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A visit to Jimboucho Gunsouten, Tokyo


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This past weekend I was in Tokyo catching up with friends and I was lucky to be able to visit Jimboucho Gunsouten (Gunsouten literally means "military uniform store") in the Jimboucho neighborhood in Tokyo. It is without question the greatest single mass of antique Japanese military uniforms out there and I was lucky to be able to visit.

 

The store generally opens by appointment only, and I emailed the address on their website about a week out with the list of items I was interested in and asking for to visit. Hama, the owner's very helpful English-speaking assistant, emailed me back in English and we agreed to a Sunday morning visit. The store is not far from the subway station although I was only able to find it with the help of a barista, and then some street-sweepers directing me (navigating Japanese cities is notoriously hard as there are no Western-style street addresses). When I arrived, tragically, Hama said the shop's owner was ill, so it would be impossible for us to negotiate prices or for me to actually purchase anything. However, she was kind enough to show me around for a little bit, let me take some photos, and promised to follow-up by email regarding the items I was looking for. They can accept payment from abroad and ship internationally, according to Hama, although they don't list their stock online.

 

I only snapped a few photos, and they aren't very good, but they're enclosed to give you an idea of the scale of their stock. There must have been hundreds of uniforms, dating from the Meiji period onwards. I personally was able to take a look at about half a dozen uniforms of the Model of 1886, most of which were in remarkably good condition. Apparently, most of the earlier stuff is kept in a warehouse at another location. Hama said the store is going to move into another, bigger location soon and they will finally have all their stock on hand. I can only imagine how much they must have there.

 

I did not pay very close attention to the stock of Taisho and Showa-period items, but it seemed like they had every piece of uniform or equipment you could want. They also had quite a few medals.

 

For more information, I recommend their English-language website at http://www.jimboucho-gunsouten.com/english.html.

 

Best,

T.S.

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HA HA!!! Yes, I was there at the end of March. I just showed up out of the blue without contacting ahead of time. The roll-up door was open and my friend and I shouted in there, and Hama-san showed up. Even though we simply showed up, she was happy to take us upstairs and show us around (very crowded!) - but man, what a great place!

Unfortunately, the owner was antique hunting in Osaka, so we could not meet him, but there was plenty there to look at! She indicated the shop is actually going to relocate (and that may have happened already by now), I've meant to email her and find out, and thank her once again for the tour. Prices did seem a bit high on a lot of the medals, which is my primary interest, but I did not comment on that. Some interesting firearms related items too, I could use a few miscellaneous parts for some of my Arisakas. Will have to inquire about those too.....

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