My Japan Trip: Part 5: Shinjuku and Nakano

 

If yesterday was a search for retro gaming and gashapon, today was most definitely a hunt for Blythe dolls and craft shops.

I got on the Yamanote Line train up to Shinjuku around 9:30am – it was a Sunday so I thankfully avoided the horrific rush hour traffic we met on our way back from Mt.Fuji. Shinjuku is just 2 stops up from our base at Shibuya, so I was there in no time.

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The above photo is the view upon exiting the station – I descended the stairs and made my way left in search of a chain of craft stores that had been recommended to me many times – Okadaya.

I have to confess I was wandering round the streets of Shinjuku about 2 hours in search of this store. On my walks I found a great underground shopping mall with a basement full of cafes and restaurants, where I had a drink and a slice of cake. It was so hot this Sunday and I just needed to sit down awhile, and this was the perfect place. Also in this shopping mall was a great fabric store, selling traditional (and expensive) kimono fabrics. You could see the ladies in the shop fitting kimonos for customers – the fabrics used were so pretty and vivid.

Wandering, wandering, wandering – about an hour later I found the first of the Okadaya stores – the one for fabrics. Inside was about every type of fabric you could imagine, from cotton to denim, linen to kimono fabrics. I was very tempted to buy some small print cotton for Blythe dresses, but I was very good and managed to resist.

Across the little side street was the main store I’d come to see – the one containing yarn. Inside it was like a yarn addicts paradise..

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Again, like the fabric store across the street, there was every type of yarn you could think of. I particularly liked these acrylics, in rainbow colours…

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I regret it now, but I didn’t buy any yarn here (shock, horror!). The yarn I find myself buying these days is usually acrylic, in bulk, for blankets. I loved the little 50g balls of yarn pictured above, but I have to say it was a little expensive, and the amount I would need to make a blanket with would leave me with no holiday money to spend on my last day. They were very pretty though…

It was about 1pm by now, so I headed to a McDonalds on the corner near the railway track. I went up to the 3rd floor and got a nice seat overlooking Shinjuku…

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I couldn’t believe people were still walking round in coats – it was so hot this day! I left weird being the only one out without a coat, but theres no way I could have put up with the heat if I’d have left it on.

I sat here a while, then headed back downstairs and onto the streets of Shinjuku again. I had a further wander round, mainly round near the station. After a while I decided to move on to my next destination – Nakano.

Getting to Nakano means travelling on a train that isn’t on the Yamanote Line, so I needed to navigate different platforms at Shinjuku Station. It was no problem though – everything in Tokyo is so well signposted, even with signs in English. I liked the trains the most – there were LED displays above the doors telling you the next station, and on what side of the train the doors would open. You don’t get that on the London Underground!

My main reason for travelling up to Nakano was for toy shopping. Just north of the stations North Exit is the main draw – Nakano Broadway. It’s a shopping mall full of toy shops, which you get to through a gallery of food, convenience and mobile phone shops.

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Photo (c) www.frolichawaii.com via Google

At the end of this little parade of shops you reach the outside of Nakano Broadway proper…

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Photo (c) www.japan-guide.com via Google

As always, I intended to go to the top floor and work my way down. Upon arriving at the top floor though I found the whole floor to be a massive gaming arcade, no signs of shops. So I skipped that level. Big mistake.

I looked round the remaining floors, Ooh-ing and Aah-ing at all the amazing toys for sale. I found a shop full of ‘girl’ toys, including these Licca Dolls…

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Kawaii!! Though as of yet I was still to find any Blythe dolls, which is what I was mainly here for. Hmm…

Onto more shops – a lot of the shops here were owned by Mandarake, and therefore sold a lot of second hand collectable and vintage toys. It was so fun looking round them all, especially finding the retro Japanese monsters and dinosaur figures. They were really cool, but sadly a little outside of my price range.

