Mysterious Charm of Eye-Catching General Store Draws People In; Said to Have Several Thousand Items

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hitomi Ando stands in her shop filled with various items in Nerima Ward, Tokyo.

Get off at Ekoda Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and walk along Ondai street toward Musashino Academia Musicae in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, and you will find an eye-catching storefront that makes you wonder what’s inside.

Drawn in by its mysterious charm, I entered the store called “Garakutaya Neverland.”

Within the store, which rents the ground floor of a private house, I found Showa era (1926-1989) toys and sundries piled up to the ceiling.

The store is filled with such things as pharmaceutical company novelty goods featuring Beat Takeshi when he was young, key chains with pictures of what appear to be pop stars and pencils with company names on them, which are not so common these days.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pencils with company names
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bottle openers of various shapes and sizes

The store, which is so small that customers find it difficult to pass each other, is said to have several thousand items.

Hitomi Ando, 35, the store’s owner, said she does not know the exact number of items.

Ando said she became interested in and began collecting antique goods when her father took her to a flea market in the United Kingdom as a child.

While working as a part-time worker after dropping out of university, she sorted through her grandmother’s belongings and found many household items that no one would buy such as cat figurines and small shelves.

Thinking that it would be a waste to throw them away, she decided to start a business and opened the store in September 2013. Men and women of all ages visited the store. I guess they were drawn to the store like I was.

The store limits its merchandise to older items, but buys all kinds. Two or three times a year, she travels to Asia and other foreign countries to stock up on items while on vacation.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the store continued to attract customers, many of whom were foreigners who visited after seeing the store’s Instagram page.

Prop staff for movies and TV dramas also frequently come to the store looking for small items with a Showa-era feel, she said.

Even though most of the items are no longer necessary in our daily lives, Ando said: “Useless things are what add color to our lives and enrich our minds. I want this store to be a place where adults can relax.”

That is why she has tried not to make the store into a “museum” that collects valuable items.

Many of the items are one-of-a-kind, which makes for some unique encounters.

“Please look for them,” Ando said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Old signboards and masks

Garakutaya Neverland

Address: 39-7 Sakaecho, Nerima Ward, Tokyo

Access: 5-minute walk from Ekoda Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line or from Shin-Sakuradai Station on the Seibu Yurakucho Line.

Hours: 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.