There are no streets in Tokyo which are known as fashionable afternoon resorts, because the shops are so constructed that one cannot stop before them without being accosted by the squatting salesmen.
Only in a few main streets are there regular rows of shops with show-windows against which one could press one’s nose to look at the wares exhibited or peer beyond at the shop-girls at the counter; but then business is not done in Japan over the counter, nor do shop-girls hide their charms behind a window, for the shops are open to the street and the show-girls, or “signboard-girls” as we call them, squat at the edge visible to all passers-by and are as distinctive a feature of the shop as the signboard itself.
The goods are exhibited on the floor in glass cases or in piles, a custom which is not commendable when pastry or confectionery is on sale, for standing as it does on the south-eastern end of the great plain of Musashino, Tokyo is a very windy city, and the thick clouds of fine dust raised by the wind on fair days cover every article exposed and penetrate through the joints of glass cases, so that in Tokyo a man who is fond of confectionery must expect to eat his pound of dirt not within a lifetime, but often in a few weeks.
If one stops for a moment to look at the wares, he is bidden at once to sit on the floor and examine other articles which would be brought out for his inspection, whereupon he has either to accept the invitation or move on.
One seldom cares therefore to loiter in the street. The only shops that are often crowded by loiterers are the booksellers’ and cheap-picture dealers’.