By Neal Izumi, photos by VEB
Location: Tokyo, Shinjuku
Description: Sakura-Ya is an all-round hobby store, with CDs and DVDs in the basement, electronic games on the ground level, models, toys, and R/C on the second level, and air soft guns on the third level. An eclectic selection of 12" figures can be found at the entrance to the second floor. The garage kit selection is limited to anime “girlie” and “mecha” subjects. But the selection of anime garage kits is pretty good. The store carries “the latest and greatest” of everything. Old stuff is pretty rare here. Judging by the amount of cash register activity, their inventory must turn over completely every couple of weeks! Prices are 20% off everything, except CDs and DVDs. A point card system is available for repeat customers, for additional savings.
This was probably the most crowded hobby store we visited. From what I have seen on past trips here, the store constantly bustles with the level of activity that can only be seen at Longs Drugs on Wednesdays. We saw a poor old man who was endlessly restocking the shelves with the brand new “Gundam Fix Figuration” Ex-S Gundam toy. The crazed customers were sucking them off the wall faster than he could replace them. He was at it when we arrived, and was still at it when we left. God, I hope he at least gets medical benefits.
Pros: Good selection, good price.
Cons: The place is almost always crowded as a Tokyo commuter train during rush hour. The store shopping baskets are woefully inadequate. They need shopping CARTS! But customers pushing carts around would not get anywhere in the mob that constantly populates Sakura-Ya.
Analysis: A great place to grab the latest and greatest. I usually leave this store looking like a lady who had just been to an 80% off sale at an expensive shoe store.