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Aitem Ehime

The Ehime World Trade Center

In a rather out-of-the-way part of Matsuyama sits a futuristic looking building of metallic and concrete crescents and tubes, with much glass and many escalators. This is Aitem Ehime, otherwise known grandly in English as the Ehime World Trade Center. It might not be an obvious port of call for visitors, but if you find yourself in the vicinity when an event is being held, it’s worth a look, especially if you have a commercial turn of mind.

Aitem Ehime is dedicated to trade, and as such it’s home to the Ehime branch of JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization. If you need any help with your external trade, you can make an appointment with one of the helpful advisers here.

But rather than external trade, Aitem Ehime is currently more provincial than anything else. Its huge exhibition halls are used for showcasing local industries, and the visitors also tend to be local. There are exhibitions about everything – cars, winter sports, environmental technologies, agriculture, housing – you name it.

On the third floor is another rather provincial nook, the Local Products and Tourism Center. This features attractive displays of Ehime’s products including pearls, textiles, ceramics, woodcrafts, beer and sake, and confectionery, all of which are for sale. So if you’re looking for a souvenir or gift, you can be sure to find something for any budget here. Beyond the commercial area, there’s a slightly pointless tourism center, with lots of pamphlets and posters, which are beautifully produced, unfortunately all in Japanese. Nevertheless, the posters display a good deal of design flair, and presented altogether, they have a certain impact.

Grand as its name sounds, the Ehime World Trade Center is the site of popular flea markets. These are held on national holidays, and they draw many visitors. Naturally there’s a great deal of junk on offer, but you can also find fun, useful, attractive, and valuable things here. Antique dealers regularly present a selection of their wares, some of which might give you a little frisson of sticker shock if you thought that real samurai weaponry goes for a song at flea markets. It doesn’t. Here too, you can be sure to find something interesting to take home to remind you of your visit. Even if it’s a whacky plastic figure from the 1970s, don’t forget that you’re participating in World Trade with Ehime.

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