On my last trip down to London I only had a little time to go shopping so I hit my favourite stores; Japan Center, JP Books and Artbox which I’ve posted about previously. Last time I was out shopping was in August 2016 and I’d say it’s noticeable prices have gone up a little due to the fluctuations in the value of the pound. That isn’t to say there aren’t still bargains to be had out there, Japan Center in particular had a lot of marked down goods from Christmas.
I also was able to pop to a few new to me shops in London so here we go! 行きましか？
Japan Craft – Unit 2, Market Hall (ground floor) Camden Lock Place
Ok so I found this one a little hard to find, I hadn’t ever been to Camden Market before and was a bit overwhelmed by how big it is. It’s in the main hall on the left hand side as you enter the front of the building, I walked passed it the first time. It’s quite a small unit mainly selling Japanese puzzle boxes and metal teapots but you will also find a few other small gifts. Everything they sell on their online store you’ll find in the shop. Interesting if your in the area but it’s quite outside of central London so if you aren’t sure I’d say check their website first.
Japan Craft anime store – Unit 841, The Stables Market
The stables market is a hall off by itself from the main Lock Market, you’ll know your there when you find the three huge metal horses. Handily all the units here are numbered and the anime store is in a kind of ‘street’ of units together. I actually found this to be quite a disappointing shop, a few snacks and candy kits were tempting but Artbox does it so well. There was a manga section but mostly titles like Dragonball and Attack on Titan along with a few art books. There were also a few figures but the majority of the store was taken up by Funkopop figures which I personally hate. For me I’d say there are other stores in central London which fill the niche of this shop better.
Just a few worlds about Camden Market generally. It’s in the northern part of Llondon which I’d never been to before so this was my first time. There’s plenty to see and buy here. For the Japan fan there are plenty of kawaii inspired type stalls of t-shirts and harajuku style fashion. There was also a guy selling phone charms next to the first Japan Craft shop with some more obscure charms from franchises like Free!!
What surprised me most though was just out of the main hall were a variety of sellers with cheap unofficial imported goods. It’s actually the quality of the print which gives away unofficial items. Prints are often low quality faded looking digital prints or are screens done on poor quality tees. Its hard to get otaku goods in the UK so on one hand I can see the appeal and official goods can take a very long time to make the jump from east to west so these folks are filling the gap cheaply. Honestly though there are better ways of spending your money.
Mega City Comics – 18 Inverness Street, NW1 7HJ
This comic store mostly caters for western comics collectors but they did have a bookshelf of manga. Mostly the usual Attack on Titan and other popular franchises but also Chi’s Sweet Home and a few others. It’s worth checking out if your in Camden but you’ll likely find the selection very limited.
Oriental Delight – Chinatown, Gerrard Street
Oriental delight is a snack store half way down the Main Street in Chinatown. It’ll catch your eye because they have Pocky boxes lining the shop windows, which probably isn’t a good idea in summer. I’d never been in before but it has a great array of sweets and biscuits. It’s all the Thai and Chinese Pocky but there were a few varieties that I’d never seen before so I bought them. Boxes of Pocky, Pretz and Pepero are buy one get one free here and at £1.99 a box it’s hard to say no!
H Mart mini – 115 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia
I was on a K Pop hunt and this supermarket was right next to the hotel I was staying at. I’d agree with people online who say this is a rival to Japan Center, it’s actually a great shop. A mix of Japanese and Korean products too, you can get both Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki flour here for example. There was a small section of Korean beauty products too, lots of sheet masks if that’s your thing. I came here for the case of K Pop though! A great display and a good mix of artists but unfortunately they were sold out of what I wanted. That’s the curse of physical shops. They also have a bargain bin here too so you might get lucky for a discount! Highly recommend this store.