If you find yourself in Tokyo looking for toys, go to Kuramae. If you are looking for some rare long forgotten character that no one else has heard of and you are starting to believe that you may have dreamed it into a half existence…….GO TO KURAMAE. Here you will find wholesaler after wholesaler laden no, bursting with all manner of toys and playful paraphernalia at bargain prices. Traditional toys, ball joint toys, paper toys, masks, fireworks and kites, they are all here.
Here is also the place where anime characters (however rare) live in plastic reality on dusty shelves here just waiting for their doting geeky owner to discover them.
Kuramae is one of those places where I don’t see many confused looking tourists milling about yet. Its streets date back to the Edo period when it housed the rice granaries for the Shogun hence its name ‘kura’ meaning granary and ‘mae’ meaning in front. It is one of those areas that fell behind when the rest of the city was racing forward at breakneck speed and so it has that dowdy look that puts the average person off really exploring the area. Kuramae feels like it’s trapped in a time loop. You can still spot people hand assembling cardboard boxes to sell on and small workshops engaging in traditional crafts. These wholesale toy shops, full of fun things feel disparately forlorn and discouragingly empty of customers. Yet to us, there is a vibe in the air that whispers of resurgence. An energy that is edging its way to the surface and it seems to be attracting young entrepreneurs who are choosing to set up noteworthy businesses here such as KONCENT and of course KAKIMORI (my current favourite stationery shop in the world).