Haight

Haight is one of those suburbs that has a young creative vibe and a slew of quirky shops to match. Sure, you cant swing a stick without knocking the fake glasses or beanie off the -back- of some hipster kid’s head but in general it has the eats of West End and the boutique shopping of the Valley/New Farm in Brisbane. If you’re heading out early (re: before midday) pop into one of the many cafes on Haight St. Most seemed pretty busy so you may be in for a short wait if you’re after a table.

The People’s Café was right near the bus stop so it was an easy choice 😉 Food was quite good, reasonably fast turn around even if the service was a bit average, free WiFi more than likely makes up for it for most people. Judging from recent Yelp reviews this place has since closed, possibly rebirthed under a different guise?

Bellies full it was time to burn some Greenbacks, starting at the Masonic Ave end of Haight st…

Stussy – one of the larger stores we’ve come across but nothing out of the ordinary for the range. They did have a clearance rack with some old school Stussy designs though. Seeing their Stussy “Peace Dollar” vinyl figures on display in all forms of disrepair and missing pieces gave me the warm and fuzzies knowing I had a mint one waiting for me from my LA haul 😉

Super 7

Super 7 – local designers obsessed with Star Wars and Anime, they have a good range of their own shirt designs and a small range of toys and books. Shirts are overpriced but there are some fun original designs like the “Weapons of mass destruction” that has a bunch of space ships and vehicles from movies like Star Wars, Tron, Battlestar Galactica etc. Toys and collectibles also fetch a premium, a few odd pieces may have deserved the extra tax but Kidrobot items not so much since the KR store is just across the road.

Super 7

True Sole

True (Sole) – set up like a clearance store, they had some of the cheapest new release sneakers we saw in California with a good $10-20 less than regular retail prices. They also had older models on clearance, just cross your fingers they have your size. There’s also a small selection of clothing and accessories.

California Surplus

California Surplus – Listed as the sister store to the one in LA, this one was mostly focused on the surplus side of things rather than the work wear. They still had a small selection and thanks to a misjudgment on clothing for the day, a pair of overpriced Dickies pants were a life saver.

Shoe Biz II

Shoebiz II – This second store leans more towards the sneaker niche market. A few rarities along with clearance items on footwear and clothing. This was the only place at the time that I saw the Nike Air Vengeance‘s in “maize”, didn’t have to tell me twice 😉

Shoebiz 1 – Caters more towards women’s shoes and boots, plenty of stock but you will have to battle a thousand other women as it didn’t seem like there was a time it wasn’t packed.

Adidas Originals – up the Willy Wonker glass elevator from Shoebiz 1 is a small selection of Originals gear leaning towards the more outlandish designs and colours. The clearance bin is always a welcoming sign and this one had an out of production Adicolor jacket for $40USD *yoink* along with some sneakers and a few other bits and pieces. If you’re looking for range you’re better off heading to the Adidas store in the Westfield in the city.

Kidrobot – pretty much the same as the LA store apart from a couple older Michael Lau figures. More fuzzies when I notice they were selling for $150-200, 10 times what I paid for mine 😉

Loyal Army

Loyal Army – and then there was one. This is their only retail store left now, not in short due to a decline in their designs from cute and kitschy to trying too hard to be “now”. In saying that there was plenty of multi-buys and clearance items to be had.

FTC skate – renowned for knowledgeable and friendly staff, this is a good sized store with decent range of all things skate related.

Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music – Not having time to make it to the one in LA I was really looking forward to popping in here, and it didn’t disappoint. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling of music. Its what iTunes would look like if it was a real store, just with less thieves and a more user friendly environment 😉 It took well over an hour just to paw through the electronic music and hiphop (with a quick detour through punk) for a yield of about 35 cds, so make sure you put aside the right amount of time proportioned to your musical appetite.
Since these cds were going to be shipped back with the bulk of our haul, I stripped the cases to save some weight. The guys were only too happy to take the empty cases back (:

Downtown

The two major stops for the downtown area were the Westfield and Nike Flagship store. The Westfield was unfortunately a fruitless experience even with Champs, Footlocker, Vans and Lids on the directory save a store exclusive track jacket from the multi-level Adidas store. A couple doors down at Shiekh’s had a much better result with a large range of clearance items and new range footwear and clothing, easily one of their bigger stores too. Jordan Rare Airs were a steal at $60USD.

