October 1, 2008, by strange coincidence, was both the day that I moved to Fukuoka and the day that Omocha Souko Fukuoka Honten first opened for business.
Fate? I think so.
At the time it opened - and indeed, at the time it will close - Omocha Souko was a store the likes of which this city had never seen before. This was a mega project, the most ambitious toy, comic, game, clothes and general used good store the city had ever seen.
Prior to its opening Maxim City, the company that owns Omocha Souko, had two other locations in town. But this one was different. It was to be the flagship of the entire chain. It wasn`t just going to be a store, but a self-contained entertainment palace. My sorrow at the store`s passing isn`t just because I`ll miss its bargains but because it is without a doubt the most interesting store to just wander through that I have ever seen.
Lets take a little tour just to show what I mean.
Outside you are greeted by one of the two giant TV screens they have constantly broadcasting commercials for the store:
There are three entrances, this being the main one:
On the right as I walked in that day there was a bunch of vinyl albums for sale. Anybody looking for a copy of Richard Valentine`s Come Back Lover? Don`t be shy.Random stuff like that is to be found throughout the store. Just one more thing to love about the place.
The interior of the building is like a maze that you walk around with various passages, rooms and stairways interconnected with each other. The most brilliant part is the fact that the entire place is decorated to look like a post-war retro Showa cityscape with false storefronts everywhere.
It actually looks quite realistic in some places, with laundry even hanging outside the windows:They go all the way up to the ceiling, which is two stories high:
And have a lot of strange details, like this policeman in front of the Koban:
It is the type of place you can easily get lost in, but never be bored with exploring.
The first floor has a bit of everything. The toy section is perhaps the most impressive:
There is also a little shop selling mostly Showa retro style candy:
A little cafe:
The obligatory section dedicated to J-Pop and K-Pop goods:
The used electronics junk section:
And these little toy vending machines that are littered throughout the store:
There is also a sizable used clothing section on the first floor but I`ve never found it to be particularly photogenic.
Upstairs we go!
The gaming section, which takes up about half the space, I have covered here before so I`ll skip that in this post. The rest of the floor is taken up by Pachinko slot machines:
A movie section complete with dedicated VHS cassette tape shelf:
Where you can buy a copy of Dirty Laundry for only 100 yen:
More Pachinko slot machines (I think these were supposed to be the real money makers for them):
And last but not least Manga:
All in all, an impressive array of things. While a lot of other stores offer similar combinations of stuff for sale, I don`t think any of them came close to offering the shopping experience that Omocha Souko did simply because none of them are anywhere near as amibtiously and imaginatively designed and laid out. It is perhaps a bit hard to convey this in words and photos, but perhaps you sense what I am getting at.
Alas it could not last forever. In my next post I`ll examine the possible causes of the downfall of this magnificent store.
- Omocha Souko Part 1: The Greatest Retro Game Store Ever