Driving along Shishigatani Doori in Kyoto, my friend, who was with me in the car, suddenly asked me to pull off. Pointing at a small shop on the street side, he said, “Why don’t we have a look in there?” The shop was inside of an old wooden house that had a contradictorily modern facade on the first floor that was covered with cement. Looking through the shops’ long and narrow window, I could indistinctly see a wooden toy truck and a few pieces of wooden building blocks. Looking at these, I thought this had to be a toy shop.
This shop named Bild is actually a second-hand store that was opened only towards the end of last year. Although I pass by this area often, I was never aware of the shop as it is open only on Sundays. During the rest of the week, Sakai, the owner of the shop would be busy with his full-time job. When it is Sunday, instead of taking a good rest, he would rather spend his time on his favorite side job.
Bild is like a treasure box stuffed with interesting finds such as antique board game from Europe, paper-made swatter that has already turned yellow, old paper boxes and the wooden wheel of a thread roll. The biggest treasure of Bild is, in fact, the architecture itself. Although the two floors of the shop are separated by merely a few steps, they are connected by two staircases. One of the staircases leads to the second floor, while the other one leads to a door that is never open. This building was once a milk shop. Back in the days before fridge became a common household item, the Japanese would order milk from these shops. Milk would be delivered daily as they do for the newspaper. Sanitary is critical for milk storage, this could be difficult to maintain with couriers entering and leaving the room all the time. Considering this, the shop built another door that could bring the couriers directly up to the waiting room without going through the milk storage room. People who like selling old items are, usually, also keen on preserving old buildings. The way Sakai kept this interesting old building intact is a perfect demonstration of this attitude.
In recent years, I have been discovering more and more shops with a unique personality owned by young people in Japan. From the cafe in a hidden mountain to the secondhand shop that is only open once per week, these places all have their extraordinary way of operating. The young people have found an unlikely path between reality and passion. On this path, they ramble at their own rhythm.