Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Mandarake Story

Ah, Mandarake - the first place collectors go before they`ve eaten, rested, or unpacked!

There`s a magical yellow sheet passed out at the stores, listing Mandarakes throughout Japan. It has the locations, store info, and little maps. By my count, I`ve made it to all but 1 or 2. If you`re a hard core toy nerd, it`s not a bad way to structure a trip around Japan. If you hit them all, that would be WORKING a Japan Rail Pass.

Anyway, so after I arrived in Fukuoka a few days ago, I stopped by to check out the local big M. It`s a nice store with very friendly and knowledgeable staff. One of them recognized me from the recent Ollie release in Nakano. Comeagain?? We chatted for a while, and as it turns out, the staffer had just spent a month in Tokyo to, get this, be part of the Mandarake homestay program!

What a sweet job. Not only do you get to be around toys all day, but you can spend a month working at a Mandarake in another city, and they`ll set up a homestay with another Mandarake staffer. That`s just flat out awesome.

There are two Mandarakes in Kyushu: Fukuoka and Kokura. Yesterday I took a train ride up to Kokura (about 45 minutes each way) to check it their branch. It`s smaller than the one in Fukuoka, and almost no indy sofubi, but Kokura makes an easy day trip, and there`s a nice castle (though it`s a reproduction built some 50 years ago). If you`re in Kyushu and short on time, I`m not sure I`d recommend the trip, but if you have 5-6 days in the area, then why not.

Incidentally, in Fukuoka, there are a couple of other otaku meccas: 007 and Maxim City (both on the same street). Kind of a free for all, flea market vibe, which makes a fun visit, but they`re not so geared towards serious collectors. There`s a similar mecca about 45 minutes from Kokura. When I have a chance, I`ll write up my complete Kyushu Toy Hunter`s Log, with pictures to boot.


ultrakaiju said...

So how do non-employees get set-up on this Mandarake homestay program? I'd be willing to work for free as their resident english speaker :P

andy b said...

Send in your proposal to them - who knows what may happen! ^_^

Beast said...

I'm gonna be in Fukuoka for around 4 days. I was thinking of hitting up the Kokura branch of M on my 3rd day. Are there a lot of things in the Kokura branch that might not be in the Fukuoka branch?

andy b said...

In my experience, the Kokura shop has a more limited selection, but as with all things, you never know! Have a fun trip!

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