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ZenPlus puts Japan’s best products at your doorstep

By Mariam Atef
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Imagine yourself in New York City, wrapped up in the laid-back Japanese-style morning robe, yukata. You take a sip of aromatic green tea from an authentic Japanese cup, your eyes lingering on the iconic "Great Wave Off Kanagawa" print adorning your wall. That peaceful thought you had? It's now unfolding into a beautiful reality for people from every corner of the globe, all while they stay in the comfort of their faraway homes.

Once upon a time, the idea of things taking to the skies, zipping across borders or thousands of miles, and then landing safely on your very doorstep was something out of a storybook. Fast forward to today, and it's a dream come true for those seeking refined products made in the island nation nestled off the eastern coast of Asia: Japan.

Straight from between the hardworking fingers of a local worker in the heart of Japan, all the way to the farthest corners of the world, it's now possible for non-Japanese residents to enjoy the very same products that the Japanese do in their own homeland — with surprising speed and ease.

English Is Difficult, Ask the Japanese

Speaking fluent English in Japan used to be a rarity until recent times, with a variety of factors at play. The stark differences in the Japanese and English alphabets and pronunciation played a role, as did the limited real-life exposure to practicing English outside the classroom.

In fact, in 2022 the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) ranked Japan as the 80th country out of 111 countries and regions, thus placing the Land of the Rising Sun in the “Low Proficiency” category.

Global Dreams, Local Language

While the rich Japanese culture has extended its beauty across the world, the modest English proficiency of its people adds to the list of challenges for local Japanese businesses wishing to go global.

The relentless pursuit of excellence and unwavering work ethic often compel small businesses to forego international markets, rather than subject eager customers to the frustration of language barriers and unsatisfactory service.

Perfectionism Is in Their DNA

Dealing with the language hurdle is one thing, but a typical local retailer in Japan might not even have the necessary resources and staff to handle international shipping.

For a small business that originally started to sell genuine Japanese products to local customers, it would need to invest more than it can afford to meet international customers’ needs and provide the premium service and quality expected from Japan.

Connecting Worlds

Each woodblock print is handmade by layering color after color in a process that requires both technical skills and a great sense for this traditional art.

Ink, skillfully applied to paper by artful hands in a century-old woodblock bookshop in Japan, is now hanging on a wall somewhere in this world. Those who pass by can admire it, feeling a part of Japan in their own homes, where the distinctive scent of ink might even delight their noses as the air flows by.

Kimono fabric, beautifully crafted with a delightful array of colors and patterns, drapes gracefully over someone's body in Japan as a traditional kimono. Meanwhile, in another corner of the world, it has found a new life as a bag and is held dear by someone who admires its cultural charm.

Each woodblock used for printing is meticulously hand carved by the artisans at Unsodo.

Lacquerware, an enduring masterpiece of Japan's age-old craft, now graces the serene interior of a traditional Japanese wooden home, perhaps manifesting as a trusty pair of chopsticks, a cherished bento box, or elegant sake cups. And in distant corners of the globe, another piece of this Urushi lacquer-covered art adorns yet another dwelling, possibly as an exquisite vessel for flower arrangements, as fancy serving trays, timeless bowls and dishes, or merely as aesthetically pleasing comb and mirror sets made to endure through the generations.

Green tea, lovingly made from scratch by Japanese hands, is now savored by people in a cozy setting, creating cherished memories filled with its splendid aroma that will forever remain vivid. And if we let our thoughts wander, perhaps they are engaging in an enjoyable conversation about the unique making process of Japanese green tea that preserves its natural, highly sought-after flavor.

This access to authentic goods produced in the heart of Japan which was once an unattainable dream due to limited resources and language barriers has now become a reality realized through the e-commerce platform ZenPlus.

Making It Happen in Three Steps

From the original producer's hands directly to ZenPlus's shipping hub, followed by a seamless journey from Japan to customers’ homes all over the world—this straightforward three-step process has shown real success for nearly a decade.

Now, with approximately three thousand Japanese retail shops proudly featuring their authentic 'Made in Japan' items on ZenPlus, international shoppers can browse and cherry-pick from a treasure trove of Japan's very best.

Building Your Dream Cart

One of the most recognizable pieces of Japanese art is Hokusai's The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, which is still hand printed by Unsodo.

Imagine you're shopping for wall decor, and you stumble upon "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa," a Japanese woodblock print so famous it's been called "the most reproduced image in the history of all art." You add it to your cart.

Continuing your shopping spree on the platform, you suddenly remember, "Japan is the home of some of the world's finest green teas!" A delighted grin later, and the local Japanese green tea finds its place in your cart.

With a shopping paradise at your fingertips, you delve into the world of Japanese culinary treasures, from essential kitchen staples to exquisite fruits and vegetables, premium meats and seafood, a palette of tantalizing sauces and condiments, exotic spices, razor-sharp knives, and, for those moments when the chef's hat and apron stay off, Japan's world-famous selection of prepackaged snacks and sweets, all set for swift shipping.

As the cherry on top of your cart overflowing with Japanese goodies, you might want to explore and add some well-made anime merchandise. And if your appetite for Japanese items hasn't been sated yet, you can still toss in some traditional Japanese dolls, like the lovable beckoning cat and the somewhat intimidating Daruma doll. Because, why not?

With each click, your virtual cart transforms into a portal to the rare treasures that Japan exclusively brings to the world. Once you've made the tough call to resist the temptation of adding more marvels to the pile and firmly hit that "Place Order" button, the gears start turning…

The Final Destination

Founded in 1891 as an art book publisher in Kyoto, Unsodo is still to this day printing traditional Japanese handmade prints from their vast stock of woodblocks.

The seller and ZenPlus are given the green light to immediately whisk away your order for its upcoming journey, soaring through the skies of Japan en route to your own country. And before you know it, the virtual cart that you've joyfully loaded with original gems will suddenly materialize right at your doorstep, almost like it couldn't wait to be there.

And with that, you've got the genie in the online shopping bottle ZenPlus that makes your wildest Japanese retail dreams come true with a few rubs on your smartphone.

"Be careful what you wish for," the age-old saying goes, because once you've had a taste of the refined finesse of Japan, there's no turning back.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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