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Takashi Iwai – Manga Headphones Catalogue & Guidebook (新・萌えるヘッドホン読本) (2008)

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I know a lot of people really dug the Anime Guide to Headphones image I posted up a few months ago, myself included, so I couldn’t resist picking up the book it was meant to promote when I stumbled across it in Mandarake.

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Yet again – as with all these Japanese artbooks – it’s beautifully printed. Each double page spread features a page of Japanese text and diagrams about a particular brand and model of headphones opposite a large, full colour illustration of a girl modeling them.

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art ghibli Ghibli museum Japan Kawaii Links > Anime & Manga Mitaka Tokyo Totoro

Ghibli Museum shopping spree

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As mentioned in an earlier post, we survived the melee of the Ghibli Museum shop, even if we were left more than a few thousand yen poorer by the experience…

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First of our spoils is this beautifully printed Mei and the Kittenbus book. An essential purchase for us, especially as we were so lucky to catch the film, it’s a short but glossy leaflet style affair, featuring tons of great scenes telling the story of the short. It’s the only official way of seeing any images from the film outside the museum, and as far as I’m aware only available from the shop. Click the thumbnails below for more glimpses…

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Katsuhiro Otomo Art Books

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Some of the coolest things I picked up in Tokyo were a trio of Katsuhiro Otomo art books – although sadly they weren’t for me, intended instead for my favourite Otomo-san obsessive Al T. Shame, as I would have liked to have spent some quality time with these beauties. Luckily though, I was able to grab a few shots before I let him get his grubby paws all over them.

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The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

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Despite having been boringly safely back in the UK for over a month now, I’m still only just managing to mentally process everything we saw and experienced in Tokyo. A major highlight for us, in fact one of the main reasons for going in the first place, was our trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum in the suburb of Mitaka.

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Tokyo has the coolest roadworks in the world

You couldn’t make this shit up.

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Check this guy’s outfit – I’d have killed for that get-up back in my early 90s techno days.

I took this photo outside our apartment in Shinjuku; apparently this guy was paid to stand there all night waving his lightsabre at the passing, minimal traffic. Another reason Japan has such low unemployment – well, until recently at least.

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Japan Links > Anime & Manga mandarake manga Patlabor photography Shibuya Tokyo travel

Shibuya

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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.

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Akihabara Japan Links > Anime & Manga model kits Patlabor science fiction Super Modelers Tokyo travel WANT

Super Modelers – Akihabara

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Look, I know what you come here for. Really. I mean, I’m sure you’ve been enjoying reading about the last few days exploring Tokyo’s ancient monuments and culture, but I know what you’re thinking.

Where the fuck is the anime and the toys, Tim?

Well, my friends, let me put you out of your misery.

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Torinoichi Bamboo Rake Festival

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While chilling in the gardens around Dembo-in in Asakusa, admiring the beautiful Koi under the bridges, I got chatting to an elderly local called Hideo. I think he just wanted to flex his pretty impressive English skills, but his eyes lit up when we told him we were staying in Shinjuku. Excitedly, he insisted that when we got back there, we head on down to the Hanazono Jinjya Shrine, as there was a one day, once a year Torinoichi Bamboo Rake Festival taking place, and it ended at midnight. He explained it was where these elaborate bamboo charms were sold that would bring good luck for the following year.

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Asakusa

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You could be forgiven, on first arriving at Asakusa on the Ginza subway line, that you’ve descended into Japanese tourist-trap hell. And to some extent you’d be right; it certainly seems to be the most touristy place I visited in Tokyo at least – as soon as you pass under the impressive Kaminari-mon (“Thunder Gate”) you’re greeted by a line of literally dozens of stalls selling everything from woodblock prints to Gundam model kits. Further down though, towards the Senso-ji temple, they give way to more traditional craft stalls, with giving you a unique chance to see artists in action. The Temple at Dembo-in, where Japan’s two leading religions Buddism and Shinto meet, and it’s surrounding gardens and pogodas are breathtaking, and a welcome break from the initial chaos.

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