Hana Chouchin @ Higashinomon

After visiting Niō-mon, I sauntered eastbound, leaving Zenkō-ji behind. Tiny snow flakes were dancing in the afternoon sunshine and I could see my breath rising like mist in the air. The street leading towards Zenkō-ji Shita station was sloping downward and icy, therefore, I trod tentatively with a mincing gait.
Then, I came across a half-opened threshold with an easel, displaying a shop sign “Hana Chouchin”…

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From the door way, I could see bookshelves filled with intriguing looking books and prints. So I entered the shop, uttering ‘Gomenkidasai!’ – ‘Hello, is anybody there?’
Upon hearing my voice, an old lady appeared from behind the Shouji-sliding door and greeted me with a warm smile.

The shop was an Aladdin’s cave for retro toy fans and vintage print collectors. The lady explained to me that most of the vintage books and prints were her father’s and they were passed down to her upon his death.
I kneeled down in front of the shelf and flicked through them. Despite their old age, they had no musty smell of old prints and the conditions were very good.
Then, another old lady emerged from behind the door, holding a cup of coffee for me. Those two old ladies turned out to be sisters and were running the shop together.
The latter lady used to work for a children’s book department and the items on sale were her collection which accumulated over the years…

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Oh, I do remember them!
I spotted some of my favourite stories straightaway amongst the books on display…

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The shop was overflowing with old-fashioned toys and playthings made from timber, fabric & paper…

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These toys were uncomplicated and tangible yet sure to fuel a child’s endless imagination and creativity…

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This shelf was laden with traditional toys which generations of Japanese children played with them during New Years holiday. Kites with samurai warriors, card games with old-style illustrations, a Hagoita – Japanese badminton with a wooden rackets & shuttlecock, retro comic books…

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The shop was a treasure trove for children and children at heart. For grown-ups, it would be a reunion with childhood memories. And for real-time children, it would be an eye-opening experience…

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The sisters explained that they had no intention of starting the business when they initially rented this space. They needed some room to sort out their overflowing collection of old books and toys. However, the property they rented used to be a shop and gave them an idea that they could start a book/toy shop for local people…

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At the time of my visit, the shop’s open time was limited to weekend only and the shop had no website. However, it is definitely well worth seeking out this discreet gem near Zenkō-ji…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

6 thoughts on “Hana Chouchin @ Higashinomon

  1. I could spend hours in a store like this, I just love looking at old children’s books! And is that a Milky candy girl clock on one of the shelves? I would buy that in a heartbeat!

    • I am very sorry for not replying sooner! My mum wanted me to pay her a 100 percent attention to her while I was with her so I had less time to check on my blog 😓
      The shop was really sweet & the old ladies were charming. I was so happy to discover that shops with more personality started to grow in Nagano after years of recession. Let’s hope they will take up proper roots and prosper…

    • I know! The shop was like a time capsule. Those old ladies were so passionate about nostalgic toys and picture books. I hope they will stay open for local children and parents for many years to come. 😄

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