Friday, May 17, 2019

May 18, 2019 (Tokyo)

Vinyl shopping is an obsession of mine, but also I realize that it is also a tool for me to tour Tokyo on foot and train.  Tokyo is unique and not like any other city, but in a fashion, it reminds me of Los Angeles, in that metropolis' have a series of smaller villages that all together composes the city.  Shibuya is very different from Shinjuku, which in turn is different from Meguro, my home in Tokyo.  Each neighborhood has a specific identity.  Today I pretty much spent time in Nakano, which has a shopping arcade and building called "Nakano Broadway."  I think most would consider the actual building ugly, but for me, it has a certain charm that is hard to define.  It has no aesthetic, and it is open to others who have a taste for the bizarre, or the imaginary world of the Otaku. 

While walking in the complex it does have a smell of sweat, or perhaps their plumbing is not in order, but still, the scent brings out a sense of passion for what they may be looking for.  For example, I got totally fixated on a magnet bookmarker.  It had a flower textile design and I thought to myself, I need that bookmarker.  Yet, as every sense of my body told me to buy it, I resist and almost ran out of the stationary store.  All the Otaku shops open at 11 or even noon and close at 8.  Very solid hours, and I feel that the people who work here are comfortable with the schedule.  

One of my favorite shops in Tokyo is in the Nakano Broadway complex, and it's the store Tacoche, which is a combination of a gift shop, zine store, and art/cinema books, with a selection of Japanese underground music on the CD format,  all dealing with the Underground or counter-culture subject matter.  Tightly curated, with lots of handmade manga or zine subject matter.  I can't think of another shop in Tokyo that covers the underground world in such a splendid manner. Their hours are 12 to 8, and they are open every day, but beware that some of the shops are closed on Wednesday, which seems to be the independent shop's Sunday.

Since I'm a fan of the print media, going through vintage mangas at Mandarake is a wonderful experience.  Not only that, Mandarake is probably the largest manga books and culture store in existence.  They have a huge basement shop in Shibuya, but I prefer the mall approach at Nakano Broadway.  There are several Mandarake shops here, each one focusing on a specific subject matter or it can be used or new.  The thing is, the inventory is insanely huge, but still feels curated as well. It's a store of taste, and my favorite part of the complex is their used publications - such as vintage photo books, but also old Ben Hecht novel translated into Japanese, that looks like it was published in the 1930s.

The toy shops, many, and mostly vintage toys from the 1960s, all dealing with Japanese pop culture of the time.   I have a deep nostalgia of a past that's not mine.  For some reason, I'm drawn to this world.  Perhaps to reclaim my youth, but my imaginary sense of youth.  

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