Underground Ninja Toy Stores

Photo by Cherry Vega

I can’t remember when my love for Japanese started, but I imagine it was during my colorful raver years……which never happened, by the way……

Everything is so eye catching, that I long to know more about it. My years with Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re, helped resolve some mysteries of this foreign land full of cute mascots and 1000 different kinds of Pocky, but I always long for more. Every time I come across something I’ve never seen or tried in Chinatown, I feel like I need to buy it just to further understand its meaning.

I have a favorite place to go in Chinatown that I can only refer to as “underground ninja toy store” after it became the luring key term that was described as to me, the first time I was brought there. It blew my mind.

Photo found on yelp

You walk into this place. A dull building with not much more than a pharmacy and bad lighting. Then travel down an escalator….

and end up in a basement with nothing but stores that at crammed full of reasonably priced  japanese knickknacks, accessories, plushies, stationary, video games, cute cups, and other random things that are nearly impossible to resist because of cuteness sensory overload.

Thats how I ended up with this new and unusually tall tea mug for $5.00, the other day.

Last time I was there, I noticed there was a new knickknack that I could’t even begin to understand.

This. what.is.this…? I know it says “crystal balls” but it also says “seven color”. Obviously deceiving.

I didn’t buy it, but recently Bee came back from a trip and happen to have brought it back as a gift! As if I was back in the ninja shop all over again, I was stumped by what I was looking at. I asked her what this adorable bag that could barely fill the palm of my hand, was made for. I don’t think she knew much more than me, about the mysteries of it, because her explanation was pretty much a description of the packaging.

“you put them in water and they turn into things”

then she drifted off in both, voice and eye contact.

I let them sit on my desk for a few days, then decided to just throw them into some water to see what would happen. I had no idea what to expect, and have no idea how I feel about the results. I do, however, feel like I should share as much about my Japanese discoveries, as I can. Just doing my part in down playing Americans as ignorant and unapologetic, to the Japanese, I guess.

this was how they looked as soon as I dropped them into a glass of room temp water.

Within an hour, they began to swell up a little

After about 5 hours, they kind of just dissolved into the glass. I was tired and the only thing I wanted after seeing these results, was a Shirley Temple. Unamused, I went to bed.

When I woke up, I was pretty excited to see these bouncy balls, that felt like a hardened Jello, filling the glass.

I don’t know what to do with them, but they’re pretty rad! A bag of them costs about 50 cents, so perhaps I can use them as an alternative to snow balls, in the summer time.

Tags: , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “Underground Ninja Toy Stores”

  1. monkeyKing Says:

    you’re the reason i’m familiar with Yoshitomo Nara’s work.
    (Yayoi is fun to watch too.)

  2. Melanie Says:

    That place looks amazing! Do you know where in Chinatown that store is located? Or what it’s near?

  3. Alison Heller Says:

    That place looks amazing! Where is it? There’s a pretty awesome Japanese random store right across from Bryant Park. I stumbled into it one day after getting Crumbs for the office. It’s like 3 floors of incredible.

    • ohChloe Says:

      I must go!
      This place is on Elizabeth street between Bayard & Canal.
      What end of the park do I find this place? I imagine its on the east side
      I stumbled into a korean cafeteria right around there once. They gave me a soft serve sesame ice cream, in a cone, that was about 9 inches tall

      • Alison Heller Says:

        It’s on 6th somewhere between 40th and 42nd. They have a ton of books in every genre, plush, toys, everything! Sesame ice cream sounds amazing. I just discovered red bean ice cream and it’s pretty much all I want to eat forever.

    • ohChloe Says:

      I found it! 6th ave btwn 40th and 41st.
      I spent 7 hours in there and need to go back and buy a ton of books that I can’t read. Why must the japanese have the best craft books?!
      Thanks so much for letting me know. I would have never known about this place, otherwise.

  4. I Love NY | Says:

    […] Secret underground establishments. The city is so dense that everything is stacked on top of/ below everything else. Bars that you can still smoke in, cheap thrift shops, even ninja toy stores! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: