[From January Issue 2015]
Horse race tracks, pachinko parlors, motorboat race tracks… all of these are places where the majority of visitors are male. Recently, these kinds of facilities are devising various schemes to increase female custom. For example, Boat Race Edogawa holds art tours to show off the facility’s art collection.
During the tour, a guide accompanies customers around the Art Museum located in the facility. The combination of a motorboat race venue and art is surprising and SUZUKI Kenji, who is in charge of this Art Museum, talks about how the art collection increased: “About seven or eight years ago, we began decorating the dreary reserved seating area with object d’art.”
The tour of the works scattered around the hall began in 2010. In 2012, when the collection increased and it became difficult to travel round the hall on foot, an Art Museum was established to bring the artworks together in one place. Currently, the museum houses many works, including pieces by Muttoni – known for his mechanical dolls – and FUKAHORI Riusuke – who creates three-dimensional goldfish with acrylic resin. The museum is highly regarded for its large collection of valuable modern art.
The tour costs 1,500 yen including lunch. It’s also possible to watch races from reserved seats, which usually cost 2,000 yen. The tour does not make a profit, but Suzuki says, “A boat racetrack is a difficult place for a casual visitor to drop in on. We hope that this tour will provide a different way in for those visiting our boat racetrack.”
The impression that this is a male dominated place with a rough atmosphere has been successfully changed, with some tour participants remarking, “Is this really a boat race track?” The art tour only takes place on boat race days and is by reservation only. Numbers are limited to ten people per day. Since the artwork can only be seen by participating in the tour, bookings are always made on holidays.
Considered to be mostly full of male customers, pachinko parlors also hope to attract more female visitors, particularly housewives. This is because the regular pachinko crowd is on the decline. Eyecandy Co., Ltd. specializes in designing pachinko parlor restrooms and gift exchange counters for women. All the employees are women, which is unusual in the male dominated pachinko industry.
Originally the company created pachinko hall advertisements, but came to deal in interior decor at the request of the parlors. The parlors particularly want housewives in their 50’s and 60’s to visit. However, the interior decoration, being rather gaudy, does not create a tranquil atmosphere. “Because we want to create a space for women to shine, we intentionally avoided age-appropriate designs,” says the CEO, FUKUMORI Kanae.
Devices that appeal to the customers’ inner girl have been installed; for instance “actress mirrors” in the powder room create a flattering reflection. The designs suggested by Eyecandy Co., Ltd. were sometimes ridiculed by other competitors when the company was bidding for an interior design contract. However, its bid was successful and after the refit was complete, it was popular with female customers. Other halls have altered their interior decor to be more appealing to women after seeing this response.
Text: ICHIMURA Masayo