I went to Japan for two weeks back in July, with a small group of friends. As someone who doesn’t speak much Japanese, was there for non-yoyo tourism, and doesn’t know much about the competition scene, most of traveling to Japan was your average touristy fare. There’s a few things that were worth mentioning though: Physically going to Spingear/Rewind, and meeting people at Shibuya Yoyo Club.
The Rewind store in Shibuya is just on the edge of the urban center and is its own small store. It was a quiet place the few times I went there, and it’s quite a walk from any subway station. The vibe I got was extremely similar to my favorite stationery store in Hong Kong – slightly off the beaten path in a minimal office building, the concrete stairs leading up to the stores more like a back-door stairwell than anything else. It’s one of those places you have to deliberately go out and find, and is all the more exciting a visit as a result.
Spingear is set up in the middle of a shopping mall in Akihabara. Completely different vibe, and there were a lot more tourists coming in and having no idea how to play yoyo. That explains their array of fidget toys, as well as their more budget yoyos that they stock. There were many, many sample yoyos for people to play.
There’s a lot more that I’d like to write about Japan, but that’s going in a separate blog since it’s mainly food/media oriented. Might post a link here + on Instagram when it’s up… sometime.
Japan is where 2a really seems to be popular – at Shibuya Yoyo Club a few kids were extremely skilled (by my standards), and a few adults were just playing around with a looper while watching everything go by.
Someone on the big Facebook BST group recently asked whether parents had kids who yoyo, or what their kids thought about their yoyo hobby. There were a few fun responses. I believe that’s how yoyo really gets (and stays) popular: parents or community members keep at it and inspire others to play. At the same time, it’s totally fine for people to not want to yoyo much in public, because it’s a lot of unwanted attention. Most of us aren’t that good, and we just play for fun and relaxation. Some of us prefer collecting pretty yoyos. Do what you want, and if you want more people to yoyo, get out there and do something about it.
ThrowCafe’s been what I’ve tried to do about it. Community members inspired me to start designing yoyos, and the community has been incredibly supportive. I just wanted to put that out there because I’m looking at the abyss of graduate school and wondering how much time I’ll have to write about anything other than my work.