The old curiosity shop in Takadanobaba has been a mystery to me for a long time. I first spotted it passively years ago, before I lived near here, most likely on a trip to the Blue Parrot second-hand book store. It’s built in red-brick, or at least the facade is, and instantly stands out when surrounded by a street lined with featureless plaster-cement buildings.
It is obviously no longer in use, with papered -up windows, an overgrown window-box, and vines creeping down the sheet metal siding. Peeking inside through the veiled glass doors reveals dim shapes, one that looks like a spinning wheel, another a large statue. What was it, and when was it alive?
The Old Curiosity Shop of Takadanobaba.
Since moving to nearby Waseda, I’ve made the walk to Baba several times, each time circling a little closer to the Curiosity Shop (my name for it). One time, with camera in tow, SY and I properly scouted it. We ventured up the alley to the left. There was lots of junk lying in piles beside it, crates, old washing machines, stacks of manga. We thought we heard a noise from the piles, so I leaned in closer. A black cat exploded out of the washing machine’s drum with a shrieking cry.
I guess that old horror movie staple, of cats suddenly leaping into sight and being pretty terrifying, is wholly based on real life. I thought a devil was coming for me. The cat screamed, exploded, made for me, then melted away like a shadow, leaving me staggering backwards and with heart racing. Phew.
Behind the shop was a seriously tumbled down barn-thing, then a shack-warehouse-house, inhabited by an old geezer who seemed to be just pottering around. The back-alley between the shop and shack was fenced off and barb wired over.
Full length shot.
I had to stand in the middle of the road to make this shot.
Detail stained glass over the door frame.
Raw brick ends, fuse box, at the side.
Overgrown metal siding.
Ghost in the corner window?
Down the back alley, camera held up over the barbed wire fence.
Side, door reinforced with wooden braces.
Of course I wanted to get inside, but its not really like a regular haikyo. Its on a busy thoroughfare with foot traffic passing constantly, the old geezer in the adjoining warehouse, and a police box less than a hundred meters away. More than any of that though, it has the feeling of waiting about it. Though it is disused now and going to seed, it has the feeling of still being owned, and perhaps even cared for. Someone may have plans for it. To get in I’d have to break through their security, which is not only illegal, but also quite a challenge to do quietly.
So. Instead I scouted a nearby apartment building, climbed up to the 6th floor balcony, to get a look at it from the reverse. From that angle it seems to be seriously overgrown, though it’s hard to know exactly what we’re looking at. One room appears to be open to the elements, in the left of frame. But is it the Curiosity Shop, or part of the tumble-down shack beside it. It was such a mess of green it was hard to judge distance and know what was what.
Maybe one day I’ll make the effort to explore further.
From behind and above, looking into the overgrown innards.
In the meantime, does anybody know what this place once was?
See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.
See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:[album id=4 template=compact]