasters don’t come off when you are cooking or getting your hands wet, making them much more convenient. Adhesive bandages are also cheap and light, so they make for a good souvenir and can be bought in bulk.

▼ Or they want these super cute Band-Aids!

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Chinese shoppers’ comments that Japanese medicine is more effective might seem odd to expatriates living in Japan, since dosages for painkillers and other medicine are usually quite a bit lower than versions you can find in western countries. However, since China is much closer to Japan than the U.S., Chinese travelers looking to buy some non-prescription drugs will continue to flock to Japan, and around 10 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Japan this year alone.

If you happen to be suffering from dry eyes while in Japan and pop into a store to find them all sold out of eye drops, now you know why. You may find yourself lining up before the stores open just to get some!

Chinese company treats 6,400 employees to French vacation

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CNN:

More than 6,000 employees of Tiens Group — a Chinese conglomerate — were given the VIP treatment on an all expenses paid trip to France to celebrate the company’s 20th birthday.

The tour group — the largest to visit the country — was given a private tour of the Louvre museum and a private shopping session at luxury department store Galeries Lafayette during their four-day trip, reported French news agency Agence France-Presse.

After two days in Paris, the group headed down to the southern resort town of Nice on Friday, where they also broke a Guinness World Record for forming the largest human sentence.

All staff members lined up on the waterfront, Promenade des Anglais, to spell out the phrase “Tiens’ dream is nice in the Côte d’Azur” that was visible from above.

The Chinese company broke a Guinness World Record for building the largest human sentence in Nice, France.

 

According to local media, the company booked 4,760 rooms in 79 hotels between Cannes and Monaco, and 146 tour buses.

We have mobilized public services as well as tourism professionals, hotels, restaurants, shops and designer brands,” Christian Mantel, head of the French tourism development agency told AFP.

It’s estimated that the group will spend $15 million during their visit added Mantel, and France is seen to reap up to $20 million in total economic benefits.

Chinese tourists, who are known to be the world’s biggest holiday spenders, are said to spend an average of $7,200 when they go overseas.

It’s not the first time a Chinese company has arranged for massive tours overseas. Last year, a group of 7,000 made a trip to the U.S. to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sino-U.S. diplomatic ties.

Tiens Group operates in a diverse range of business interests, including biotechnology, tourism and trade.

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Spooky unfinished theme park in Wuhan re-discovered by tourists

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Shanghaiist (by Liam Bourke):

In a country where tacky copy-cat monuments are commonplace and grandiose architectural ambitions regularly turn to dust, it should come as no surprise to see the two collide in photos taken by tourists at an abandoned amusement park in Wuhan, Hubei province.

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Construction on the “Universal Park” began in 1996 and ceased in 1999 due to a lack of funds and an unforeseen transportation dilemma.

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Some 16 years after it was deserted, tourists have returned to the eerily overgrown theme park to take wedding photos and enjoy camping and picnicking against the sightly incongruous backdrop of mock Egyptian pyramids and hieroglyphic-inscripted temples.

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A tourist poses for a selfie with what looks like a post-apocalyptic Hogwarts castle.

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The rise of creepy ghost-towns across China has accompanied China’s economic boom, as its often over-zealous urban expansionism has allowed for lavishly immoderate designs which were found to be totally superfluous in reality. If you need proof, check out China’s largest shopping mall which remained 99 percent empty seven years after it opened.

Hopefully, however, this aborted wonder can still be a Mecca for tourists (or hermits) and avoids the fate of the attempted “Wonderland Amusement Park” in Beijing, which was demolished 15 years after construction began in 2013.

 

Chinese wealth transforms South Korea’s Jeju Island

Wall Street Journal/NY Times:

When Kim Ho-san opened an apparel store on South Korea’s southernmost resort island of Jeju in 2012, she was well-positioned to benefit from a rising flow of Chinese tourists.

Six months later, the 36-year-old was asked by her landlord to leave. As visitors from China drove up sales, the property owner told her he wanted to run his own shop on the site to cash in, she says.

Since then, the number of Chinese visitors to Jeju has soared, bringing wealth and jobs but also generating tension among locals, as well as some resentment toward the tourists. Locals say scuffles occasionally break out between Koreans and Chinese visitors in shops and bars.

