Visual Overload Deluxe

Shopping is not my thing. I get the feeling I know everything that really interests me already, and there’s nothing new to find. But when I first walked into a Japanese department store, everything was new. The store layouts, the way they present their stuff and most important of all: They sell different things!

I spent hours and hours in Yodobashi, a massive everything-store in the Akihabara district. There’s just so much of everything, it’s completely mental. I knew that the Japanese people were crazy about pens, for example. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find thousands of different pens in a big department store. But ten shelves with hundreds of thousands of them were more than I had been able to imagine. They even had eight different systems where you choose an empty pen with one to five slots for ball pen ink reservoirs and then a large selection of different colors and stroke widths. It’s the same with stationary. If you like Moleskin notebooks – Japan has them in all colors, layouts, and designs… and then some other brands with similar qualities and their own twists.

Think of any product. Like headphones. When there are 100 different models at a German Mediamarkt, there are 500 different ones here. Good luck picking one and then not pondering if you chose the best option. 😂 Do little dictionary computers – these things that look like the unwanted children of a netbook and a Casio calculator – still exist? Answer: Yes, and there are at least 50 different models.

All of this goes for all forms of media, too. Many media stores are narrow, high buildings with six to ten floors, filled to the brim with everything imaginable. I saw a large section of Blu-rays and DVDs of train rides only. It’s the same with books: An entire floor dedicated to books about learning to draw anime – and a large section specifically about drawing naked underage girls anime characters. But more on that stuff later. It’s so easy to forget that there’s a whole separate universe that exists outside the English speaking world.

Malls are often confusing. Sometimes there’s a subway floor between two floors… and when two or more malls are connected in the underground, it’s easy to lose track of which floor you’re on and which building you’re in. Escalators in malls are built in a way that doesn’t let you see all the way up or down the building, so you lose your feeling of where you are very quickly. At one point I thought I was on level “B1” (which is the Japanese version of “-1”) while I was sitting in a food court on level 6.

Another great experience I had, was when I walked past a narrow flight of steps, leading down to a small collaboration space, and decided to give it a try. To see how it feels. You pay around 300 Yen per hour and get free coffee and drinks, a cozy environment, fast Internet and the company of interesting people. I ended up spending more than three hours here, catching up with my blog. ‘Cause this shit takes time, yo! If I ever end up doing creative work on my own, you’ll find me in a place like this, buried behind a fancy MacBook, and with a shiny pair of headphones in my ears.


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