Imagine taking the coolest aspects of Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, and hmm.. Home Depot(?), throw em together, and weed out anything really mundane. Now have lots of interactive displays, spread everything out onto 7 floors (each with its own checkout line unfortunately), and turn it Japanese. Next, put the store in downtown Tokyo (right by the Shinjuku station), and you have my favorite store in all of Tokyo.
Tokyu Hands: Creative Life Store.
My friend Yuichiro (we call him Woody, don’t ask) took me here about 4 or 5 years ago, and I’ve been craving it (and Ippudo ramen) ever since. Its a very fun place, with lots of different types of appeal.
On the first floor I really liked the Let’s Play TV demonstrations, featuring 80s classic arcade hits like Xevious and Mappy (ok, so the premise and storylines weren’t as polished as today’s games, but you could pick up a controller and play the damn thing without learning the 14-button sequence to get your guy to jump!). In the US we have some retro TV-based gaming systems, but these seemed like a bit more fun, I think because they were just less polished-looking.
Also featured on the first floor was a huge section devoted to customizing your cell phone, with stickers, studs, jewels, beads, and I think even raw fish. There were also a few interesting carrying cases for iPod nanos in the mix.
Other highlights in the ‘bizarre gizmo’ section included: ifish and idog (some type of music-reactive iPod accessory), about a dozen different digital Sudoku games, and something called Cube World, which really just seemed like a collosal waste of money for the pure sake of LCD screens… ifish was my favorite piece of silliness.
On the remaining floors were other treasures, ranging from blocks of wood for your carving needs, small furniture, cooking supplies, and just about any type of gadget or gizmo related to any hobby or pastime you may have. I spent some time looking through travel gadgetry, but unfortunately didn’t find anything particularly new to waste money on.
Got a few days in Tokyo? Sure, go to Akihabara and Yodabashi, but you pretty much know what you are going to see there. Head to Tokyu Hands for a lot more fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to comparison shop electronic toothbrushes?
I love the iFish box: “Touch a lot!” “Healing music!” Sounds, uh, very practical. I saw the iDog not so long ago at a US Sharper Image. The yard stick by which all others in this space (small, minimalist design, electronic, white plastic animals?) are measured is the Nabaztag. It’s a blinking rabbit with moving ear that reads your RSS feeds and email via WiFi!
I worked in Hiroshima some years ago and came across Tokyu Hands. I was fascinated by it and found myself buying items I would have never thought to purchase! A great store!