I passed a camera store in Tokyo the other day and saw this wonderful “gachapon”, toy vending machine for Pentax lovers! It’s a very cute miniature version of the famous and colorful Pentax K DSLRs series. A couple of coins, a twist of the lever and you too can have your very own cell phone strap Pentax! Collect all 15!
As I promised yesterday, here are some harder photos! Hand made toys made entirely out of wood blocks! I saw these a couple of years ago at the biannual Design Festa. Unfortunately, I lost all my notes from that event and so I have no idea of the identity behind the maker of these fantastic toys. The figures are blocky representations, fully posable, of figures from Japanese mythology and buddhistic heroes and demons. The animal figures on the other hand, strike me as either panda bears or ground sloths! Either way, they are fabulous and I just love to see the work of people as skilled as this. Any information on the maker is gladly received, in the comments section please!
Another intriguing and totally unexpected find at last years Design Festa! Shinkairyuh is the name of a project by a Japanese designer/maker who tinkers up these wonderful little mechanical toys in his spare time. There is an elaborate back story to his creations, which is basically advanced models, complete with moving parts, electronic and lights made in plastic and metal. I instantly thought of Deep Sea Steampunk when I saw it, and also remembered the Disney Sea underwater rides. If you want to see more, he has a site here. The man is a wonderful scratch builder of toys! I didn’t want to photograph all the hidden gems, moving parts and light of these models, so you’ll have to try and see it for yourself!
Last year I visited a toy and character goods collection/exhibition in the Spiral Cafe, in Aoyama right between Shibuya and Omotesando here in Tokyo. Basically a huge collection of special edition toys by world famous Japanese toy designers and creators. Since this industry is one of Japan’s top cultural exports I wasn’t surprised to see an entire gallery dedicated to toys. Not that it hasn’t been done before though.
Photography wasn’t allowed but there were no signs and I was the bad boy and pretended no to know. I managed to sneak a shot of the rather impressive gift shop at the end of the exhibition! Heaven for toy collectors I guess!
Spiral Cafe is a pretty decent lunch restaurant/gallery space in a great spot. The food isn’t bad and for this area, very cheap. So if you’re tourists on a budget but still want a nice meal out, this is a good place to go.