Japan’s Pal System


So, a friend asked about Pal System that I just recently joined. I heard the name several years ago. I thought it was a sort of insurance company or whatever complex system that Japan has. I wouldn’t understand anyway, so I had completely no interest in it.

Three weeks ago, a Japanese woman came to my house. G opened the door while I was in the toilet reading (hah?!). She said something, he called me, I felt annoyed cause I had to rush, and you couldn’t rush it when you’re doing your own things, right? 😀 So I went out, grumpy face, and I saw this nice woman wearing the green jacket with Pal-System written on it. I was about to pretend that I don’t understand Japanese when she showed me a magazine full of vegetables and cake pictures, and (without giving me a chance to say a word) said “how would you like to have your groceries delivered to your home? We’re a cooperative specializing in delivering goods to home, maybe you’d like to hear more about us?”. And that was when she got my attention, cooperatives?

Early warning: I tried to get more information on internet about the system, but it’s all in Japanese and I was too lazy to read them, so I’ll just explain according to my understanding from the conversation with the nice lady. So, please correct me if I’m wrong.

So it is basically a cooperative comprised of farmers, companies, and individuals to buy and sell daily goods. The goods itself range from food and all its variations (frozen, canned, cakes, etc), kitchen supplies, daily supplies, fashion, cosmetics, etc. It operates like any other co-op, with membership system, fixed deposit in the beginning and so on. I’m not too familiar with cooperative system, so you should find out more by asking Uncle Google and more reliable sources.

Anyway, for the Pal System, I had to pay 1,000 yen for the deposit, which I can get back if I withdraw my membership. The System allows me to do daily shopping from home. Every Tuesday at 16.00 (their schedule for my area), there will be a driver coming to my house, bringing a set of weekly catalog magazines and an order sheet. I can decide what to buy from that catalog, write down the amount of thing I want to order under its code number. The next Tueday, I should put the order sheet in the mailbox, The driver will take it (and the catalogs if I’m too lazy to throw them away), put a new order sheet and catalogs. The week after, he’ll deliver the goods I ordered, take the new order sheet from me, and put another in my mailbox. And that’s how it goes on. They will deduct the payment from a bank account that I gave them when applying for membership. I can also order via internet, but again, I’m too lazy to read Japanese.

What I didn’t expect was:

  1. The warning about strange people from the nice lady who introduced the system to me (she said I was too nice to let her come into my house). And the assurance that local police know what Pal System is doing in my area, so if I found the lady suspicious, I can go to the police and verify her or the System activity in the area.
  2. A sheet of paper on the 2nd week, with the driver’s photo and short introduction of himself. The funny thing is that the driver should put his hobby, his strength in character, and how long he works in the System, besides his name and current residence. Me and G thought that it’s probably meant to make people feel closer to or know the driver more personally.

Well, home delivery shopping is nothing new to us, really. We often do online shopping, first for imported goods, but now for almost everything we need to cook but vegetables, which we buy at the nearby supermarket. But after doing my first order yesterday, I think I’ll try to buy vegetables from the Pal System. I mean, if you can order them one week ahead, and don’t have to bring your heavy groceries by yourselves, why bother going to supermarket, right?

Some things are only available at supermarket though, so I’m still going there. But life may be easier with Pal System, don’t you think?


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