It was very hard to get photos in these shops, but I got a few sneaky ones on my iPhone. Like this one…

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Toy paradise!! 😀

Also in this shop I spotted an amazing sample of amigurumi work – I have no idea what he was but he was so fab!

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Look at the detail in the face! Wow!

I only noticed when I got home and looked through my photos that there is also an amigurumi in the background of that shot – it looks like a tomato with a smily face hehe!

I made my way down the levels, buying little bits here and there that took my fancy. I got a little do-it-yourself doll kit, where you buy mix and match hair, face and body parts all separately and build it up yourself. I got a Miku version, shown in the picture at the bottom of the page.

I reached the entrance of Nakano Broadway and have to admit I was a little disappointed not to find many Blythe dolls. I had heard stories of the hoards of Blythes you could find in Nakano, and all the bargain to be had. I however had only found a couple of dolls in the Mandarake. I must have missed something….

I decided to head back into the shopping centre, determined to find what I had come here for. I decided to check out the very top floor again – the one with the arcade. I ascended a different elevator this time, and Thank God I did! It opened up onto a completely different area of the top floor, this one with more toy shops, and more importantly, shops with Blythe dolls! Lots of Blythe dolls!

Seriously, there were glass cases full to the brim with every Blythe doll you could think of. From stock new releases to second hand favourites, customs to Kenners…

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This auburn Kenner was my favourite – she was so pretty and in brilliant condition, probably why she merited a 150,000yen price tag (approx. £1,003 GBP/$1,439 USD). Believe me, if I’d have had that amount of money I could have bought her, of course I would, but, alas, I didn’t. So I left her in the display case. Sad face 🙁

I didn’t leave empty handed though – after about 45 minutes perusing the different shops and Blythes on offer I settled on a super cute, second hand Friendly Freckles that was hiding away in the bottom corner of one of the bigger stores. I also found some toys I was aiming to get whilst in Tokyo – a Wonder Frog and an Odeco-Chan! Yay! I bought all 3 of these treasures in the same shop, and in turn spending most of the last of my money. I had a about 10yen after this 😛

I left Nakano Broadway on cloud 9, so happy I had found what I had come all this way for. I made my way back through the gallery of convenience stores and onto the train station, bound for Shibuya.

Back at the hotel I had a grape Fanta from the vending machine and sat down to admire the days purchases…

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As well as the Blythe, Odeco-Chan and Wonder Frog, I got a D-I-Y Miku, a Blythe outfit, Halloween Edition Sonny Angel, 3 kawaii -block-type figures and a weird looking mushroom man – he was so strange looking I just had to have him hehe!

Here he is admiring the view from the window…

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Isn’t he fab?! He has a magnetic hat haha!

I decided to spend my last evening in Japan wandering round the now familiar streets of Shibuya. I visited the Parco store, one I had somehow managed to overlook the day before. Thank God I did – look what I found!

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Double yay! 😀

It was a whole section dedicated to the Blythe store Junie Moon. Bags, clothing, books, dolls, phone cases, postcards, stickers, pencil cases – it was all here. I was so sad I had spent all of my money!

There was however a little pot on one of the tables with some freebies in it – including an Ayanami Rei Blythe iPhone 5 sticker – so I snapped it up, seen as I have an iPhone 5 myself! Score!

I walked round a little more, up to the Tokyo Hands and down Center Gai. I got another cake from the Starbucks overlooking the crossing, hoping to sit and watch the passers by for a while, but it was so busy – there wasn’t a single seat available. So I took my cake back to the hotel, grabbed another can of grape Fanta, and settled in for the night.

And so ended our last full day in Japan. We were to return to London the next day at around 10am, which meant I should get some sleep for our early start. I planned to get up extra early anyway in order to explore Shibuya whilst no one was around, something I had meant to do since we arrived, but never got round to.

The last instalment of this report will be posted tomorrow, I hope you can join me on my early morning wandering and journey back to London!


Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here

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