ToyboxDX Brog: Japanese Toy Blog » Umm, Where’s my Passport? Part 5: Shimokitazawa, or, always call ahead
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June 8, 2010

Umm, Where’s my Passport? Part 5: Shimokitazawa, or, always call ahead

Filed under: Toy News — Jerilock @ 9:27 am

Well we’re nearing the end of our story here. Last time we found our hero hanging out in Nakano. This time we begin in Shimokitazawa. Unfortunately due to schedule issues and the like this is going to be the shortest and probably more boring chapter of the story. So the day after the hang out with the Alt I once again ventured out on my own. I went out with Tokyo underground in hand and entered the strange twisted streets of Shimokitazawa, of course starting out going the opposite direction from all the shops, but it gave me a chance to see the new updated sign.
at first this kinda threw me for a bit of a loop as the sign here didn’t match the pics in my guide, but the handy dandy pics in Tokyo Underground came to the rescue, I was able to match up to the wall behind the sign and using that reference point I was on my way towards the few, yet funky shops that are found here. First stop; Natuka Shia. I had heard that this shop was known for having some older items and I was on the prowl for some Bullmark tin goodness (I curse Fraser for turning me onto these things >_<). I rounded a corner and saw the Zappas awning. Sweet!
I climbed the stairs, only to be met with a locked and shuttered door…..
Crap, it’s Tues and they’re closed……. *sigh*, Oh well, I had heard this place didn’t always have a great stock selection and stuff… yeah… that makes it hurt a bit less… I headed down the road once again, hoping a wide eyed, mouth hanging open wandering in (H)ome Rice would help. I wandered around the general vicinity where it was supposed to be a couple times, passing by Toys Paradise and Zemba Shoten. After a couple circles around the same block I wandered into a sake shop and in my best broken japanese asked if they could direct me to Ome Rice. They pointed direct across the street from their shop at a closed and locked non descript store front and said closed……. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Twice in one day……. Grrrrr….. I checked my guide and I knew I was there at the right time, and there were no closed days listed…. Talking to Alt after wards it turns out that it’s quite common in Japan for shops to close on random days and/or random times. I gathered my sanity and headed over to Toys Paradise. Out front there were dozens of boxes and bins full of random stuff, some of it cool (Erasers, LP’s, carded sofubi etc) Some of it kinda boring and bleh. I did some digging outside and then peered inside, knowing I had some rough times ahead.
While looking well organized at first glance this place was a crazy rats nest, cabinets stuffed to bursting.
Shelves stuffed with vinyls, and dozens of tiny drawers, filled with all sorts of key chains, nick nacks, Gashapon, erasers… the list goes on O_o.
Of course mixed in amongst the JP toys was a TON of American stuff, old marvel characters figures, Megos, Star wars, Ghostbusters, Toy Story…. a very eclectic mix. Once again, greetings with the owner, showing of collection pics and questions about what was there or not there. I was looking at a Geeg tin in a small case to the right of the counter. The price was high and it was not something I was seriously interested in. That’s when the owner told me they were having a store wide 50% off sale… WHOA….. Ok then…I started looking a bit more earnestly then, knowing stuff was half off does that to ya….
It was then that I overheard a bit of english, but with a bit of an Australian twist to it. I met a fellow collector, awesome! we chatted for a bit. Turns out this was her first visit to Japan for toys in a very long while, and she’s still doing it old school, doesn’t use the internet (had never heard of tbdx or cdx), didn’t have any guides with her, I expected her to whip out a binder full of gangu jinsei clippings, magic box ads and the like. She asked about what shops I had been to up to that point and when I whipped out my copy of Tokyo Underground she was sorta amazed that such a publication was available. While I started digging in the stuffed to the gills gokin cabinet in the back she flipped through the book, asking questions, writing down addresses and phone numbers and the like. I am pretty certain that she’s most likely ordered her own copy by now. She was looking at a Battinger that was up high and I told her it was an awesome piece, especially with the 50% off sale. The owner got a ladder and snagged it down, I checked it for her, after seeing it was complete and in good shape I congratulated the score, after the discount it was 15k, not a bad price at all. I asked how she expected to get it back, and was regaled with tales of past visits when she’s ship back dozens of boxes filled with stuff… good times indeed.
p1020431 We chatted a bit more, all the while I dug. This shop had a very nice selection of Grips, I snagged a couple and then I saw what looked like a clover gundam tin walker. I was stoked, but then I opened the box and saw it was the all plastic version and was a bit broken. ugh. oh well back it went. Unlike the other shops I’d been to, the counters here were already piled with stuff, so it was a bit hard to make a buy pile, but the owner was nice enough to bag stuff up for me as I handed them over. One cool thing I saw here were some Bullmark brochures and sales catalogs. Turns out the owner there collects them, not just Bullmark but bandai, takatoku and takemi. Awesome stuff.. The bullmark catalog I looked at showed pictures of what looked like a prototype of the DX Mekanda chogokin, as well as the Mekanda JM!!!! That was a sweet find, I would have gone for it, but, like I said, this guy collects these, and while they’re “for sale” he doesn’t seem to eager to move them that quick, he was asking about $900 for the catalog that had the Mekanda pics in it. Most of the other ones he had were priced right around the $600 range…. Drat.
I finished up the digging, checking my watch I’d been in that one shops for over 2 hours. Dang.
Out of nowhere, the owner handed me the Geeg tin I had been checking out before and scribbled down a price on a scrap of paper, 16k, down to 8k yen after the 50% off…. hmmm… Hella better than 25k.. I went for it, a nice piece at a good price. One cool detail about this place is that for every 1000 yen you spend you’re allowed to grab one freebie item out of a bin of random mini figures or trading cards out of a couple binders (kamen rider kiakider, sailor moon, that sorta stuff) and the like. I was allowed to pull 34 items, mostly cards. Finally it was time to head out, final picture was taken and I made my farewells.
I figured I had some time so I’d do some exploring. The whole town had this vintage, acid wash, dingy funk to it. Dress the folk wandering around in period clothes and this could easily pass for the 60’s-70’s.
Kick ass arcade.
I saw this killer bar that had all sorts of vintage movie poster art for decorations setup.
By now the sun was starting to set and the streets were lighted by the crusty, flickering, dated neon, giving everything this crazy wierd glow… errie, but calming and mysterious at the same time. I wandered past a ton of used clothing shops, a bunch of used sneaker shops (why anybody would buy used shoes I’ll never understand, blah :-p)… Well, all good things must come to an end. I boarded the train and headed back to Utsunomiya. I am regretful that I wasn’t able to see all the shops that were there, but once again that’s just another reason to head back again soon. So ok then guys, the old score card, as it were: Geeg tin, Grip Blazer, Grip Condor man, Grip Daibaron dx upper half, Grip Gatchaman Galactor tank thing, Z-gokin Rockbat, Robocon theme LP, Mid sized Dougram sofubi, mini Yamato analyzer wind up, Kamen Rider mini figure, 34 random assorted bonus items. So ends part 5 guys, hope you enjoyed it, wish there was more content for it, but oh well. Stay tuned for the last and final chapter, Umm, Where’s my Passport. Part 6: Burgers with a side of Combattler.

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