Tokyo Character Street, Ichiban Gai @ Tokyo Station

After completing my most important task at Jinbōchō, we headed back to Tokyo Station.
Adjoining to Tokyo Station was a subterranean shopping district called Tokyo-eki 1bangai (東京駅一番街) – First Avenue Tokyo Station. The area used to be known as Tokyo Meitengai (東京名店街) – Tokyo Best Shopping Town, however, it was redeveloped and rechristened in 2005.
The district covers 73,253m² and is occupied by more than 100 shops.

The most popular arcade was undoubtedly Tokyo Character Street (東京キャラクターストリート)…

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The arcade was lined with 14 shops each dedicated to well-known popular characters.

A Rilakkuma shop…

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Rilakkuma (リラックマ) , the name was made from an English word “relax” and a Japanese word “kuma” (meaning a bear) combined, it was a character designed by Aki Kondo, produced by San-X in 2003. The character was described as “huge hits in Japan” by The New York Times and voted as the fifth popular character in Japan in 2010…

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The items on sale were sweets, stationary, stuffed toys, smartphone straps, handkerchieves, etc. They were so numerous, nearing spilling out from the shelves.

And a Hello Kitty shop…

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Personally, I am not a fan of this world-famous kitten. I can’t explain why but this character has never appealed to me, and I find her blank expression rather creepy.
Anyway, I checked the shop from outside only.

This shop, Donguri Garden, mum & I liked the best in the arcade…

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Donguri meant “acorn” and the shop was specialised in Studio Ghibli merchandise. Each famous character created by Mr.Miyazaki was employed to grace every adorable item on the shelves.

Then, there was a row of antenna shops run by Japanese TV stations.

Fuji TV (フジテレビ)…

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Sadly, I couldn’t make myself very knowledgeable about every Japanese TV programmes during a mere 3-weeks stay. Therefore, many of the characters didn’t make much sense to me…

TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) store…

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I had learnt that this Hanzawa Naoki (半沢直樹) featured at the front was a very popular TV series of 2013. The drama unfolded as a protagonist, Naoki Hanzawa, a banker, struggled against his oppressive superiors at Tokyo Chuo Bank. The show proved to be the most watched programme in the past two decades, recording 42.2% viewing rate for the final episode.

Nittere-ya (日テレ屋), Nippon TV shop…

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Antenna shop as a concept is to provide opportunities to test the popularity of new product. By presenting it directly to the public and receiving honest feedbacks before launching it to a larger market, manufacturers can not only avoid a costly blooper but also create a hype if the product is a bullseye. To the consumers who are susceptible to catchphrases such as “limited-edition” or “season’s only”, are likly to respond to this kind of direct-marketing. And all depends on their responce, but it may help the product to grow as a mega-hit…

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Mum & I were wandering shop to shop with our eyes twinkled and mouthes gaped. We didn’t realise that there were so many characters in Japan…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

8 thoughts on “Tokyo Character Street, Ichiban Gai @ Tokyo Station

  1. Oh my! Can’t believe I missed this street in 2012. I don’t really know that many Japanese characters but I love roaming in and out of the different character shops. One of my favourites is Ghibli and I simply adore their films!

    • I do remember how chaotic during the renovation! I was with a large suitcase and bumpy floors made me cry.
      Anyway, the arcade was fun and highly recommended. Let me know how you find it when you visit 😀

  2. Tokyo Character Street! M and I spent so much time here on our last trip buying souvenirs for his nieces and nephews. We bought a bunch of Miyazaki stuff, it’s all so cute! And I got hooked on Moomin during this last trip. I’d actually never heard of that character before. We wanted to get a snack from Calbee Kitchen when we were done shopping but oh-my-goodness the line was outrageous!

    • So you don’t have Moomin in the states?! Ohhh, you don’t what you have been missing! I highly recommend books by Tove Jansson. Her stories and illustrations are just exquisite and magical.
      About Tokyo Character Street, I wish if I could spend a few more hours there. But my mum disliked crowds and shopping (!) so I had to walk away…

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