Denden Town (Nipponbashi)

Ah, the days before social distancing.. Henceforth referred to as the ‘beforetimes’.  It’s hard to remember back to a time when every thing was normal and I didn’t bat an eye at Jack’s usual behavior of licking door knobs.   Wait, I think that was two weeks ago.  As I said, time is blurry in the aftertimes.  Before we went in to total lock down, we did manage to go explore Denden town in Nipponbashi a bit. It’s like the Akihabara of Osaka, an open-24-hours-a-day carnival of electronics stores, internet cafes, and maid bars (I’m told).

Each year, they hold a street festival in March (I’m guessing that’s on hold). But look at this pre-social distancing extravaganza!

Nipponbashi Street Festival – Clearly not 6′ apart

I had some DIY electronics projects that were on my to do list for forever and the only place to get the stuff was in Denden town, so off we went!  We took the train to Namba and walked.  Sadly it started gushing rain.  I was undeterred, and thankfully Lori and the kids persevered.

Some soggy photos of the walk.  Rainy scenes are always neat and remind me of Bladerunner. And if you haven’t seen, Semi trucks in Japan open up on the side, which is much easier to load and unload on the streets. This doesn’t matter to the story, just wanted to point that out. As we’re walking though, the rain picks up and starts getting pretty dark and windy, and generally quite unpleasant. As we walk down one side street, we saw some furniture tossed out the curb and a stack of what looked like LP’s.  Investigation ensued.  When I got closer I saw someone had tossed out an entire stack (like 3 feet tall) of laserdics 🙁  I don’t collect them, nor do I have an old laserdisc player, but I know there are people that do, and this seemed like such a terrible waste.  Here they were getting soggy and ruined, next stop landfill.  If the person dumping it knew about ebay they could have probably made some not insignificant change. Was quite sad we didn’t have a car or was on my bike or I would have saved them.. I tell myself now they were slathered in coronavirus to ease the pain.

I’m still crying on the inside and some on the outside.

As we get to the place, the sun is going down and lights are coming on, putting us more firmly in rainy the Bladerunner motif.  The parts I was looking for were in a neat little shop spread across a few floors. Apparently I didn’t take any pictures, but just imagine a lot of little lights and wires and doodads in little bags (fun!).

As we are headed back to the train, the kids were somehow able to notice the subtle, 50′ tall, bright red and yellow sign reading “KIDS LAND” and were, shall we say.. intrigued. I thought “fantastic, another multi-level shop full of over priced stuffed Pokemon and Gotchapong machines, with LED lights at ‘surface of the Sun’ level brightness,  looping the same BGM music that repeats every 30 seconds, accompanied with someone yelling announcements over the PA every minute” (Actually that’s about 80% of the stores in Japan).  But it was also still pouring rain and freezing so we were happy to get out of the weather.

20200401_193407.resizedIronically enough, the first floor of KIDS LAND!!! was.. well it was over priced pokemon stuffies and gotchapong machines, but that’s really just the way averages work.  I pry them away from the first floor to the second with promises [LIES] of more Pokemon elsewhere.

This place is a Joshin, which we have one by the house too, it’s very much like Best Buy.  Some cool stuff, but you know walking through it you can get better deals online, so I don’t typically look around too much.  This one was a different beast entirely though, as it’s all hobbies.  I was unprepared for the onslaught of things I didn’t know about that I have to buy now.

The Second floor was models and cars:

Including some cars and models made out paper.  (PAPER).

I have a couple of plastic models still in the closet waiting to be built/finished.. Maybe someday when it’s raining,..  and I don’t know..  when we were on some sort of government mandated stay at home policy, I might get to it. But only really likely if the internet goes down too.

Then we see the remote control cars area – A big track for “miniyonku”, or Mini 4WD racing.  It’s like slot cars but a walled track instead of a slot.  The cars are pretty cheap to, so it seems like a more affordable hobby for the kids to get in to, moreso than the big R/C cars (But like most hobbies in Japan, it gets turned up to ’11’ fast). I see these in our future, with a whole-apartment DIY track.

Then on the same level was the real R/C Cars.  I remember these in catalogs and had friends that were really in to it.  I am quite sure that if there was a store like this where we grew up, I would have lot less money.

The kids at this point were doing a wonderful job of obliging me on my memory lane journey but I could see they were losing interest, and when this happens I know the situation for everyone involved can rapidly decline.  So we head up to the model Trains floor.  I was.. impressed with the selection.  You have to sort of understand the hobbyist mindset in Japan. As I eluded to above at being turned up to 11, it’s just a thing in Japan from what I’ve seen where if someone is in to something, they are REALLY in to that something. A walk through Yodobashi Camera’s camera section drives that point home quick. There’s not a shelf or end-cap of camera bags, there’s no less than 5 rows full of camera bags.  Looking for a tripod? Here’s about 70 to choose from!  It’s an all-in mentality that must be respected and feared.

Jack does love Trains still, so he was quite happy to browse around, but I was just fascinated by how deep the selection, and thus, the hobbyists desire, goes.

Visiting some old friends:


But again, the depth and detail is pretty staggering.  Want some sun bathers for your scale model landscape?  Got it!  Want some restaurant workers? Got it!  Want to painstakingly add some 1mm by 3mm time-table stickers to your model trains?  Got it, got it, got it!

Even some Castles and landmarks, should you really want to impress your friends!

After that I think we exhausted the kids and ourselves, so it was time to get out of there.  I was sorely tempted to get a new model to put together, maybe a 280zx or Skyline,  but amazingly resisted since I’ve still got a couple I have yet to finish.  But soon as that’s done we’ll be back to this wallet graveyard, that’s for sure.


3 thoughts on “Denden Town (Nipponbashi)

      1. Currently on a quest to so some home automation, everything in Japan has an infrared remote it seems, so we have scores of them. Need to make something that will control it all. The Logitech Harmony stuff is neat but for some reason 3 or 4x the cost here. So, DIY 🙂

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