I went to Ginza today with a few distant relatives from China. Ginza's the kind of place that makes you feel poor. At first, you tend to think that the extra few 0's at the end were added by accident.
I can't afford any of the stuff there nor do I wish to buy them if I had the money; I'm not into fashion. What surprised me is that these relatives from China are rich. A better term might be nouveau riche. The tendency to spend, and especially display wealth is typical of the newly rich, and it is an epidemic here (referring to Japan, China, and Korea). People here have to realize that wearing $6,000 worth of Burberry and Louis Vuitton doesn't make you a better person. I think that if one is indeed blessed with fortune, one should use discretion and show a little subtlety. Conspicuous consumption is a social problem with implications that may be difficult to see.
Over-consumption is a social norm here. It's basically expected that one has at least a few brand names on their person. This is doesn't apply to guys as much, but the girls here certainly feel pressure. Sure, there are many wealthy people, and yes, they buy many brand name goods. The sad part is that the average Joe - probably Jane in this case - is expected to do the same. What happens? They wear a few grand, looking like they are the daughter or wife of a multi-millionaire, and have basically nothing in savings.
It's a fact that many girls (and some guys too) in Tokyo are very materialistic. This is why I'm very glad to have met a few girls here that do not prioritize making and spending money.
So there goes my anti-materialism rant. I'm not against great brands, rather I'm against the notion that one must wear brand names to fit into society.