Koenji stores, part 3

A while back I posted about my visit to Koenji, where I dropped by the Kitakore Building as well as Nude n’ Rude.

Well, for the first time by myself I strolled around just enjoying the atmosphere (back in ’09 and ’10 I’d been led around by friends: see pics from my day out in Nakano & Koenji) .

It’s a funky little town with lots of cobbled streets in which to lose yourself, many pedestrian-only, so you don’t need to dodge traffic.  My japanese friends told me it has been home to punks for many years, and there is a plethora of vintage stores to rival Harajuku, so leave a few hours to dawdle and explore.  There is also a covered mall area near the railway station with a load of groovy stores, such as these:

Tatouage

This is an upmarket vintage fashion store, part of the Zool chain – see the Zool shoplist here for a complete rundown of what is becoming a massive empire – this store is called Tatouage by Zool (Purple).  A lot of late 60′s and 70′s stuff is here, along with more modern styles, and helpfully arranged in colour coded sections. Know you like blues? Head to that rack.

Tatouage by Zool, Vintage store Koenji

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Nude n’ Rude Koenji, 2012

Back in 2010 I first wrote about Nude n’ Rude – a goth/punk/fetish/alternative fashion store in Koenji, Tokyo.

I always try to visit Nude n’ Rude as I just love so many of the labels they carry, known to us in the west – like Iron Fist, Kreepsville 666, Lip Service, Demonia etc…as well as other Japanese labels and now their own Nude n’ Rude Couture 2012 line.

Since I was in Koenji recently for Secret Dog, ilil etc, I decided to combine them in the one afternoon shopping trip (along with a few other stores, still to come in future posts).

I wondered what had changed since my last visit a year ago. Peering in the shop windows, I was heartened to see the same kinky, kooky, retina-searing flavour throughout:

Nude n Rude store window [Read more...]

Kitakore Koenji: Dog, ilil, Garter

One of THE hippest conglomeration of Tokyo designer’s dens is the Kitakore Building in Koenji, housing Dog, ilil, Garter, Southpaw (ex-Nincompoop Capacity) and more.

Not the flashy, extravagant, “I’m so money” kind of fashion stores you see lining Omotesando; oh no.  This is cutting edge punk, futuristic, amazingly quirky fashion, as sought out by the likes of Lady Gaga, and worn by the hipsters gracing the pages of street fashion bibles Fashion Snap, Tokyo Street Fashion, Japanese Streets etc.

Though not far from Koenji Station, you could easily walk past Kitakore. There is no advertising campaign about the venue and it is not well known by the average shopper.  In fact, a few years ago when I asked my Japanese goth friends to take me there, they didn’t  know of it!  Mind you, fashionistas and fashion bloggers do; there are more and more posts (like this one) extolling the virtues of the place, so it can no longer really be called “secret”. But mainstream it is not.

Even armed with a map this time around, I had to wander a bit before finding it. On the way I saw some wonderful buildings like this old style house:

Traditional Japanese house in Koenji

If you know to look for a puffer-jacketed mannequin out the front, and if you know the heavily-spiked punk jackets Dog is known for, then you will know Kitakore when you see this:

studded punk jackets in Kitakore Dog shopfront

Walk down the block a little and you can see the signs of the stores:

Kitakore, Garter, Dog, ili

The Garter entrance (below left) is one entrance, or on the main drag next to the stairwell to Southpaw (below right) is the more hidden entrance into the bowels of the building itself:

Garter Kitakore Koenji Kitakore building, stairs to Nincompoop Capacity

From the hidden entrance you walk downstairs, not even sure you should be going there, due to lack of signage. But keep going and you will stumble onto Dog and ilil, much whiter and lighter on the inside than you expect from the outside. (For a FANTASTIC 360 degree view check this site out)

DOG secret store Koenji Dog Kitakore Koenji

LOVE the bright blue leather heavily-studded jacket you can just see hanging on the door in the middle of this pic:

Dog store  Kitakore Koenji

Before even setting eyes on the fashion, the fantastical interiors grab your attention, especially in the case of the store ilil. I found myself very at home with the quirky eyeballs, strange anatomical/taxidermy items and general zaniness.

ilil in Kitakore Koenji

ilil kitakore mannequin 

ili koenji anatomical model

ili koenji kitakore

There ARE actually great jackets & other items to buy; it’s just hard to focus when so much else is going on visually ;)

ilil fashion Koenji Kitakore

I chatted to ilil owner Rachel while I walked around, who remembered Nadia & Cami of Di$count fondly, with whom the Kitakore designers did a collaboration a while back. See “Kita-kore Magik!” for more on that. Rachel, like the other Kitakore peeps, actually designs/creates/repurposes the fashion in a tiny little workspace at the back of the store. I love how Cami of Di$count put it:

It’s a whole experience seeing how the designers make so much from so little. The term ‘hole in the wall’ is pretty much spot on. Even in such a tiny space, the character and passion is overflowing – it’s such an electrifying little building!

Rachel and I chatted upcoming Halloween parties/clubs, but Rachel confided she was being alcohol and late night-free at the mo’, due to training for an upcoming marathon. How refreshingly non-rock n roll!  Ya see kids You can still be at the forefront of sub-cultural fashion and still have a healthy lifestyle :) Anyways, a few more photies before we head off; don’tcha just love the helmet adorned in “gold leaf” from Moet cork wrappers?? Totally inventive.

 Moet helmet, ilil Koenji

Looking out the window just above the jackets rail, I could see that sadly, the gelato coloured lounge setting was no longer present n the rooftop :(  See my post “Cool places in Shimokita and Koenji” for pics and more from my July 2010 visit.

