My Famicase

Kichijoji is an area outside of my usual bubble, a 40 minute train ride from Shibuya or, had I been smart enough to take an express rather than a local, 15 minutes. It has a vibrant shopping area surrounding the station, with covered streets packed with tiny shops and bars, and a nice park for family strolling. I, however, made the trek to visit the smallest, geekiest showcase of recent time: the My Famicase exhibit at Meteor.

Meteor is a tiny, tiny retro shop selling Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System) cartridges, CDs, books and T-shirts, as well as some other odds and ends, like incense and tea pots, for some reason. It boasts several tiny CRT televisions hooked up to old consoles, a Vectrex and a working VirtualBoy. The single rack of T-shirts had some awesome Famicom and Game&Watch related designs, all at a fairly hefty price, and all in either S or XL sizes. I’m apparently geeky enough to want a shirt boasting the Zelda hearts meter or the Mario Bros. pipes, but not geeky enough to fit within the two stereotypical body images of the geek: morbidly overweight or anorexic. I’m a Japanese Medium, which is great for my ego but makes geek clothes shopping difficult – which in turn, I guess, is good for my image.

The My Famicase exhibit takes up the top half of one wall and displays 50 Famicom cartridges with custom designed labels by a variety of local artists and designers. They are not specifically game based and range from abstract to faux-game artsy. Especially of note is illustrator Hawken King’s “Bush Jr.” design, the one overtly political cartridge which, I gather, has caused a minor storm in a teacup for him, showing, as it does, George W. Bush looking decidedly simian climbing one of the WTC towers. It’s a really cool design, and others too were worth checking out.

The exhibit is until the end of the month but all the cases can be seen on the website, here.

As the shop Meteor and the exhibit are fairly small, it won’t take up much of your day, so while you’re there, walk into the nearest side-street, underneath the railway tracks and a 100 meters orso into the suburban area behind it to have a quick gander at manga artist Umezu Kazuo’s funky house, often called “Makoto-chan House”. It’s a mad structure painted in red and white stripes, with his famous character adorning a ledge along the top and boasting a small tower with two round windows and a strategically placed nose. The mailbox too is an old-fashion Japanese pillarbox. So bright and, frankly, awesome is this house that it prompted dullard neighbours to file suit in complaint. In January the Tokyo District Court thankfully dismissed the lawsuit meaning curious visitors can enjoy this little splash of brightness in an otherwise fairly gray neighbourhood. It is quite literally almost around the corner from Meteor, so one might as well have a quick look.


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