Friday, 5 June 2015

Japan Photo Spectacular:
On (Nakano) Broadway.

Located within what I assume to be a post-war multi-story shopping arcade in the Nakano ward on the west side of Tokyo, Nakano Broadway probably ranks as one of my favourite places on earth.

An otaku retail paradise, entirely filled with what Wikipedia describes as “subculture speciality shops” (many of them under the umbrella of the ‘Mandrake’ group) Broadway is basically Japan’s mecca for collectors and connoisseurs of every kind of 20th century pop culture memorabilia under the sun, whilst also offering a secondary function as a breathtaking museum of such material for those of us who lack both the knowledge and financial resources to deal, haggle and hoard like true nerds.

As a non-Japanese speaking gaijin and general pop culture fanatic, it is difficult to express the simultaneous feelings of exhilaration and frustration that I experienced whilst exploring some of Nakano’s numerous manga, magazine and paperback fiction emporiums.

Put it this way: when we, as (presumably) Western fans of the kind of thing I cover on this blog, visit a comics shop or second hand bookshop, we can enjoy pulling things off the shelves, having a look at what’s available, and be generally satisfied that we’re broadly familiar with the range and nature of stuff on offer. Japan though is a whole other world: an immeasurably vast ocean of entirely new stuff that we’ve never seen before and will likely never see again, eye-catching imagery and vivid, beautiful images jumping out at us wherever we look, offering many entire lifetimes’ worth of narrative and artistic rabbit holes for us to fall down and lose ourselves within. But the cruel reality of the language barrier is always present – a continual reminder that, barring the possibility of putting all other aspects of our lives on hold to undertake years of intensive study, these worlds are forever closed to us.

(My apologies for the reflections and blurriness present in some of the photos that follow; most of the Nakano shops take a dim view of photography, so my shots were generally taken as quickly and covertly as possible.)

Printed matter aside, one of the chief money-spinners for Nakano Broadway is, inevitably, that of toys, action figures, model kits and other miscellaneous three dimensional franchise memorabilia. As someone who is largely ignorant of this world, I can’t comment on the pricing, rarity or variety of the selection on offer, but I can at least confirm that it was pretty nice to look at, as the shots below will hopefully verify.

Though movie memorabilia plays a comparatively small role in Nakano Broadway’s overall scheme, there is still a lot of great stuff for Japan pop cinema enthusiasts to gawp at, including, to my delight, a huge number of original Toei and Nikkatsu posters, most of them on sale for a far more reasonable amount than I might have imagined. (As I still had about two weeks of nomadic travel around Japan ahead of me at this stage of my visit, can I just say, thank god for Pringles tubes.)

Left: Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs (1974), Right: Female Convict Scorpion: Prisoner # 701 (1971).

A publicity shot of Reiko Oshida in Toei’s Delinquent Girl Boss series, buried amid a pack of random lobby cards and publicity material.

This glossy Reiko Ike photo-book came with a pretty hefty price-tag.

One of the movies Nikkatsu produced for Group Sounds band The Spiders.

No idea what these ones are – any guesses?

Meiko Kaji poster sale – this week only!

Left: Super Gun Lady (1979), Right: Golgo 13: Nine Headed Dragon (1977).

And finally: the unusual painted poster for Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodthirsty Doll (1969), as currently displayed back home in our London flat.


DrSenbei said...

The Mystery Posters are for "Ah!! Hana no Oh-endan" (嗚呼!!花の応援団), a racy gag manga adapted for the screen by Roman Porno director Sono Chusei. Haven't seen the film or the manga but with art like this it has to be pretty good:

Ben said...

Arigato, Dr Senbei!