Hi there all, After two weeks in the land of the rising sun I have return. (That goes for those who do not already know.)
Its been crazy for me as I have so many things to show yet so little time to blog and do everything. Just today, I have also been to the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention and that is not all that I will have plan for the craziness of my life so far.
In any case, I shall start with the Tokyo Review of what I have been doing and pretty much show you where to go and what to do if you are a modeller or model kit enthusiast.
Unfortunately for Tabletop gaming or Warhammer fantasy, it is pretty hard to find anything around Tokyo area and I am not sure if there is even an interest or a market there. Either that, or it is too remote or unknown in the mainstream society of Japan for me to know.
First of all, in terms of model kits, Japan is one of the major places in Asia to get really great model kits. With brands like Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima, Bandai and Pit-Road. It is a major centre that has a strong model kit industry with these major manufacturers. The only other big manufacturer of model kit would be the Dragon Brand which is based in Hong Kong.
So first and foremost, if you were traveling in Asia, based on where model kit brands originated from, Japan would be leading in terms of brands. However, even in the great labyrinth of Japan's capital, Tokyo, Model kits aren't really the biggest "in" thing for teenagers and young adults
As such, don't expect to get your armor/airplanes/warships in your nearest department stores.
You won't find it in the common street shops too. But of course, there are a lot of shops with model kits around Tokyo if you know your way around.
Also known as Akihabara Electric Town, it is an area just 5 mins off Tokyo Metro Station. For those living or residing in accommodations near Shin-juku or Shibuya, it will take u a lil longer to get there through connecting subway stations. Take note: This place is specially known for its electronics, computer, anime and otaku goods.
Some of you might be wondering how does model kit fit into the categories of what this place is known for. Model Kits are categorizes under otaku goods. The word Otaku in Japanese terms would mean someone who has an "obsessive interest" in something.
While it may seem a bit extreme to term Modellers as Otakus, it is normally used to describe people who are into anime and cosplaying. However, in modern Japanese slang, Otaku just literally means a fan of a particular theme or hobby interest. So Modellers are pretty much Model Kit Otakus.
When you emerge from the Akihabara Subway station, it is easy to get lost and disorientated. However, I am pretty much suffering that effect every time I arrive in a new area in Tokyo.
It doesn't really help when everything is in Japanese. Thankfully for me, My gal is able to communicate in Japanese and get our way around. However, because this isn't really a hobby that she is familiar with, I had to also look out for the military model kits too. But fret not, as it isn't really that hard to find model kits once you explore the area a lil bit.
A junction in Akihabara.
It is common to see many electric stores as u walk the streets of Akihabara. It is also not surprising to see Japanese girls advertising for their Cafe which are called Maid Cafes. Akihabara is known place to have Maid Cafe, which sort of became a trend in Japan.
It wasn't long before we were able to locate several hobby shops. These hobby shops do vary in sizes. Some could be several stories in size or just one small shop like the one above. Your best shot is to go to those big ones as most of the small shops usually sell things that are more popular and common like PVC Anime figures, Cars and Gundam Related type of model kits.
Be sure to look out for words like 戦車 which means Tanks or Armoured Vehicles, 飛行機 which would be Airplanes and Fighter jets, 戦艦 which would mean warships. In general though, Model kits are represented by the kanji words "模型".
Most of the big hobby shops have sorted their toys and model kits into categories, in which they dedicate one level for each type. Therefore, Gundam would have one level, Military model kits would have one level, Anime stuff would have one level and Railway trains would have one too. (These would be the main categories in the big hobby shop)
Once you locate found these big hobby shops, you will realise that their array and variety of model kits are huge. While it is predominantly Japanese brands, you can still see a sizeable amount of other model kit manufacturers from China (Dragon) to American and European (Revell).
As my main model collection being 1/700 modern warships, they are not say the biggest mainstay of the model kit industry. So because of that you would think that these hobby shops like the ones in my home country, would not have much.
But I was dead wrong, on the contrary, they have a huge stash. Needless to say, it is predominantly Modern JMSDF naval ships but there are also US and Russian Modern Naval warships here and there.
One of the big hobby stores with its array of just solely Modern Naval ships.
With Military model-kit making being a very very niche hobby in the world today, I usually have to resort to buying my kits online. Worse yet, it is almost very rare now for me to actually pick out a kit that I mean to build from a retailer.
TamTam Hobby Shop, (www.hs-tamtam.jp) Military Models Level
However somehow, I was able to get the specific model warship that just got release from a big hobby shop by the name of Tam Tam in Akihabara. The irony is that the Model Kit was a Dragon Model kit (Not Japanese) that just only got release recently.
it is the 1/700 Type 45 Daring Class Destroyer from UK and they had it. While it took us a few searches from various model shop, I was surprise to find it easily.
I must point out that this example goes to show how huge the collection of model kits that each of these Big Model shops have in terms of variety. If it were armor or planes, they have a very good stock of many brands so you need not worry much.
Gundam still seems to be a real big thing with regards to easy model kit making and it still has a big impact on Japanese Modern culture. I will be elaborating about Gundam even further on my next post of my Japan trip with relation to Toyconstruct. But as my pictures show, Akihabara has many hobby related stuff around that area and it ranges from Robots to Model Kits to even..
Akihabara have shops selling shit loads of BB guns that look almost as real as the real guns. Obviously they cost quite a lot to get.. and its a pity i can't really buy and bring this back to singapore. Firstly, U can't really bring this on the plane..be it through your check-in luggage or on-board the flight. Secondly, Singapore bans such items and therefore it is impossible for me to collect such weaponry.
Lastly, some of these hobby shops sell loads of mini-toys. These mini-toys are collected from japanese candy boxes that feature some array of toy collectibles in it. Usually, people would buy these candy product to get a Randomised toy collectible in it.
As such, hobby shops use these gimmick to their own benefit. These hobby shops would buy a whole batch of candy boxes that come with some sort of toy collectible and take out the toy to sell it seperately from the candy box (usually at a more expensive price to gain profits). However, this benefits the consumer as they can choose what mini toy they want to get without having to go through buying loads of candy box and not getting a specific mini toy they want.
Toys Toys Toys.. Akihabara is filled with niche products and toys. So if you are one who is interested in buying model kits and anything that I have shown in Japan, Akihabara would be ur first choice place to go to do some Retail Shopping!!
That's it for now. Next entry will be part 2 of hobby stuff in Japan.
For more pics on my journey in Akihabara, Check out my facebook album at