It was only a few months ago that I felt like I had lost a major part of my life here in Tokyo. Seemingly without warning, a place I held so dearly was ripped out from under my feet, with absolutely no word of its return. The location I'm talking about of course is my absolute favorite store in all of Japan, Village Vanguard, which closed the doors to its flagship Shibuya location just a few months ago. I didn't see it coming at all, and it was purely by chance that I would stumble into the store that fateful night, only to see everything marked for clearance. But good will always prevail, and it's extremely exciting to share that the store I love so much is back and better than ever.
The self-proclaimed 'Exciting Bookstore' graced Japan with its presence in 1998, and has gone on to become a major melting pot of various niche cultures ever since. Offering a little something for everyone, you'll find yourself stumbling between the rows of street fashion, into a section filled to the brim with otaku goods and then tossed out into a field of books. True to its slogan, there really is just something genuinely exciting about this book store, even if it feels like a little bit of a stretch to call it a book store at this point.
Operating in an all-new location on the edge of the world-famous Shibuya Crossing, the store's new location is a two-floor utopia of miscellaneous goods and merchandise. There was an overwhelming feeling of relief and excitement when walking through the store's gorgeous new entryway, with it taking little to no time to feel at home again when navigating the store's maze-like layout. The top floor is where you'll find fans of street culture, assorted goods and people who just want to pick up, ahem, some adult products in their dedicated 'Tenga Village' section. A quick walk down the flight of stairs however, and you'll seemingly find yourself somewhere a little more specialized.
Greeted by an entire palette of colors lining the walls, the bottom floor is an elaborate mix of new-age internet otaku culture, and I absolutely love it. With entire sections dedicated to idol groups such as Dempagumi.inc and Band Ja Naimon!, you're immediately whisked away into this gorgeous blend of internet and reality. Throwbacks to classic 90's toys such as Furby's line the walls, and at the end of the room is an enormous live stage, adorned by a gorgeous painting from Ai Madonna. Whether it's being used for idol groups, bands, or even live painters, this stage stands as a testament to Village Vanguard's commitment to the various artforms that it works so closely to develop.
If you haven't had the opportunity to check out one of Village Vanguard's numerous locations across Japan, the new flagship store is absolutely a place to start. Being one of my favorite locations in Japan, I'm more than glad to share that the Village Vanguard that I knew and loved, is back and better than ever. If you're interested in checking out their new location, you can find it through Google Maps, here. To stay on top of any live events that may be happening, be sure to check out their official Twitter, here.
Welcome back, Village Vanguard Shibuya!