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Supermarket

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3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  217 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
A modern classic of literature in Japan, Supermarket is a novel of the human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain at a time when the phenomenon of the supermarket, imported postwar from the US, was just taking hold in Japan. 
 
When Kojima, an elite banker resigns his job to help a cousin manage Ishiei, a supermarket in one of Japan’s provincial cities, a
...more
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Eric
Feb 18, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2009
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.

Margaret
Nov 27, 2009 Margaret rated it liked it
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
...more
Tenma
Feb 26, 2016 Tenma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
I put off reading this book for a while because several reviews described it as a bleak manual on how to run a supermarket. I am glad I did not abandon it altogether. This turned out to be an incredible thriller as much as it is a business novel. It is a story of a banker who was hired to take on a leadership position at a company that runs a supermarket chain. Soon after he joins the company he discovers severe misconduct and embezzlement that threatens the survival of the company. As he tries ...more
Mike Smitka
Jul 12, 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
Darya
Dec 28, 2014 Darya rated it really liked it
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
Alexander
Oct 29, 2009 Alexander rated it it was ok
While it's technically accurate to call this a novel, it reads like a business manual with characters thrown in just to give a name to each employee position. With that said, it's understandable that the poorest parts of the novel are the weak attempts at developing characters outside of the workplace, for example a clumsy attempt a romantic relationship that mercifully lasts only a few pages. The main character is an absolute saint, which can be a bit obnoxious also.

What makes Supermarket worth
...more
Kalyn
Dec 08, 2009 Kalyn rated it liked it
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
Erin
Apr 18, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
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
...more
Ana Silva Rosa
Jan 08, 2016 Ana Silva Rosa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
It took me so long to finish this book because I kept losing my focus. There's too many characters, and it was hard for me to keep track of them all. I didn't like the main character all that much- and the plot seemed forced. This is a business book, an attempt at something lighter which did not work for me. Should I mention how uncomfortable I was due to the sexist mentality of the men portrayed in this book? I tried not to let it get to me since It's a realistic portrayal after all, but still. ...more
the gift
Jun 12, 2010 the gift rated it really liked it
just read an article on the business novel in japan: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-3512... and decided i want to reread this. i wonder how it compares to those business/institution books from the '60s or '70s in the west- i was too young for them at the peak, but certainly remember the parody disaster comedy Airplane! so here is a book to reread next year...
Joni
Aug 23, 2011 Joni rated it it was amazing
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.
L
Oct 13, 2009 L rated it it was amazing
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.
Saturnina
May 18, 2017 Saturnina rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japanese
This was surprisingly good. Scheming, factions, embezzlement: ooh, the excitement! And for the most part I felt the author had a sort of a neutral tone for the characters which is not always the case. And he made me care about the workings of a supermarket chain, which is totally not something I'm usually intrigued by. So, definitely at the upper end of three stars.
Lucy Coe
Feb 12, 2014 Lucy Coe rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, favorites
This is a very interesting read. I wasn't sure what to expect. I first started reading and thought....so 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
Opal
Feb 15, 2012 Opal rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sophia
Jan 27, 2013 Sophia rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, business, 2013
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
Jennifer
Mar 15, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Xarah
Jul 03, 2010 Xarah rated it liked it
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
S.J. Pajonas
Oct 21, 2009 S.J. Pajonas rated it really liked it
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
Jason Keenan
May 10, 2013 Jason Keenan rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
I've often argued that a novel can provide a better glimpse into the real world than non-fiction. That is exactly the case with Supermarket.

This novel - originally published in Japanese in 1981 and translated in 2009 - looks behind the scenes at a grocery store in Japan through the story of a banker who leaves his job to take on the challenge of helping his relatives run a supermarket in a small town.

It's a story of personal discovery and a look behind the curtain of businesses and home life in
...more
Ben
Feb 13, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
Although not intended to be readily accessible to Westerners, Supermarket offers a great introduction to the internal culture of how the Japanese do business. Decisions to mark down blemished produce, investigate inventory shrinkage, and cope with advertising misprints are embellished with the same suspense and gravitas as the vast conspiracies at the center of most Western corporate thrillers. The book is certainly not forward-thinking about women and gays in the workplace or society. But then, ...more
Anie
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
...more
Boy Blue
Nov 16, 2016 Boy Blue rated it really liked it
I feel like I understand the Japanese even better than before. Even though a supermarket isn't the most Japanese of inventions, it does create the perfect setting to see everyone interact with each other. The Japanese reverence for the salary man, the company man, is hard to understand but this story goes a long way in helping you understand it. It's also a great story and it will keep you turning the pages.
Meredith
Oct 13, 2009 Meredith rated it it was ok
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.
Mary-Helen
Jan 22, 2017 Mary-Helen rated it really liked it
For a book based on what is, on the surface at least, a rather mundane topic this book is rich with characters and an enjoyable read. I have read a few books translated from other languages and it is always interesting to get an even better peek at another culture than a Western or American author basing a book in another culture is able to acheive. Timeless themes of taking risks and coming together to acheive goals told in a setting all of us are familiar with at least on some level.
Cheryl
Dec 24, 2011 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: adultlit
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.
Emily
Oct 22, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
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.)
Diane
Oct 09, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
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.
Katsuro Ricksand
Dec 04, 2016 Katsuro Ricksand rated it really liked it
This book was much better than a novel about a department store has any right to be. (And yes, I know the title is "Supermarket" and not "Department Store," but that's because Japanese people change the meaning of English loanwords.) The characters were easy to keep straight, and the book was just long enough.
Kristine
Jun 19, 2015 Kristine rated it really liked it
A fun read. Supermarket gives us a reflection of Supermarkets in general. We are also shown the corporate issues where people would rather climb the corporate ladder with dirt on their hands.

The protagonist is an ideal manager, setting aside his human and personal issues. A really, really good read.
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Satoshi Azuchi (1937-) was born in Tokyo. After graduating the University of Tokyo, he entered the Sumitomo Corporation, which is one of the largest trading companies in Japan. Then, he went on loan to the Summit chain of supermarkets, serving as president, chairman, and supreme advisor. While working as chairman of All Japan Supermarket Association, he made his debut as a novelist with Shosetsu R ...more
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