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Rayna Denison goes One-Piece shopping

What’s not to love about pirates who fight on the side of the angels, searching for the inescapably McGuffin-esque “One Piece” treasure? The reason I finally succumbed to the joys of Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate gang are simple: One Piece has been popping up all over Tokyo in recent years. I first noted the trend in 2012 when a 15-year anniversary One Piece Exhibition was held in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills venue, usually a site given over to temporary art exhibitions for artists like Alphonse Mucha. The Exhibition was remarkable – interactive projected video games were dispersed among displays of Eiichiro Oda’s sketches and 3-d videos that made the pages of the manga literally come to life. The Exhibition showed the cross-generational appeal of One Piece, with whole families queuing to see the displays alongside couples and the kinds of otaku you might expect to have been interested.

This hopefully all helps to explain why One Piece popped up again shortly thereafter in the trendy Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo: in the form of the Mugiwara store on the sixth floor of the Parco (Part 1) department store. Nor was it alone – there are other One Piece Mugiwara shops popping up (and closing) around Japan. The one in Osaka looks to have closed, but another in Ogura has been announced. Parco’s Mugiwara is a bit of an “event” in its own right – a scale model of the pirate gang’s ship, the Going Merry, sits in the middle of the store, laden super-deformed cute models. A life-sized statue of main character Monkey D. Luffy also greets fans with a massive grin as they enter. That alone will probably make the trek up to the top of Parco worth it for fans, but the shop also boasts sketches by Eiichiro Oda as another draw.

Beyond those things, there are also One Piece goods to suit most pockets and tastes. Those of you who have been to Japan will know that there are “standard” kinds of anime and manga merchandise (stationery, posters, trading cards, key chains, gatchapon figures and such like) that get created for most shows. The difference with something like One Piece, which has been so massively popular for so long, is that its goods span a much wider spectrum of potential tastes. So, if you have the money you could buy some expensive One Piece jewellery, or a sketch; or, if you are on a budget there is everything from soft toys to T-shirts to kitchen goods on offer. Or, if you are heading to Japan in the next couple of months, you have the chance to enjoy the tie-in One Piece restaurant that has opened on Floor 7 of Parco Part 1 in celebration of the Mugiwara store’s first anniversary (it will be there until the end of December). So, if you want to be immersed in the world of One Piece, you could do a lot worse than going shopping in Shibuya.

The Parco department stores are one of Shibuya’s landmarks, so they are easy to find. Generally speaking, head out of the station past the statue to faithful-dog Hachiko, then go across the super-busy, famous Shibuya crossing and head up the main shopping drag, turning right up the hill after the police box. You should find the Parco Department stores next to one another at the top of the hill. For more information about the Mugiwara shop, there is a Japanese website at http://www.mugiwara-store.com/.

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