When last we left Harajuku, we were standing outside of the Peanuts theme store with our Gothloli friend:

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The Peanuts store is pretty damned awesome, what with it being a completely and thoroughly ‘themed’ shopping experience, meant to feel like the historical middle American past of the strip.

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By the way, in Japan it’s not Peanuts, it’s all about the Snoopy. Welcome to Snoopy-Town!

Continue reading this entry after the cut:

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It was almost Halloween when we were there, which explains the Great Pumpkin display, as well as the ghost-costume wearing Snoopies and Woodstocks.

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Hey look! It’s the English-language Fantagraphics-published Peanuts books! In Japan! (alongside tons of volumes of the Japanese Snoopy collections, of course). This image is here in the hopes that the fine folks at http://www.fantagraphics.com/blog will link me. *Cough*

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Also, heh.

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Notice the themeing on the counter? Look familiar?

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The whole thing was like an outdoor market in California somewhere, ‘cracker pavement’ floors, sewer grates, the whole nine yards.

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Even a fire-hydrant.

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What’s with all the aprons? We saw aprons everywhere… I know there’s a really specific domestic culture in Japan, but I feel like people in Japan are collecting aprons rather than buying them to use… Like decorative thimbles or something. Weird.

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These were both pretty awesome, actually. :)

We actually bumped into a woman in the Peanuts shop who was carrying a Tintin shopping bag… which blew my mind. I mean, I’d knd of acclimated to the idea of a Peanuts Boutique store (not a boutique: actually bigger than most comic stores I’ve visited), but a Tintin boutique? In the area? She spoke really great english and actually gave me the commemorative postcard that you get with purchases at the store, which had a handy map on it! Awesome! So off we headed in search of the Tintin store.

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This is the first major intersection we came to, and it was clearly AWESOME. Shopping is more than just an activity here, it’s a way of life. Speaking of which, there was another awesome condom shop on this corner, so I had to get another picture of the greatest condoms I’ve ever seen.

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I’m not going to lie to you. I now have both a Pikachu condom and a Spider-Man condom, and I have 6 months to use’em. :)

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It was really busy, being Sunday afternoon (I think). Coming up on the right, you can see KIDDY LAND, the first Japanese toy store that I got to visit in Japan. I only spent $250 there.

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Boutiqued all to hell and 7 stories of toys, I was having a little shopping freak-out. How could I go all the way to Japan and not get Doraemon souvenirs?

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The girls’ section was really cool, though very… domestically oriented.

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Much like everywhere in Japan, there was an elaborate Evangelion display, with a life-sized Rei Ayanami doll. It was so cooooool. I found eva stuff in this store that I didn’t find anywhere else. And bought it.

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Evangelion Unit 01 Papercraft. Tyt!

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This is so cute that it makes minimates look like vomit.

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Ebony… and ivory! Living together in perfect, harmony! Side by side in my display case, oh lord, why can’t we?

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Never forget: Hello Kitty is bigger than Jesus, and celebrates way more holidays to boot.

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MOOMIN! There’s a giant Moomin boutique! Three times as big as the last Moomin boutique!

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These pictures are included in the hopes of getting a link back from http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/blog/index.php. Because that’s how I roll. :)

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Madeline!

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My cousin Alison would have totally died.

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Andrew feels a vague sense of unease. Maybe because the Totoro’s were looking at him?

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I had to buy myself a Jiji (Gigi?). So I did. But I mean, they’ve even got a replica of the baked fish dish that she delivers in the rain! LOOK AT THAT.

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So awesome. But I knew we were on our way to the Ghibli museum later in the trip, so I didn’t want to spend all of my ducats up front on Ghibli stuff if it might be available elsewhere, or more officially, or… something. I don’t know. I was just rationalising not spending that much money up front. But. Yeah.

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Yikes.

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You know? Seriously? There was nothing I was looking for that couldn’t find, and a ton of stuff I never even thought I’d find. Anyway.

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(I really like this photo.)

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We headed down the alley off of the main strip towards the Tintin boutique after finally escaping the kick-ass toy store. Even the alleys were cool, pedestrians and scooters and amazing little boutiques.

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Then we got to the TINTIN STORE! Yeah! All I did was freak out and take pictures.

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The original albums in French.

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The Japanese translations! These are really interesting, because they’re printed in the manga digest format, though they keep the original left-to-right orientation.

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Rather than shrinking the art, they decided instead to cut-and-paste the panels and pages to create a thicker, more ‘manga-sized’ expeirence. And in black and white too. I’d be surprised if this particular translation/reformat wasn’t actually handled in France, because it’s pretty-much a note-perfect translation of the stories from one format to another. I picked up one of these for a diehard Tintin fan that we know, and he loved it. Cool beans!

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Life-sized bust of Capt. Haddock, anyone?

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By the time we exited the Tintin store, it was getting dark. Luckily, Harajuku stores open late and the whole area goes all night!

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The outside of the toy store Kiddy Land at night.

