I was reading through my introduction to Itazura when it dawned on me that I hadn’t included half of my favorite items from the shop, so here we go again! Needless to say, I would highly advise you to read the original post before you begin so you get an idea of the new kind of Japanese vintage fashion that this place focuses on, as otherwise this might just look like a random aggregation of culture, but trust me, there is method to this particular madness.
This is how the place appears from the doorway in, and you have to virtually crawl to get inside due to the thickness of the jungle-like canopy of toys hanging from the ceiling, which has the duel effect of concealing the exit once you are inside. Those who suffer with claustrophobia (or vast hair) might struggle, but the effect is wonderful and as I was chatting with the manager he revealed that this was just the start of the shop and that he wants it to be almost impossible to traverse in time. On the other hand, if you actually want to try on clothes, it is surprisingly well thought out as he has made an entire wall into a mirror so that once you have swept the toys and miscellany out of the way you can see yourself fairly easily.
It may all be a bit silly and not very “fashion” boutique with perfect lighting and classy fittings, but that is hardly the point. This place is a pure expression of the joie de vivre, excess, and commercialism of Japan’s Lost Generation and younger. It is a space saturated with culture, to the point where it doesn’t have to make sense – where the notion of an idea is enough. It may be an expression of an era that has been vapid and commercial, but it has also been a whole lot of fun and looking round at a shop like this I think it has been worthwhile. Places like Nakano Broadway and Mandarake may be better at preserving all that is good in the past 50 years or so of Japanese culture, but I think by doing so they are kidding themselves about what it was actually like. I mean, I get excited by the notion of the original Gundam series (and there is a pair of jeans painted with Gundam in this shop that I might be able to wear), but I know that I am only interested in the nostalgia and iconography and I am never likely to sit down and actually watch the original anime again. What I am getting at is that this is a place that is representative of the peaks and troughs of culture, that doesn’t pretend that it is high culture or indeed worthy of any fate beyond being thrown together in a heap. But by presenting it as it does, it becomes an influx of nostalgia, both good and bad, for you to indulge in as you see fit.
I can never resist a Tokyo telephone, and yes, that is a Virtual Boy controller on the right.
This is actually the ceiling! The only clear surface is the painted floor.
This is the front door, which makes for a good read in its own right.
The place really does have a wealth of Sailor Moon accessories, I believe that they are all from one member of the Kamisama-Gokko group of re-make designers.
People always like to say that the future that was promised to the first generation of Otaku went unfulfilled, and thus they retreated into childish subjects as a means of preserving that dream, but to be perfectly frank I doubt there is anyone, Otaku or not, that doesn’t have nostalgic memories tucked away in their head. Whether you indulge them privately on the tiny screen of your phone in the form of a game you played as a child, or build a shrine to them, it all comes from the same place.
Doraemon inviting you to play a game of Smash Bros.
The Virtual Boy is a perfect example of nostalgia as a notion and not a reality in that the damn thing made my head hurt after 20 minutes of play, had maybe one game that I got into (Wario), and was admired more than played. On the other hand the memory of wanting to own one, the red on black colours, futuristic headset that promised more than it could deliver and the hint of the future will always have a place in my childhood. To see one in a shop like this makes me feel something, and when it is next to a manga that I also vaguely remember from back in the day it all culminates in a great experience for those who made this generation their own.
The back of a dyed and bleached fencing jacket.
The owners dog who refused to leave me alone the whole time we were inside – not that I was complaining!
Between these two posts on Itazura, I hope you have a decent idea of what this place is like, and I am sure we will be hearing more from them soon. Right, I am off to re-live my childhood…