Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Johnny's Stores

Hey there everyone! It's getting kind of late here and I still have homework, so this post won't be very long, but I thought I should post a description of what I affectionately term the "Johnnys Stores" of Harajuku. If you come to Japan and no any idols, be they singers or actors or talents or whatever, I encourage you to at least go in one of these places, these 'Johnny Stores,' just for the experience. The only place I've found them is in the Takeshita Street of Harajuku (directly in front of the station). Typically these stores are either on the second floor or the basement of other shops, and they are so particular, you know you've found one the second you see the sign, simply because you look up and see Arashi's faces, or Yamapi's face, Tohoshinki, even X-Japan's Hide, staring down at you from mini posters, trying to coax you inside. I've been in two of these said shops, one actually strictly being a Johnnys shop, where in glass cases, are goods categorized by band, starting from the earlier Tokio, SMAP, and Kinki Kids, making their way around to KATTUN and Hey!Say!Jump, with all the Johnnys boys being represented in some capacity. That store actually had gift bags with the bands names on them, phone straps, DVDs and CDs of course, and pictures, as well as photo books and random other merchandise. The second I went into was far more enthralling and far more bizarre. You go down a flight of dangerously steep stairs to a basement, and as soon as you walk in, you are bombarded with faces of all kinds. From floor to ceiling, the shop (about the size of a large master bathroom), is completely covered with 4x6 candid photos of Japanese and Korean idols. I instantly found my way to the Jrock section where I found an alice nine fan I wanted, then made my way around the rest of the shop. The Johnnys bands were clustered together of course, the Jrockers together, the Korean corner (Ryu Siwon, Bae Yong Joon, DBSK, etc.), and then other idols and talents as well. From the ceiling are hanging fans with various boys' faces on them, and on the pillars at various places, hang laminated mini-posters the size of a large place mat that are hanging on a metal chain like keys on a keychain. What made the place even more interesting, is how you buy things. First of all, everything was REALLY cheap, with a fan being about $4, and the mini posters being about the same, whereas a regular picture might cost a dollar or so. Once you've found something you like, you take a pen and a blank slip of paper hanging in baskets around the edge of the room, and you find the code on whatever it is you're wanting to buy (usually written across the middle of it in permanent marker. You write all the codes down on the slip of paper, then proceed to the back of the store where there is a tiny hole cut out of the wall of pictures, about the size of a microwave, and easy to miss. You hand your slip of paper to the lady beyond (she can't see you, you can't see her), and she goes to look up your stuff. While she's bagging it, she calls out the total and you put your money in the tray in the window and take your stuff. All very anonymous. I, of course, got an armband, a fan and two posters of Alice Nine, and I know that I'll eventually be going back for more. Anyways, that's all for now. I'll post again as soon as I can!

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