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The Dior headquarters. Apparently there’s a fabulous club in there exclusively for the jet-set superstars of Japan. Needless to say, in shorts and a T-shirt I was not invited. Actually, we didn’t even go in.

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A view from the bridge over the main shopping drag.

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The ultra-fabulous flagship Ralph Lauren store.

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The shanty-town that sprung up in front of the ultra-fabulous, flagship Ralph Lauren store. Power to the people!

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Marc. Jacobs.

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Sure, the big names are all over Harajuku, but there are really beautfully designed boutique clothing stores crammed into every square foot of the area we visited.

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Andrew is carrying my bag of toys.

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3 floors of boutique shopping.

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This isn’t affiliated with the video game company Rockstar Games in any way. They just seem to have uh, homaged, the logo…

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This place was tamer than an Old Navy commercial. YOU HAVE A POORLY-NAMED STORE.

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We like the perfectly design graffiti.

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This was Book-Off, and they sold discount manga. 105 yen-400 yen. At this point I’ve been walking for like 7 hours, have three bags of stuff, and? I bought another 20 manga. For like 40 bucks. I bought the two Taiyo Matsumoto artbooks for $8 each. My feet are killing me, after this photo.

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I got laughed at for being a tourist while taking a photo of the gorilla.

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They had so many awesome shoes, and they were all on sale. Problem? Size 11 in Japan is reserved for Sasquatch. But if you’re up to a size 9, mens? The world is your rare-sneakers-from-around-the-world Oyster.

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Mmmmm…

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Then we went for crepes. They were so, so awesome. This is the fake-food crepe display out in front of the crepe stand, to show you how awesome your crepe would be and help you make up your mind.

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By this time I’m falling apart, and I find the street warning message hilarious.

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YOU ARE A CRIMINAL.

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MY DOG IS IN DANGER.

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I am still amazed by how awesome the design can be though.

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I am worse for wear.

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Then a masked hero appears, and heads into the subway. He waves though.

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Then I was shocked by the awesome machine designed to go up and down stairs.

I slept well this evening, surrounded by my day’s purchases. The next morning? Studio Ghibli!

- Christopher


27 Comments on “Japan 2007: Harajuku, Peanuts, Tintin, Moomin, and High Fashion”

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  1. Johnny says:

    Seriously… how did you not go bankrupt there?

  2. Diary of a Mad Natural Historian » Nice Hair! says:

    [...] Yhancik – billions of blistering blue barnacles! There are some Tintin pix in this post – about halfway down. [...]

  3. Naseem says:

    MOOMIN!!!!!!! HUGGGG.

    :) :)

    So awesome! Thanks for sharing! :) :)

  4. Bitter Matt says:

    It’s Grandma’s Herring Pot Pie!! And you weren’t even at Studio Ghibli yet! They DO have everything.

    Is most of this stuff purchased by tourists? I’m having difficulty understanding where people could find room for all of these things, particularly in compact homes and apartments.

  5. arthur dela cruz says:

    I need more Totoros. The three I have are looking mighty lonely, and small.

  6. Jerry says:

    The only thing cooler than a Peanuts store is a Tintin store. ME WANTS!!!!

  7. Jamie Coville says:

    Bruce Pee! That was funny.

    Man, you know how in movies they used to make fun of Japanese people by showing them with cameras taking pictures of everything? Thanks to your visit I suspect Japanese movies will start making fun of Canadians by doing the same thing.

    But don’t stop. :)

  8. Chris says:

    Martzy: Well, we’re still paying off the credit cards. But, and I know this is going to sound strange to anyone who knows me, I exercised a superhuman level of restraint… FOr me. I mean, I still filled a giant suitcase and a giant box with crap.

    Naseem: You’re welcome. :)

    BitterMatt: I think… I think if you’re an otaku, you just buy 1 or 2 things, IP, characters, whatever, you just pick one and buy literally everything. My tastes are pretty multi-disciplinary, which makes for great photos but agonizing purchasing decisions. But someone who’s a Jiji fan from Kiki’s would just buy the 12 different Jiji toys and literally anything that Jiji appeared on, and nothing else. ;)

    ADC: Did you see the price-tag on the big one? I think it’s like $900. No one REALLY needs that who isn’t already super-rich.

    Jerry: I know!

    Jamie: I got laughed at… I think 6 times for taking pictures and being a tourist. That’s not bad for 2 weeks? Heh. Didn’t stop me though. It’s also important to note that Harajuku was only day 5 of 14, and I’d only just broken 1000 photos taken.

    - Christopher

  9. Greg McElhatton says:

    I am fairly convinced that if I ever went to Tokyo? I would go broke. And then some.

    But oh, what a way to go.

  10. Bill Peschel says:

    And I despise modern architecture, but I loooove me these buildings. Maybe it’s the color or the interesting shapes, or they look like humans use them.

    Hmmm, the dollar’s sinking, so it should be getting less expensive to go to Japan, right? As opposed to “oh my GOD it costs WHAT?” expensive.

