Not by Bread Alone


I went to the seaside to fish last week, passing by many electric signboards on the road saying “Let’s avoid non-essential outings!” I know fishing is definitely thought to be a non-essential activity. As I may sound like trying to justify myself, let me say. What would be left in us if all the non-essential activities are taken away? Only by eating, excreting, and sleeping, we can keep our hearts beating, but I think we will be dead inside. Work seems to be believed to be essential, but actually is essential only for each of us to make a living. As we’ve seen so far, the world kept moving around even when most of us stayed at home. What makes us human is non-essential things, I believe.

IKEA is the biggest furniture company in the world, though it has been struggling in the Japanese market. One of the obstacles for IKEA to enter the Japanese market would be NITORI, the biggest Japanese furniture company, with about 600 directly owned stores, increasing in sales and profits for more than 30 years. We could be said to be competitors in the broad sense that both NITORI and us are furniture suppliers, though I think we are too small and beneath their notice. From a customer’s view point, I can’t help admiring them. When I moved around a lot for work, I always went to their stores where I could get everything I needed to start a new life in a new place.

Focusing only on if it’s essential or not, we have no other choice but to conclude that such discount giants win. They are necessary and sufficient, and our products would be excessive in quality, design, etc., but again, let me tell you. We and our lives consist mainly of non-essential, vague, and emotional factors. I believe people still need our furniture in order to be alive inside as well.


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.


Photo Credit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/t-magazine/museums-galleries-open-art.html