by Elfette Maria Anderson

Elfette Maria Anderson

About an hour’s drive from Tokyo is the city called Gotemba in Shizuoka Prefecture. It’s midway between Mt. Fuji and the Hakone resort area. In this area are art galleries, a couple of museums and a great golf course or two.

But what makes Gotemba so very attrac­tive for both casual and dedicated shoppers is the Gotemba Premier Outlets, located on the heavily traveled Tomei Expressway. The mall is home to a large group of outlet stores. This concept originated in North America where great clusters of outlet stores attract hordes of bargain-hunting shoppers looking for top brands at discount prices.

The Gotemba center has direct sales out­lets for many, many well-known brand names from countries around the world. A day at the Gotbemba Premier Oudets, shopping at discount prices, can be a really enjoyable experi­ence with Mount Fuji providing a unique backdrop as you stroll from shop to shop up and down the open-air mall.

This mall opened in July 2000 and fea­tures many of the most sought-after designer and brand names. Stores  include Bally, Brooks Brothers, Trussardi, Bottega, Veneta, Escada, La Perla, Triumph and the United Colors of Benetton, just to name a few.

There are shoe shops, accessories, home furniture and various luggage and leather goods. Also many children’s stores abound; for example Petit Batgeau, Gap Kids, Hakka Kids. And talking about the kids, there is a play area where dads and moms can relax while the kids cavort and have fun.

When you want to rest your feet and do something for the appetite you will have developed after all this shopping, there are many places to dine. There is a huge food court where you can sample items served from several different countries. There’s “Crazy Crepes” stalls, a sweet factory and sev­eral small cafes dotted throughout the mall.

And, if you decide to spend the night, you can stay at the Numazu Tokyu, a high-rise California-style hotel with quite reasonable rates.

I’ve picked up real fashion bargains and a China service which I like so much. My husband Ron has gone with me—initially strug­gling and kicking a bit, but he came back smiling after he found some really nice sports and dress shirts and also some handsome shoes in his size. I’m a little worried that he might become addicted to the Gotemba ‘ Premier Outlets; he is not easy to please and this has to be some sort of recommendation.

Gotemba Premier Outlets is open daily on the following schedule: November to June, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; July and August, 10 am. to 9 p.m.; June, September and October, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To get to Gotemba—by car from Tokyo, take Expressway No. 3 Yoga IC to Gotemba IC for downtown. By train from Shinjuku, Odakyu Line Express Asagjri to Gotemba By train from Yokohama, Tokaido Line to Kozu and Gotemba Line to Gotemba. For more information, please call 0550-81-3122. Happy shopping!