The Nike Flagship store, while in all intent and purposes was very similar to just about every other one in other cities fell short because of this. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all as the stock was almost identical to that in LA.

Next up we head to the two (little)lands of the orient, Japantown and Chinatown.

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

04.22.2010

Shibuya crosswalk, Tokyo

Just one stop from Harajuku, less than a kilometre down a gentle hill, so if youre not carrying too much shopping, its an easy walk, just follow the train line south. If you see Tower Records you’re heading in the right direction.

Coming by train to Shibuya, which lets face it, is one of those Tokyo “musts”, you get to witnessed one of the world’s busiest stations in full stride. But don’t let photos from above fool you, while yes it is busy ALL the time, once you’re in the midst of it, its no different than any other major train station round the world, even if its comparative to Grand Central, Paddington or Guangzhou Rail. Likewise for when you step out of the station and into the infamous Shibuya crosswalk aka Tokyo’s Time Square. From above it looks like ants before a storm but in reality its no different than jaywalking cross Adelaide and Edward streets in Brisbane (though if you’re going to jaywalk here, do so at your own peril!). Just get to the front before the walk signal goes then skew off on the road of the direction you want to go, sorted. A bit of extra pep in your step to keep ahead of the surging masses doesn’t go astray either.

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya could very well be Japanese for department store since the place is littered with them. Shibuya 109 (buildings 1, 2 and 3), Parco (buildings 1 and 2), Tokyu and OIOI Marui City are the notable mentions, though the whole “suburb” is pretty much one department store with a huge variety of stores.

Some of our faves were Bic camera their website says it all, electronics galore, one of the more well known stores with English speaking staff on hand; the Disney store with its Alice in Wonderland staircase and across the road is the 500th KFC (has a plaque n all :p ).

Sneaker-wise there’s another Adidas store, the usual scattering of ABC mart’s and THE KiksTYO, not a large range of sneakers but a few rarer models and of course their famed apparel and tees. There are also a few smaller independent sneaker stores near Parco (and a TGI Fridays 😉 ).

How do you know you bought a genuine KiksTYO tee? It comes in a box ;)

For toys you’ll want to try and find Mandarake. The building isn’t very well signed but it is called BEAM, head up 3-4 blocks on the main street from the Shibuya cross walk in a north west direction and you should stumble on it. Depending on the direction you come from you might catch a glimpse of the “BEAM” on a cyclinder structure on a corner. Its in the same building as RECOfan if that helps!

Mandarake is def. targeted to an older market, mainly because of the vintage collectibles. Wall to wall glass cabinets housing vinyls and figures that either were clearly someone’s fave childhood toy or the yellowing plastic of a original sealed toy from a child with some serious self control, all sporting hefty price tags to match. On the plus side, since they do deal with a lot of used items, you can pick up current stock at a fraction of the price, if the box has been opened. Most are still in mint condition and have all their parts. There are also shelves and bins of bits and pieces and clearance items for those that don’t mind a rummage.

I walked out with a bunch of Revoltech figures, a model kit Space Cruiser Yamato aka Starblazers (one of my childhood favourites!) and of course the obligatory Transformer (and random Gashapon :p).

As mentioned RECOfan is in the same building, one of the larger music stores that also do used items and records. Roughly about 5 times the size of Rockinghorse Records in Brisbane you could easily spend a day crate digging. Good thing is the sections are well labelled in English and are alphabetically broken down into genre and artist with a fair serving of rarities and country only releases. If you don’t get your fill here, there’s also Disk Union and “Dance music records” stores with a block or so.

For some sightseeing novelty check out “Love hotel hill”, basically a small lane dedicated to the oldest profession in the world. Good for a laugh or a quickie.

If you’re hanging around into the evening and want to get your boogie on then Shibuya is also home to Womb one of Tokyo’s biggest nightclubs with matching exuberant entry fee and drink prices. Check the “Womb cruise” party in May 2010 on a boat that looks like its come straight out of the Thunderbirds!

Tokyo part #1 – Ueno for a day
Tokyo part #2 – Getting round Tokyo, Ueno Sakura at night
Tokyo part #3 – Harajuku
Tokyo part #5 – Kichijoji and Shinjuku
Tokyo part #6 – Akihabara
Tokyo part #7 – Odaiba and Leaving Tokyo

Photo Gallery Here