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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Amodern classicof literature in Japan, Supermarket is anovel of the human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain at a time when the phenomenon of thesupermarket, imported postwar from the US, was just taking hold in Japan.

When Kojima, an elite banker resigns his job tohelp a cousin manage Ishiei, a supermarket in one of Japan’s provincial cities, a host of
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 1984)
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220th out of 460 books — 1,861 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 535)
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I'm aware of salaryman manga (and enjoy it immensely), but I've never encountered a salaryman novel until now. In Japan, the genre is called business fiction, and without a doubt, it is the most un-American thing I've ever read. Shosetsu Supamaketto is super amazing.

I think I found this book - a translated Japanese novel - when it was mentioned in a Goodreads e-mail, so "the system" works; I never would have found it otherwise. The plot follows the story of a young-ish executive in Japan who moves from working for a bank to an executive job with a small but growing supermarket chain. What I loved about this book was:

The fact that it is a Japanese novel and not a book about Japan written by a Westerner for a largely Western audience. Not that there's a thing
Reading this book was a unique experience. The main conflict of the novel deals with the success of a supermarket chain, i.e. will it or won't it be profitable... And even though I don't care much about supermarkets and have limited interest in the day to day operations of a medium size business, I could not put this book down, primarily because you can really feel the passion of the characters, especially Kojima, the protagonist, about helping the business succeed, one small Improvement at a ti ...more
Mike Smitka
Sep 13, 2010 Mike Smitka added it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in modern japan; people interested in chain stores / business
Recommended to Mike by: no one -- I looked for this, having read other items by this author
I've ordered the translation -- I just finished reading it in Japanese, where it was initially serialized and then came out in two volumes, which might explain some of the disjointedness that a reviewer below noted. I've read two other Azuchi novels (one of which is available in English translation as Shoshaman) as well as several other "business novels." This is part of that genre, which tends to be heavy on business and light on characterization, though the character building is in the context ...more
While it's technically accurate to call this a novel, it really reads like a business manual with characters thrown in just to give a name to each employee position. That being said, it's understandable that the poorest parts of the novel are the weak attempts at developing the characters at all outside of their workplace. There's an eye-roll inducing attempt at a romantic relationship that mercifully lasts only a few pages. The main character is an absolute saint, which can be a bit obnoxious a ...more
This is a Japanese novel about a banker who takes a new position in his cousin's supermarket chain. The viewpoint is strictly Japanese and sometimes seemed strange (such as the obsession with work, loyalty, the cultural differences) and there isn't much of a personal side to the characters. However, if you can get involved in the business workings, then the novel becomes very interesting. How the employees relate to one another, who is hiding what from whom, whether the company can survive one t ...more
If you are intrigued in how a supermarket is developed and grown, this may be the book for you. The main character, Kojima, leaves his life as a successful banker to involve himself in the development of a chain of supermarkets. His different perspective and implementation of various strategies propels the market into success as he also deals with the sabotage, old ideas and corruption of those who are already involved in the Ishiei supermarkets.

This book seemed like a fabulous read for me when
Benita Applejacks
This is a very interesting read. I wasn't sure what to expect. I first started reading and where's the story again? I kept coming back for more because I wanted to desperately understand what the heck there was to come back to. The brilliance of this novel is that it's right there in front of you. We start of first with a supermarket that seems to be doing very well, employees that seem almost unrealistic in their upbeat optimism and the successful recruitment of a very productive ...more
Can't believe I didn't write a review at the time, when it was fresh. Wish I had. I loved this book! Read it.
Supermarket is a surpisingly fascinating look into the world of, what else, supermarkets. The author goes in depth into the ins-and-outs of what goes on into the business of a supermarket chain. It takes place during the early 1970′s before supermarkets really takes off in the food industry.

