Friday, 17 January 2014

Trip Day 7 Ikebukuro Closet Child or Bust

The next day was a Saturday, and although I still wasn’t feeling great I at least wanted to try going out for lunch (since I had very little food at the hostel) and maybe shopping somewhere if I felt up to it. So I decided to head out to Ikebukuro for some cheap, simple food and to perhaps look for their infamous branch of the second hand gothic and lolita store Closet Child. I had other plans for Ikebukuro this trip, such as exploring the Sunshine 60 shopping centre and revisiting otome road (a cluster of shops intended for female otaku, particularly the kind that like to read boys love or yaoi comics), but I figured I would see how I felt after Closet Child.

A train ride later I found myself at Ikebukuro. The main shopping area, especially Sunshine 60 street, is full of arcades and cutesy shops, making it a great date destination. Today was no exception to this and I saw many young couples wandering the shops and arcades together in their school uniforms (Many Japanese schools have a half day of school on Saturdays, making Saturday afternoon the perfect time to meet your date). Then outside one of the arcades I saw something that made me squeal like a little girl:

RILAKKUMA!!! Rilakkuma is a character originally from a children’s book whose name (and personality) are based on the words ‘relax’ and ‘bear’. He is quite popular in Japan and many people like to collect merchandise of him in a similar manner to those who collect Hello Kitty. I have a bit of Rilakkuma merchandise, as I saw him on my first trip to Japan and for reasons not entirely clear to me I just find him unbearably adorable. His little costumed form waddled around waving at people with his tiny hands. He had help from a girl in her twenties wearing tiny Rilakkuma ears and reminding people to wait patiently for their turn with him. I watched as sweetly dressed teenagers and tiny children alike went up to hug him or take photos with him, all the while trying my best not to squeal like a fangirl or spontaneously start hugging every one the area from the cuteness. Thankfully I was able to keep my ridiculousness to myself for the most part, went over and gave him a hug, then left other fans to coo over him while I looked for lunch. As I was still a bit ill I picked one of the various western pasta places and ordered something plain. As it was an underground restaurant it was quite noisy, but I was able to eat quickly and head back out to find Closet Child.

This part was a little interesting, as the directions I found online kept seeming to point to a place where there was no Closet Child to be seen! I walked up and down Sunshine 60 for a while, utterly perplexed by where else this map could be referring to, before sitting down with my phone’s internet browser to clarify my information. Eventually I was able to deduce that the store had moved a while ago and head off in the right direction, but not before wasting a fair bit of time. My advice: if you’re ever looking for this store, try La Carmina’s most recent directions.

Finally, I reached it. The store, much like some other Closet Childs, had several themed sections with lolita clothing, gothic clothing and Vivienne Westwood second hand, and I let myself slowly have a good browse of all of them. Most of the sections in Ikebukuro are fairly small and cramped, but as promised by my research, this place gets far less foot traffic and leaves better stock undiscovered for much longer. Searching through the full racks was difficult, but rewarding. I was able to find several items that I don’t think I could have at other stores, but managed to hold my shopaholic spirit in check I think mostly because I was too tired to try more clothes! 

Once I had made a couple of purchases it had become clear that I was too tired and still too sick to continue exploring Ikebukuro that day. So with a heavy heart I headed back to the hostel, stopping at the 7-11 to grab one of their suprisingly decent reheatable meals for dinner later, and spent the afternoon and evening sleeping and watching tv. 

I held out hope that my resting would give me better stamina the next day. Tune in next time to find out if it worked!

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