Let’s talk about honesty.
I’ve been lucky to experience living in two places where honestly still exists – Japan and Dubai. I dropped my wallet one snowy night on my way home on a bicycle so many winters ago in Japan and received a call from a local policeman telling me he has my wallet in his hands. This was before I knew I even lost my wallet!
In Dubai, I leave my office drawer open (nothing to steal but my precious Lindt chocolate bar or two) and nothing had been missing so far. ATM cards left at the machine? We’re lucky no one has taken advantage of our forgetfulness (yet).
In Japan, honesty is being taken to another level with this.
This is just one of the “unmanned stores” you can find in Japan, more in the suburbs and little towns, but apparently, there are many in Tokyo. Yes, you read it right, UNMANNED. This is a small store selling stuff without anyone to manage it.
How does it work?
Usually in the summer season, people grow vegetables in their own garden and it becomes too much for them to consume (most households are small). So they sell their harvest to others. Local people would buy vegetables on the way back from a morning walk, so it would all be all gone by noon. If you want to get the best veggies, the early bird gets the worm.
We chanced upon this unmanned store near where we lived at 2 pm and it was almost all gone. The things on sale were seasonal vegetables. These are potatoes inside a paper bag, with a remark saying “good for curry or stew”.
Organic spring onion.
This is the price of the vegetables – one plate is 100 yen (US$1). One hundred yen comes in one coin so it’s easy for the buyer since most people carry these loose coins in their wallets.
Plastic bags according to size for your veggies.
So this is unmanned – there’s no one to hand over the payment. How will you pay?
There’s this simple can where you’ll put your coins, marked with “thank you”. I took a peek at the can and saw a few coins inside. Business solely based on the honor system – amazing, isn’t it?
Some of you might be wondering how you go about selling vegetables on the street. Well, in Japan you don’t need a special permit to operate a business on your own property. You just need a basic hut in order to provide shelter against the sun, the price tags and a coin box. That’s it.