No visit is complete without a troop upstairs to Southpaw, formerly known as Nicompoop Capacity. Honestly, the fashion isn’t my style at all, and it seems ever so slightly daggy secondhand stuff – but my aesthetic isn’t the same as that of japanese vintage-hipster-kids, so what do i know? Frankly, the stairwell going up to the store is more interesting than the interior IMO.

Southpaw Southpaw Kitakore

There are many other really interesting stores in Koenji, and some of these I will feature in an upcoming post. Likewise I’ll post on when I headed to Harajuku to see the other Dog store (amazing!).

For more inspiration/info on Kitakore and it’s occupants, see the links below.

Koenji’s Kitakore Building article from Nippon.com
Style Bubble post Kitakore Kicks 

Garter website
Ilil online shop
ilil tumblr
Kitakore building blog
Kitakore tumblr 

Cool places in Shimokita & Koenji (or how I went looking for ‘Dog’ & found God instead)

While looking at pics from my recent trip and trying to decide what to post, it came to my attention that I still have photos from my July trip last year that I haven’t posted or written about!

One of the things I love most when in Tokyo is just walking around different neighbourhoods with some friends and seeing what we find. And so in late July, I met up with friends Utarou and Aki, and went to Shimokitazawa and Koenji.

Shimokitazawa is one of my fave places in Tokyo, and I’ve written about Shimokita here . 2 weeks ago I attended two gigs at the Shimokita Garden, seeing the Cherry Cokes one night, and 13th Moon the next, so stay tuned for posts on those.

A close-up of my outfit shows the Stigmata corset better (vintage, from Closet Child, back from the time when Kenzo-A was one of the designers). You can *just* see the white ribcage necklace from Destroy-X. Utarou and I are both friends of Amelia, and we both turned up wearing Angelspit/Destroy-X products! The railway station entrance always seems to be under construction – maybe one day it’ll be finished.

 

Firstly we attended the “Footprint” travel photography exhibition held in a Shimokita bookshop/cafe called Free Factory :

The walls were left in their rustic unfinished state, lending a decaying urban loft feel to the place:

Here’s the lovely Utarou, singer of Japanese industrial/cyberpunk band Baal (see my Baal post for more), wearing an Angelspit tank top. Alas, while leaning forward to talk to her while having coffee, my ribcage necklace snapped! Woe..

 

The Free Factory is a groovy place to hang out, and a lot more atmospheric than the ubiquitous chain coffee houses you see scattered about Tokyo. It often has interesting exhibitions too, so if you’re in Shimo, check it out. See the Free Factory website for more.

Then it was off to explore the many intriguing shops in Shimokita. There are a  lot of vintage shops nestled alongside boutiques, cafes, restaurants, bargain shops, chemists etc, so it’s always fun to get lost in the alleyways. One of my faves is the “Grown Up Tabatha” hat shop (almost opposite which is the Shimokita Garden live house)

Note the snapped necklace with only upper ribcage left :(      Now, Utarou’s turn to pose!

Novelty stores sell such essentials as rubber piglets and chickens, just ripe for the squeezing, with hilarious noises ensuing:

 

Shopping is tiring work, so we had to stop off for some lunch (and no, obvs early afternoon isn’t too early for beer!)

No matter what I order (and I did leave the raw egg alone)…

I always end up getting food envy, and wish I’d ordered what my friend ordered…know the feeling?

Finally we high-tail it over to Koenji, where we just HAVE to pop into Nude n’ Rude, as Aki and Utarou are good friends with Lilian, the owner:

For more info, see my Nude n’ Rude post here.

Then it was time to go and look for the elusive “Dog” store in the Kita Kore building. My friends didn’t know about it, and so we went searching only armed with a map. We finally spied the signatory puffer jackets/suits hanging near the building, and I went inside the decrepit Kita Kore building to have a look…but alas, Dog was closed! Only open on weekends – dang!

Ah well, the nearby Nincompoop Capacity shop was open, so up the stairs we went to investigate, spotting some psychedelic artwork on the wall on the way up:

 

At the top of the landing, one could see an amazing gelato-coloured lounge setting on the rooftop (complete with oversized ice-cream cone – why?), as well as numerous death-trap wiring scenarios:

And then I found God.

Heh, well, I just wanted to write that. The word “God” was attached to the door – apparently used as a clothes hanger.

Inside was an interestingly curated and fairly punk collection of clothing – note the teddy bears on the kimono-looking jacket on the door, inches away from a skull print.   There was a gorgeous little dog inside too, so I had to have a little pat and show some puppy love <3

I was polite & didn’t take pics inside…but Made with Japan went at the end of the year and interviewed the Nincompoop Capacity designers – go have a read! Or have a look at the Nincompoop Capacity website.

So I failed spectacularly to check out Dog, and lacked time on this last visit. One for 2012, I guess!

I know Tokyo Telephone will be featuring the store soon in their blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Have you managed to see Dog, whether the Koenji or Harajuku store?

Funny strange or funny haha? Pics from Japan

Looking back through my Japan pictures, I found a few amusing ones from Shinjuku & Koenji that don’t really fit into a post. Here is my Sunday night chuckle spot.

A bit of wall motivation for the dispirited pedestrian on the way to work, perhaps

(or is it advising you to ditch your little ones if you want to get ahead?)
 
Yum, I think I’ll have what this next place is selling – it’s described so eloquently…
Is this a Doggie Welfare organisation? I looked up and laughed at this supreme cuteness in the midst of the urban jungle. It’s in Koenji (around the corner from punk store Nude n Rude)