  11. Scott Dunbier says:

    My God, what a great post. My wife has been sitting here with me oohing and aahing over all the cool stuff. Me too.

  12. James Moar says:

    Chris: this link — http://www.jti.co.jp/sstyle/manners/ad/change/gallery/index.html — has the whole series of those anti-smoking/smoker’s etiquette posters.

    Should’ve visited the Snoopy store when I had the chance. Oh well, next time.

    Bill: it’s the other way round, I’m afraid — falling dollar equals more expensive. On the other hand, I thought a lot of things were actually pretty cheap, though that was travelling from Britain.

  13. zach worton says:

    what the fuck, butcher!!! you went to a tintin store and forgot about me?!?! i’m hurt…hurt…

  14. Pedro Bouça says:

    To be fair, the Tintin store is hardly exclusive to Japan. There is a bunch of them in cities like London or Brussels.

    I am right now in Paris and, while there isn’t a Tintin store here (don’t ask me why), there are LOADS more Tintin stuff avaliable on the many comic stores in the city. Tintin merchandise is all over the place!

    But it’s cool to see that all Tintin books have been translated to japanese. Japan in not receptive at all to foreign comics and it’s surprising to see that the series is able to survive there.

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  15. Chris says:

    Greg: It was sooooooooooo tempting to just go into debt forever, instead of just for a year. :)

    Bill P: The architecture is amazing, the more you see of it the more ridiculous you realize it all is and wonderful. As for $$? If you’re an American, it’s only getting worse and worse for you. As a Canadian? It was AWESOME!

    Scott: Thanks man :). I’m kinda shocked, you’ve never been yourself?

    James: Thanks :)

    Zach: I did… I’ll make it up to ya.

  16. Gothic Lolitas and Goldfish Earings « sans everything says:

    [...] Chris Butcher, general manager of the world’s greatest comic book store, went on a honeymoon in Japan and brought back a series of remarkable photos. Most camara-armed tourists are tempted to go the National Geographic route, becoming amateur ethnographers recording strange folkways. Chris has a different approach: his brings to Japan a retailer’s eye, zooming in on what might be called mass culture quirkiness: fashion trends, storefronts, unexpected packages and odd toys. [...]

  17. Scott Dunbier says:

    I’ve been twice, Chris, but both were whirlwind trips. One was for a WildStorm signing, we were there just two nights! The other time was before I was at WS, as an art dealer, I did a show. Both were great experiences but neither allowed much in the way of sightseeing. But since we read your blog my wife, Amanda, wants to go and spend a week. Which is okay by me, just have to save our pennies.

  18. Arpad says:

    Awsome pictures, I always wanted to ( and I will ) go to Japan oneday, thank you for sharing this amazing experience with us. I am a huge manga and Tin Tin fan , so I was drooling over these pics.
    I visited your other site with the slide show too, my question is are you still putting more pictures on this or the “slide show” site? Or this is it.
    Can we see total 1000 or so pictures ( as you mentioned it) somewhere?
    thanks again

  19. Pedro Bouça says:

    Just one thing I hadn’t noticed when I saw this for the first time. The B&W editions of the Tintin adventures were NOT reformatted for the japanese market. Those were the original adventures before they were reformatted to the larger, color books we know nowadays (on the 40s!).

    Yes, Hergé invented manga! ;-)

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  20. Teresa says:

    We had a big Tintin store here in Auckland, New Zealand but it is gone now :(

    I would seriously buy that whole moomin shop. Lovin’ the moomins!

  21. hinamori amu says:

    AWWWWW!!!!!!! YOUR SOOOOOO LUCKY! YOU GET TO GO TO JAPAN!!! i wish i could go but my moms making me save 1,282 dollars to buy myself a ticket and im still young soooo…………….
    ANYWAYS i love japan there are cool little gadgets there!
    Oh and did you see the toilets?? Theyre sooo cool!

    Sayonara, Hinamori Amu

  22. Charlotte =D says:

    MADELINE?! wasnt expecting that! @-@ still,amazing pics. I got all envious when i saw moomin & totoro! ^-^ thanks!;)

  23. charlotte says:

    ??i went 2 japan in octoeber its soo amazingg but i imagined kiddy land a bit bigger – still its cool?

  24. Japan 2009: Harajuku: Kiddy Land, Tintin Shop at Comics212 says:

  25. Wburger says:

    Amazing blog!! Can you please tell me where in Harajuku the Moomin store is located? I am in Japan and would like to go this week, but can’t seem to find it online THANKYOU!!

  26. Chris says:

    Hey Wburger, the Moomin section was actually in the toy store, Kiddyland. It wasn’t a free-floating store. :)

  27. Huscheli says:

    How could I have lived in Tokyo for a year and never been in that Kiddy Land?! And I was in Harajuku several times D:
    Well, at least I can add that they have a whole store for Evangelion stuff now though.

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