I never knew supermarkets could be so interesting! I was entranced by the world of fresh produce and dismayed by the embezzling ways of the employees! I was completely caught up in the schemes of the manageme
Interesting and very different. I had never realized there was a business fiction genre. Reading this novel, I was able to get a glimpse into the working of a supermarket when they were just beginning to emerge and rise in Japan. One thing that kept striking my attention was how relevant some of actions, advice, and incidents are today and across businesses. I've seen, and worked with, those people who are either really for the company they work for or really against. I've seen employees take ad ...more
Satoshi Azuchi's 1981 classic Supermarket is an engrossing representative of the Japanese “business novel” genre. Kojima leaves a safe, cushy job at a large bank for a position in his cousins’ supermarket business, Ishiei Stores, with the hopes of improving and building up a smaller company in the burgeoning supermarket industry in 1970s Japan. While this genre might seem strange to Americans, the workplace is one of the places where people spend most of their time and efforts. As such, it offer ...more
I can see why this is a modern classic of Japanese literature. I do wonder if the idealism (Japan can adapt American models of consumerism to fit Japanese society!) or the idealness of the protagonist (inspiring supermarket workers to increase efficiency and quality of service while being able to hold the big picture of business growth) are a bit exaggerated. But in a time of economic woes and soaring gas prices, maybe the optimism is what readers needed. I mean, the 70s in Japan kind of sounds ...more
Interesting to read about specific details in managing a supermarket. But don't like the gay love story
S.J. Pajonas
finished this one just before the birth of my second baby! :) i really enjoyed it even though the subject matter was so foreign to me. i know NOTHING of running a supermarket but now i have a pretty good idea of what it was like to start the supermarket revolution in japan in the late 60s. it helped that the plot was moved forward by interesting characters. i was just as into the supermarket details as i was in their lives. maybe i loved it even more than most because i'm a total japanophile but ...more
This book was not at all what I expected, and in the best possible way. When you decide to read a book about supermarket managers/directors, you don't necessarily expect a lot. And yet---this was a really good read. There's some great insight into human character, and I couldn't help but root for and love the characters involved. Very much worth the time.

It's also worth noting that the translation is very, very fluid; this isn't a stiff, unnatural translation out of the Japanese. The prose is ju
I picked this up because I used to work in a supermarket and still think of it fondly. If you don't have any interest in how a supermarket works (which I think is most people) this is perhaps not the book for you. Apparently it was a bestseller in Japan and I was expecting it to have more of literary heft. But as I was reading it, I realized I was flying through it and it was kind of like a Japanese version of John Grisham, about supermarkets instead of the law. Hmm.
I xan see why this was an important work in 80s Japan--it says a lot about the business culture of the 60s and 70s-- kind of the Mad Men of it's time. But the writing "tells" rather than "shows," which wears thin after a few chapters. Worth reading, or worth dipping into for as long as you can tolerate, simply because it is a window into Japanese culture beyond the anime. But don't expect a barrel of laughs or gripping excitement or winsome fantasy.
Miki Habryn
This is an interesting read, particularly if taken as cultural gospel. The story is generally enjoyable (although the mid-book resolution is frustratingly uncomplicated), and the data whore inside me loved the discussion of supermarket mechanics, but the characterization was somewhat shallow (perhaps that's typical for the genre?), and, as far as actual plot quality goes, it was a little limp.
This novel was written in 1985, set in 1969 Japan and recently translated into English. There is definitely a reflection of a simpler time and a rather endearing naivite, but overall it reads like a TV sitcom/drama set in a supermarket. I enjoyed the Japanese culture, the look at post war retail business in Japan. Apparently it remains a favorite popular novel in Japan.
Who would have though I'd be one to read something from the genre of "business novel"? Who would have thought there even was such a genre? Apparently there is and this is a delightful example of it (whether representative or not, I couldn't say). Azuchi has give us a delightful romp through the fledgling supermarket industry in Japan in the late 60's/early 70's.
Jan 02, 2010 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
I enjoyed this book, but I don't think it will become one of my favorites. I'd recommend it, yet even a few days after finishing it the character don't stick in my mind. It was fun reading about Japan again! (I'm not going to do a plot summary, just read the GoodReads newsletter if you want to know more about it.)
This turned out to be a really absorbing read. I couldn't put it down. And, can someone make this into a film please? I can visualize all the early 70s fashion, the technicolor produce, the drama of businessmen crying...oh my god. It would be SO GOOD. Supermarket! "Let's do it!"
Just okay. It is a Japanese novel and translated into English I think it loses a sense of depth and nuance - it reads more like a report of what occured rather than a story. Something is "Lost In Translation", as it were. The title is not misleading, it is indeed about Supermarkets.
This novel eludes summary. It is technically a mystery about nefarious goings on in a small Japanese supermarket chain. But really it is about loyalty, status, family, the meaning of work, and the impact of the endless march of modernization on all these things.
A novel about internal management conflicts at a Japanese supermarket in the 1960's. It's much, much better than that sounds. High drama and emotion, lots of well-crafted intrigue and tension. A fine accomplishment and inspiring to read.
A random pick at the library that turned out to be an enjoyable read. Another reviewer called it business fiction, and I would agree. A good mix of business and fiction!
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Nov 19, 2009 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as maybe-read-sometime
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: Goodreads newsletter
Shelves: genre-deficient
It seems like (almost) every time I try to read a Japanese novel, something has been lost in translation. Maybe I'll give this one a try again sometime, but not now.
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It was ok. It fared pretty well for a book about intrigue and the business of a supermarket. The ra-ra cheering and mopey anguish at end is a little tedious.
Jason Keenan
This novel looks behind the scenes at a grocery store in Japan - and really it's a look behind the curtain of businesses and home life in Japan.
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