The Art of Dinky: Shop Fronts Tokyo (Shinjuku & Koenji)

The adjective ‘dinky’ means small and neat. For me, it’s the most appropriate word that springs to mind when describing typical characteristics of bars and eateries which can be found in the labyrinths in the Tokyo Metropolis. The capacity for most bars are room for barely half a dozen. A few tables and a bar area inside the cozy interior, though in summer time, stacked up plastic bottle crates are used as makeshift chairs and the clientele spill out into the street. However, despite the size, it doesn’t seem to perturb the publicans. Business as usual.


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It is well known that the Japanese are renowned for attention to detail and that opinion can be justified here. Even though the detail might not be aesthetically pleasing. Western influences are increasingly evident, for instance, bar names using English words or expressions. Postcards, signage, stickers and ripped up pages from glossy film, rock and fashion magazines, an overload of references to popular culture. Decorative styles you might see in a stereotypical student’s flat. Another predominant feature is that beauty bodes well with the unsightly. Part of the ubiquitous exterior decoration which seems ever-present outside the dwellings are the abundance of electric matter. Air conditioner ventilators, electric meters, masses of painted wire. Evidence of beauty vs ugly combinations working in harmony.


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Omtosando (Tokyo): The Art of Designer Shop Fronts

Sunday, October 12th

I arrived at the Rat Hole gallery in Omotosando at 10:00 a.m. , only to find out that the gallery opens at 12:00. Rather than hang about in a cafe for a few hours, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go on a photo shoot around the Omotosando neighborhood. Omotosando is a mecca for high fashion designer clothes and accessories.

1/ Educate Yourself

Here, you will find the latest garments from designers such as Issey Miyake, Miu Miu, Prada etc. The area encompasses an urban cool, power and chic aesthetic. However, I found these architectural structures all a bit overbearing though it was  very absorbing watching the designer clad Tokyoites strutting around the Omotosando `catwalk`



After walking through a few streets, I was amazed by the large expanses of glass used by each shop to display their goods; I was impressed too by the innovative shop displays. The Prada building being a noticeable example and visually stunning. As I looked through the glass, the mannequins and goods became distorted; losing their representation . An attractive concept to entice the consumer? I thought so, and I gained some visual ideas for my own project .


3/ Moncler

Just round the corner, Educate Yourself, employed a telephone box-looking structure display detached from the shop.Interesting. Other familiar themes involved using graffiti, retro designs, industrial settings and the use of historical characters (samurai)  in a sporting context. Funny! Overall, it was a well-spent few hours and the shoot has encouraged me to do more shop fronts in unfamiliar neighborhoods around Tokyo.


4/ Once Upon A Time
5/ Miu Miu
6/ Dress Camp
7/ Jill Sander