Shibuya was the only place in Tokyo that I felt slightly disappointed with. Initially anyway.
After paying our respects to wonder-dog Hachiko at the stations exit (if you don’t know the heart-wrenching story, it really is essential reading), we headed into the much hyped shopping district. Dominated by big brand, global chain stores like Gap, HMV and Tower, the place feels decidedly soulless compared to the style mash-up of Harajuku. Sure there’s the Bathing Ape shop, with it’s funky disco-bling interior and glass steps filled with trainers on conveyor belts, but the prices in there feel like someone is actually taking the piss. Same goes for the G-Star store – nice gear, but how much? Really? Most interestingly, you never see anyone actually buying fuck all in either of them.
Feeling a little deflated by the bland excess of it all, we headed back to the station, only to stumble across what felt like bumping into a good, old friend when you’re feeling down: Mandarake Shibuya.
This used to be the chain’s flagship store before the Akihabara one got moved and expanded, and while it’s not quite so big and only on one (substantial) floor, it’s pretty cavernous. If you can survive the near seizure inducing flight down steps lit only by strobe lights, you’re in a for a treat. It’s a similar deal to Complex, but with much more of an emphasis on manga and artbooks than toys, where I was not only able to pick up some Patlabor books I’d been hunting for but also a copy of the highly elusive Akira Animation Archives for my boy Al T….