IKEA, the Swedish furniture store, has a branch in Funabashi in Chiba.
It can be reached by going down route 6 as far as Toride then turning south down route 8 towards Funabashi. Once in Funabashi, one has to go over and under a succession of bridges, basically going straight on, until one reaches the Ikea signs.
Car parking insanity
On the day I visited, the car parking was being very badly managed, with severe traffic delays for people arriving by car. I went there on a Saturday and experienced a delay of one hour caused by baton-waving security guards who were basically refusing to allow people to move around the enormous car parking area, and forcing a long line of cars to wait on the ramps, even though the car park was half-empty. The baton-twirlers were, for some reason, actually stopping people from using anything other than the level one of the car park, which was only about half-full, and they were stopping cars from freely entering even the bottom level. Thus, although I could see that the roof level of the multistorey car park was almost totally empty, there was an almost static line of traffic extending around the site for several kilometres. Sheer insanity! There is something seriously wrong with the Ikea organization to allow this to happen.
For some reason, presumably the same insane reason they were stopping cars from entering the car park, Ikea was also not allowing customers on foot to enter the store freely, so there was a huge queue of people waiting outside, basically waiting for nothing. However, it was easily possible to enter via another door.
Inside the store, there are only a very few toilets, which are all unisex and disabled toilets, and so there were ten minute long queues for the toilets.
The food at Ikea was revolting - meatballs in some kind of very sweet caramel sauce with a side order of jam, plus three boiled potatoes. Absolutely foul.
Ikea uses a system of registers which is common in Europe but completely different from the Japanese one, leading to long lines of baffled Japanese customers.
Anyone familiar with an Ikea in Europe will instantly feel at home in Funabashi's Ikea store. The layout of the store is identical to European Ikeas, with a showroom on the upper level and a shop at the bottom, with a kind of fixed pathway through.
Another one bites the dust?
Ikea looks almost certain to join Boots and Carrefour as yet another company which failed horribly on trying to enter the Japanese market. Those in search of cheap Swedish furniture had better get down to Funabashi quickly before Ikea bites the dust.
Ben 01:38, 30 April 2006 (UTC)