A surge in property investment from China is also reshaping the local economy and juicing land prices. Condominiums, hotels and casinos are springing up around the island—a development welcomed by local officials eager to boost the sleepy island economy but opposed by some residents and businesses. One Korean-run hotel has erected a banner to deny rumors that it had been bought by Chinese after it was boycotted by some locals.

A map from Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, based on data from the Jeju government, shows land owned by Chinese developers or individuals in Jeju.
A map from Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, based on data from the Jeju government, shows land owned by Chinese developers or individuals in Jeju.

Land owned by Chinese individuals and developers on Jeju, known for its white beaches, volcanic landscape and clean air, more than doubled last year. One catalyst is South Korea’s offer of permanent-resident status for big foreign investors on Jeju, allowing them the same medical, education and employment benefits as South Koreans.

Kim Tae-il, a professor at Jeju National University, likens it to a real-estate frenzy in Hawaii in the late 1970s among Japanese investors who bought skyscrapers, condos and other property as the yen surged against the dollar.

The Chinese have come to town and have started buying without worrying about price—just like the Japanese did in Hawaii,” he said.

Reflecting rising incomes and eased travel restrictions, the Chinese were the world’s largest group of outbound travelers last year, taking more than 100 million trips outside the mainland. Research firm CLSA expects that figure to double by 2020, an attractive potential economic boost for countries that can lure in Chinese travelers.

South Korea has been particularly welcoming for Chinese visitors to Jeju, exempting them from visas needed to visit other parts of the country. The popularity of South Korean pop music and TV dramas in China and a gradual appreciation of the Chinese currency has also helped draw visitors. So has geography: Jeju is a one-hour flight from Shanghai and 2½ hours from Beijing. “The major reason for most people to travel to Jeju is that it’s visa-free. And the price for group travel is so cheap,” said Willa Wu, a Hangzhou, China, businesswoman who has traveled to Jeju several times.

The number of Chinese visitors to Jeju jumped 58% to 2.9 million people last year, almost a half of a record 6.1 million Chinese tourists to South Korea in 2014. In another move to jump start the local economy, authorities eased investment rules in February 2010, giving permanent residency to foreigners who purchase property worth at least 500 million won ($450,450) in designated districts and who keep them for five years.

Until tourism transformed Jeju, it was a sleepy island dedicated mainly to farming and fishing. So many men left the island for better jobs that the predominance of women was one of the three things the island was most known for. The other two were wind and volcanic rocks.

As South Korea’s economy exploded, the island became a favorite destination not only of South Korean honeymooners, but also for school trips. (Most of the 304 people killed in a ferry accident last April were students headed to Jeju.)

For a time in the last several years, Jeju was especially welcoming to the Chinese, whom officials thought could help vault the island from a regional destination to an international one.

Although South Koreans have long ensured that Chinatowns did not form in their cities, Jeju became the first province to give one of its busiest shopping districts a Chinese name. Baojian Street was named after a Chinese health care product company that brought 11,000 employees to Jeju on incentive tours in 2011.

Lisa Xue, 60, a Chinese tourist on a recent visit, said she and others were attracted to the island by its proximity — just a two-hour flight from Beijing — while wealthy Chinese saw it as a good place to buy property.

But in the last year or so, local news media and critics began accusing Chinese real estate investors of “encroaching upon” Korean land. They also complained that most of the Chinese tourists were brought to Jeju by Chinese tourist agencies and not only violated some social mores, but often stayed, ate and shopped in Chinese-controlled hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.

In a survey of 1,000 islanders last year, 68 percent said the growing number of Chinese tourists did not help Jeju’s development.

Temple in Thailand plans separate toilets due to lack of bathroom etiquette by Chinese tourists

Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, is one of Chiang Rai’s most famous tourist attractions

Bangkok Post: 

One of northern Thailand‘s most famous temples plans to build separate toilets for Thais and other non-Chinese tourists, officials confirmed on Saturday.

Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai will add the new toilets as a solution to complaints about the lack of bathroom etiquette by Chinese tourists, temple officials told DPA.

Previously, the temple had banned Chinese tourists altogether after Chinese tour groups had left the toilets in a state of disrepair.

