(Reuters) - They customize the headrests of their Rolls-Royces with "Harry Potter writing," sip martinis poured over diamonds and buy $130,000 watches on a whim.
Meet Japan's big spenders.
On a Wednesday night, carefully coiffed women in fur coats slide into a rooftop bar in Ginza, Tokyo's most exclusive shopping district. Ten floors below, the streets resound with the angry growl of a Ferrari stuck in a traffic jam.
In this setting reminiscent of the booming 1980s, it seems hard to believe that Japan is suffering from weak consumer spending.
Despite a sluggish economy, tepid retail sales and a weak yen, demand for super-luxury goods and services is up, thanks to a small, growing class of new rich -- the winners of Japan's economic reforms.
In a society that used to value equality and modesty, these entrepreneurs and executives in sectors such as information technology and finance like to flaunt their wealth.
"People have a view of the Japanese as quite conformist," said Matthew Bennett, general manager of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Japan. "But the number of people asking us to do something we've never seen before is the highest in the world."
Japanese clients frequently arrive with bits of cloth or magazine photos, asking for a custom-made Rolls-Royce, he said. One ordered a two-tone car in light grey and tomato red, a previously unseen color combination that added more than $20,000 to the retail price of about $390,000. Another had his Rolls-Royce fitted with a refrigerator and television, bringing the price up to about $550,000. Yet another asked for his initials to be put on the headrests in Gothic script -- or, as he put it, "Harry Potter writing" -- an extra $5,000.
Rolls-Royce's bespoke services for Russian and Eastern European clients centre around armored cars. Chinese color requests all tend to be for auspicious red and gold. But in Japan, Bennett said, the wealthy stand out with personal and often quirky ideas.