the more i think about it, the less sense it makes.
while in tokyo, you must stop in at zoff , a branch of which you'll find around pretty much every street corner. they sell eyeglasses, but cheap, oh so cheap: i picked up a terrific pair for $50, and that included frames, lenses, and examination (fortunately, i didn't have to try to identify blurry kanji.) the most expensive pair clocked in at around $100, slightly more if you want the supah-thin lenses, still around $300 less than i've spent on every other pair i've ever bought here at home . half an hour after the exam, i stroll out with a new pair of rectangular, gray/green, vaguely japanese looking specs. and every clerk in the place made sure to swing by and thank us as we stepped out the door. what could be better?
 note that zoff, practically, labels its home page as a "web site for consumer information." handy, that. and there are links for both "about us" and "company" in the main navigation, the difference between which i am not clear about at all. and speaking of, the navigation for the site is in english even though everything else is in japanese; apparently, english navigation is "trendy." you can try to understand, but sometimes it's easier to just give up.
 very little about the pricing system in japan made sense to me. how is it that i can spend the same amount on two glasses of cheap-but-very-expensive california wine as i do on a new pair of eyeglasses? a little research reveals that it doesn't make much sense to the japanese, either; "kakaku hakai" is the phrase for it, meaning price destruction, a situation in which various niche japanese market competitors drive each other's costs down to the barest of minimums. except, apparently, the wine importers.