They had defecated on the floor, urinated on the walls outside and left sanitary pads on the wall of the bathrooms,” said an official who requested anonymity.

The temple’s designer, Chalermchai Kositpipat, said in a television interview that it was “impossible” for other tourists to use the bathrooms after the Chinese tours, so he would build new ones.

Reports of misbehaviour by Chinese tourists have become an increasing source of concern as their numbers swell. Last year, 4.62 million Chinese visited Thailand, accounting for 18.7% of all international arrivals, more than any other nationality.

In another recent incident, a tourist identified as a Chinese national kicked a bell at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. A video posted anonymously online drew widespread condemnation.

In the short film, the man first posed for a photo with a row of bells before kicking one of them while laughing as he left the sacred grounds. Reports of tourists in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai relieving themselves in public have prompted further complaints.

In response, officials have come up with an etiquette manual in Chinese on how tourists should behave in Thailand.

China media pooh-poohs Japanese luxury toilet seats

Japan Times: 

Japan’s luxury lavatories have become the latest flash point with China, after Beijing’s state-run media launched a thunderous tirade against built-in washers and pre-warmed seats on Thursday.

The Global Times, which is affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, devoted the editorial in both its English and Chinese editions to the subject, under the headline: “Popularity of Japanese toilet seats overstated.”

Buying Japanese toilets “makes a mockery of China’s boycott of Japanese goods,” it said.

That Chinese tourists swamp Japanese stores at a time when the country is facing a sluggish domestic demand is certainly not something to be proud of,” it said.

The two countries are at loggerheads over the East China Sea islets which Tokyo controls and calls Senkakus and Beijing claims as Diaoyu. Both sides have repeatedly sent ships and aircraft to the area.

But despite their political differences Asia’s two biggest economies have close business ties, and roughly half a million Chinese tourists descended on Japan over this month’s Lunar New Year holiday, spending an estimated $882 million, according to Nomura Securities.

It was unclear why the Global Times focused its ire on the smallest room, but it may have been triggered by a Beijing Youth Daily article which said the seats were second only to rice cookers in popularity among Chinese tourists visiting Japan.

The high-tech bathroom accessories, often equipped with multiple water jets, hot air dryers and automatic lid raisers, are common throughout Japan and are often seen as a status symbol among the Chinese nouveau riche.

The Global Times acknowledged that the toilets’ popularity “is not accidental as they explicitly show the human touch, intelligent design and sophistication of Japanese goods.”

But it added: “World-class toilet seats are not what Chinese manufacturers aspire to make.”

Chinese tourists flock to Japan for the sushi, the shopping and the fresh air…despite tensions

 

Millions go to sample their neighbour’s blue skies and clean air\
The Independent:

Chinese tourists come to Japan for the sushi and for the shopping. But, increasingly, they’re also coming for one thing that money can’t buy: fresh air.

The blue sky and the clean air are great. They’re something we don’t have at home,” said Xu Jun, an agent for a steel trading company from Guangzhou, a huge manufacturing city in southern China that is blighted by pollution. Mr Xu was visiting the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido this month.

Over the previous two weeks, the Xu family had been to outdoor hot springs, taken an ice-breaker ship along the frozen coast and spotted some of the island’s famous wild red-crowned cranes.

They, like several million other Chinese, are beating a path to the Land of the Rising Sun.

The number of tourists coming to Japan from China went up 83 per cent in 2014, compared with the year before that. That put China in third place, behind only Taiwan and South Korea, as a source of visitors.

This is despite the political tensions between the two countries over disputed territories, and an official Japanese attempt to play down its wartime aggression against neighbouring countries, including China.

Tokyo is perennially popular, with its glitzy shopping districts and Disneyland resort, but in winter, about half the Chinese tourists visiting Japan go to Hokkaido, a sparsely populated island renowned for its wide-open spaces and top-notch seafood. Visitor numbers have skyrocketed since the 2008 release of the Chinese movie If You Are the One, which showcased Hokkaido’s natural beauty.

The first thing Chinese people do after they land is to breathe deeply,” said He Wenfan, of the Japan Tourism Board’s Chinese-language website. “People say, ‘I can finally breathe!’ ”