Miyazaki magic in store

Miyazaki magic in store

True dedication will make Donguri Republic a success

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Store manager Ayako Kong is passionate about Miyazaki animations.
Store manager Ayako Kong is passionate about Miyazaki animations.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP
Dedicated fans of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki might have travelled to Japan in the past to stock up on themed merchandise from Studio Ghibli films at a store called Donguri Republic.

Now, Donguri Republic comes to them. The Harbour City store, which opened last week, is Donguri Republic's first branch outside of Japan.

Manager of Donguri Republic, Hong Kong, Ayako Kong Sze-wai, says for the new shop to be a hit, staff must be "experts in Miyazaki animation. We lend DVDs of the movies to sales staff, to help familiarise them with the work of Miyazaki. With more than 600 items [in store] and more coming in, there is a lot to handle."

Kong believes it is her own passion for Miyazaki animation that got her the job as store manager. She had been working at a Japanese company that manufactures merchandise for Miyazaki animations.

"I had zero sales experience, [so] it was really amazing for me to be offered the post of store manager," she says. "I guess my passion for Miyazaki [showed]. I have watched almost all of Miyazaki's animations. I love them because they all carry special meaning. For example, My Neighbour Totoro teaches young children to behave well, as only good children get to see Totoro. It is really cute. Howl's Moving Castle spreads a message of peace. The main character, Sophie, tries to stop a war and takes on an evil witch."

Kong's favourite Miyazaki animation is Whisper of the Heart.

"I like it because the main character is a girl that is the same age I was when I first watched it," she says. "I imagined myself as the girl in the film, and falling in love with a boy."

Now, Kong's new job gets her even closer to the films she adores. To prepare for the position, Kong spent a month at Donguri Republic in Japan.

"I was trained in all areas, including packaging of commodities, discarding rubbish and price tagging," she says. "The Japanese dedication towards providing excellent service really impresses me. They are so polite and always willing to help.

"These days, not many shopkeepers remember the importance of a smile. I hope my employees here treat clients politely, smile, and greet them when they enter and leave the store. This is the kind of attitude that I want [staff at] my shop to have."

If everything goes well, Kong says there will be a Donguri Republic cafe opening in the near future.


You might also like:

- Fans will find all sorts of cool Studio Ghibli merchandise at the new Donguri Republic store in Hong Kong.

- Our readers pick their favourite Studio Ghibli character for this week's Top 10

- John gets some useful tips from the maker of a diamond-encrusted suit on how to look your best.

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