Mandarake

Any respectable otaku knows about Mandarake, the largest reseller of used manga and anime related products in the Tokyo area. Nakano Broadway, just outside of Nakano station, is home to no less than a dozen Mandarake shops, each catering to a different type of collector. From models to manga, to collectable Disney, you’d have a…

Ikebukuro

Long time the punchline¬†of jokes of Tokyoites as the destination for Saitama hicks, poor Ikebukuro has suffered many¬†injustices over the years. But its underdog reputation has kept it flying under the radar and given it a chance to develop subcultures that are unique to Tokyo. Ikebukuro boasts the largest Chinese immigrant population in Tokyo, making…

Ginza Itoya

How does a stationery store stay in business for over 100 years even 25 years after email nearly killed the handwritten letter? Ask the folks in charge of Itoya, the venerable stationery shop that recently opened a new flagship store in Ginza called G. Itoya. Innovation is the key, and the eight floors of G….

Asakusa – Bengara

You can’t walk around Japan without seeing the beautiful noren hanging in the doorways of shops and restaurants, but what if you wanted a unique one to take home as a souvenir? The ability to custom order a noren combined with a friendly owner who can communicate fairly well in English makes Bengara the place…

Yanaka

Yanaka is a quiet neighborhood in the northeast corner of urban Tokyo, partly because it is the last of the truly shitamachi neighborhoods of old Tokyo and partly because several thousands of its inhabitants are no longer part of the living. Yanaka Cemetery takes a large part of the neighborhood and is the permanent “home”…

Yamato Antique Fair

On the third Saturday of each month, hundreds of sellers gather around the Yamato JR station in Kanagawa at a street fair focused on Japanese antiques. Sellers range from professional dealers to market hoppers with boxes of unsorted items they hope to rid themselves of quickly. For the visitor to Japan, the antique fair environment…

Shinjuku Station New South Exit

In an effort to simplify the overwhelming chaos of Shinjuku Station, the powers-that-be now bring you the “New South Exit” of Shinjuku Station. One of the first things you will realize is that it doesn’t actually replace the “old” South Exit; it’s just a new structure built on the southern side of the street from…

Otaru

Otaru is a port city on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, about 25 minutes from its capital, Sapporo. Otaru thrived as a trading center until the mid 20th century when coal mines around the city started to run dry. Today, Otaru serves as a bedroom community for the Sapporo workforce as well as a wonderful…

Nippori Fabric Town

For those with crafty leanings, Nippori Fabric Town is a neighborhood of northern Tokyo populated by over 100 shops selling all sorts of fabrics, ribbons and buttons and as well as over a dozen shops specializing in leather. Fabrics ranging from simple cotton to silk, from plain and printless to elaborate Japanese traditional designs are…

Ameyoko

For those who think Japan is a place of order, descend into the chaos of Ameyoko to see the other side. Something between flea market and farmers market, Ameyoko has the feel of a bustling Southeast Asian night bazaar rather than the sterile, uber-polite shopping experience of most Japanese shops. Born from post-war Japan, Ameyoko…