Village Vanguard, the 'Exciting Bookstore' Packed With Wacky, Cute and Geeky Treasure



Village Vanguard, the 'Exciting Bookstore' Packed With Wacky, Cute and Geeky Treasure


If you're in for a mind-blowing shopping experience in Japan, in a store that feels like it's a separate universe, where you'll forget about time and everything outside, then look no further than Village Vanguard.
Village Vanguard Shibuya Store

How to even begin describing Village Vanguard? It calls itself an 'exciting bookstore', but you can bet you'll find much more than just books in these shops. In fact, I got lost a few times before even reaching the book section while taking pictures for this article.
Vintage books at Village Vanguard

Inside one of these stores you'll find food, anime and character goods, souvenirs, clothes, artists merchandise, cute stuff, vintage books, stationery, and all sorts of funny items. Needles to say, a lot of these items make for amazing souvenirs and gifts.
Village Vanguard Shibuya Store

Since words can't do this store justice, let me give you a tour. I headed to one of the Village Vanguard locations in Tokyo and picked up some of the coolest, cutest and strangest items I could find!
Giant Umaibo and snacks at Village Vanguard

Let's start with the snacks. Even here you see why they have 'exciting' in the name. We found a huge pack of umaibo. For those who are not familiar, they are little cylindrical puff corn snacks about the size of your hand. You don't normally find a pack this big!
Fish chocolates at Village Vanguard

Next we found their frozen foods section...just kidding. This is not what you think it is although the packaging is very convincing. That's actually a shrink wrapped Styrofoam tray, like the ones you get in supermarkets.
Chocolate in a fish packaging from Village Vanguard

The truth actually contains chocolate!
Spicy yakisoba at Village Vanguard

A popular theme with snacks is making them super spicy. This yakisoba (fried noodles) will challenge even the most well trained palates. They also have spicy curry and even some spicy sweets.
Brain noodles at Village Vanguard

The variety of items at Village Vanguard has no limits. If you can think of it, they probably have it. Here is a pack of noodles called 'No Men'. It means brain noodles. The cooked pink noodles probably look like very convincing brains inside those bowls.

You will also find handwritten notes by the staff on some items. I love how homely it feels reading their thoughts and recommendations.
Animal soy sauce dishes at Village Vanguard

Aside from novelty items, cuteness is also at home here. I instantly fell in love with these soy sauce plates with animals carved on the bottom.
Shiba inu soy sauce dish from Village Vanguard

Pour the soy sauce and the animal will appear!
Cat paw mug from Village Vanguard

How do you enjoy your morning coffee? I drink mine out of my cat paw mug. 
Shakurel planet mug at Village Vanguard

These mugs always crack me up when I see them. They are characters from a series called 'Shakurel Planet' that features animals with prominent chins. They started as a gachapon series and became popular. Now there's even a manga about them.
Cat eye mask at Village Vanguard

Eye masks are popular here in Japan. Inside the cat is a bag of beads. You can either freeze the bag to cool it or microwave it to warm it. You then put it back in the cat and place it over your eyes.
Cat eye mask from Village Vanguard

This pack also contains a 'fresh peach' fragrance. After giving it a try I'm just as relaxed as the cat. It really helps with eye strain after being on a computer all day.


Cat relaxation items at Village Vanguard

They have so many cute relaxation items and they all have character! Continuing on we find on the left, a paw. This paw recreates the feeling of being patted by a cat. On the right is a vibrating massager shaped like a cat's head that you can use on your neck and back. All these cute cats will relieve the stress of my day.
Sparkling wine bubble bath at Village Vanguard

Ready for some champagne? Take this bottle into your bath and pour it in! This is a bottle of bubble bath with a peach fragrance. The bottle is so fancy, it really makes you feel like you're treating yourself.
Animal hairbands at Village Vanguard

They have something stylish for everyone. Here are hair bands with various animals and dinosaurs attached to them. I think my hair goes better with a moose than a camel. 
Cupcake band-aids at Village Vanguard

Even the band aids are unique. These not only look like cupcakes but also have a raised surface because of course they do.
Dinosaur backpack, t-rex at Village Vanguard

Now I'm ready to hit the streets of Shibuya and show off the latest trends in dinosaur backpacks.
Bread pouches at Village Vanguard

Turning the corner it might look like you're in a bakery, but it's just a selection of bread-themed purses and pencil cases!
Toast coin purse at Village Vanguard

The toast coin purses make me hungry. But they would probably go great with my dinosaur backpack.
Meat items at Village Vanguard

Speaking of food, next we found their meat section. But you probably guessed by now this is not what it seems! The one I'm holding is actually another purse and again I'm surprised by the realistic packaging. The bigger meat trays are towels, folded up to look like meat in a supermarket.
Food-inspired pillows at Village Vanguard

I spent way too much time in their pillow section. The pillows are so soft and come in a variety of food shapes. An ice cream in my left hand and a loaf of bread in my right. I'm in comfort heaven. 
Giant cat plushes at Village Vanguard

Can you spot me in this picture? I'm behind that massive, super-soft kitty plush. It's so big that you could use it as a pillow!
B-side label cute animal badges at Village Vanguard

These are from a Japanese artist brand called B-Side label. You can find a lot of their pins and stickers in Village Vanguard. I particularly like the cute animal series!
Novelty items at Village Vanguard

Paris, LA, New York? I don't think so. The fashion capital of the world is right here. 
Unko character goods at Village Vanguard

Japan has a fascination with a certain emoji. Themed hats, plushes, books, and yes, snacks can be found here.
Pokemon goods at Village Vanguard

Village Vanguard has no shortage of character goods. From Pokémon to Peanuts they have all kinds of items from both Japanese an foreign characters. Some are only found in Japan!
Megaman E tank drink at Village Vanguard

For the gamers out there you can find some real gems. Retro consoles and even an E Tank drink.

Get Excited at Village Vanguard

Village Vanguard is a real trip. After getting lost in a sea of wacky and crazy items we left with smiles on our faces. Each Village Vanguard has unique items so next time you see one, stop by and explore!
Super Mario character goods at Village Vanguard


Village Vanguard | ヴィレッジヴァンガード
Website (Japanese-only):
You can find Village Vanguard stores in many districts in Tokyo and in other cities all over Japan.

*This article is based on a coverage from March 2018. The items available at the store might change depending on the time of your visit.

About the author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).


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