Ah! Finally a post about one of many things we did on our trip to Japan last October! I mentioned on facebook that I'm determined to blog this entire trip, even if it takes me the entire year of 2015. (You can see more timely trip updates via my personal Instagram and my Tokyo/Seoul instagram that I created for our trip while we were there... and while you're on Instagram, check out my Instasale I'm having right now! Lots of cute vintage and new things... I'll be adding more this week.)
So, since there's so MUCH to blog about our trip, I thought I would just dive in somewhere, so this won't be a chronological account by any means, but still lots of candy for your eyes. ; ) Before we went on the trip, I was determined to be prepared, especially when it came to being able to take photos inside various businesses. I absolutely *hate* the awkward exchange of "Can I take photos in here? I have a blog..." and they either say "Sure!" or "No photos!" leaving me feeling chastised. Ha.
I wanted to "get it in writing" via email if they ended up granting me permission. And if they didn't, then at least I would know and I would be able to avoid the awkward exchange in person! Especially if the staff weren't english-speaking. I knew the chances of them speaking English might be higher via email correspondence, since I'm usually talking to someone in the "corporate" environment that is used to dealing with press, etc. Although, there are definitely exceptions to the rule, as I had with another doll store... but more on that later.
So, as you might know, I'm a doll enthusiast and have really become fascinated with the world of Japanese ball-jointed dolls, especially those inspired by anime. So, I did a lot of research on the stores I wanted to visit. One was Azone and luck would have it, they gave me permission to take photos via email! Yay! I showed the staff the email on my phone, but it didn't do me much good because in this instance, the staff did NOT speak english, or very little at that. That said, I of course do not hold that against them! I am in *their* country after all and I don't speak a lick of Japanese. Luckily, I think they felt I was earnest in my attempts to communicate and allowed me to take photos of the doll displays (not the merchandise... which is totally ok, because the doll displays are way more interesting!)
Azone International is located in an area of Tokyo called Akihabara (if you are an anime, doll, figure, video game, electronics, etc. enthusiast, you will spend a lot of time in Akihabara!). This Azone store location is inside a GIANT building that has floors and floors and floors of different kinds of merchandise (this is the way many stores are in Tokyo. Consumerism in this city is cray-cray!) Here is the address if you ever want to visit! Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Sotokanda 1-chome 15th No. 16 Akihabara Radio Kaikan 7F. (And here is their blog.)
Here is how you are greeted when you make your way up on the elevator and the doors open. So cute!! When we went, Tokyo was in FULL Halloween mode! They are apparently even more into Halloween than they are into Christmas. It was seriously so much fun seeing how festive the entire city is during this time. I'd LOVE to go back on actual Halloween! Lifesize doll cut-outs:
Then, the inside! Aaah!
Gorgeous and meticulously arranged vignettes in display cases EVERYWHERE. I went on a photo-taking frenzy as I consumed every little detail that I could. When I went, I was still a newbie when it came to identifying certain dolls. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm pretty sure these below are Obitsu (this is the kind of doll that I got, but more on that later.) These are quite large. Mine is 24in/60cm tall, so these are probably around that size. (Doll pros: if I identify a brand incorrectly, please do let me know!)
These below were in a case towards the back of the store, Obitsu as well, and they are the ones I really, really fell in love with. Beautiful. And I love their anime style faces. These are large as well. I love the incredible attention to detail in the case arrangements and in the craftsmanship of the clothing, props, accessories, etc.
Ok, so these below are much smaller. They are 1/6 scale (the Obitsu are 1/3 scale if I'm not mistaken.) These are actually made by Azone and are called "Pure Neemo" dolls. Again, correct me if I'm mistaken! There were a lot of dolls in this store and no English labels.
More of the large Obitsu, below.
And more of the smaller Pure Neemo dolls. As far as pricing goes, well, no one ever said doll collecting was cheap. ; ) These small dolls will still run you a couple hundred dollars and the outfits are quite expensive, too! I left Japan with a gorgeous NAKED Obitsu b/c after buying the doll, I couldn't afford clothes for her. Ha! So, I'm tasked with sewing clothes for her. I am proud to say that I've actually already sewn one dress!
While I do love the lolita-style dresses on a lot of these dolls, I really loved the more subdued dress below on this Obitsu. How cute is she? Also, the outfits in the first photo of this post - SO cute. Tiny berets!
These dolls below were in the front cases, no doubt because many are popular characters from actual Anime series.
Madoka Magica fans unite!! Aren't they gorgeous?! And GIANT.
There were a few of these dolls, about the size of the 60cm Obitsu. I'm not a fan of these styled faces, but I wanted to document them for you anyway. (these might actually HAVE Obitsu bodies now that I look at them.)