While walking in circles through Shinjuku with a dazzled-American look on my face, I happened across what looked like a pretty cool art store. I wandered in on a lark, thinking it would be nice to check out what this store had to offer.
It ended up being the most comprehensive art supply store I have ever seen.
Floor after floor, Sekaido just keeps going up and it just keeps offering more and more to artists.
The bottom floor of Sekaido dedicates itself to office supplies and greeting card, cute Moomin things you can get for your friends, and a couple Gachapon in the back corner. What surprised me most about the office supplies was … for some reason, there were aisles and aisles full of binders. Office supply shoppers in Japan seem to be very selective and also amped to get binders, folders, and organizers.
I knew that journaling was a huge trend in Japan, but I found myself asking, in a Jerry Seinfeld voice, what’s the deal with these binders? If anyone knows lemme know! Maybe it’s just nice to be organized.
The next floors of Sekaido focused more on artists who like to paint, draw, and sculpt.
With four aisles dedicated to comics, Sekaido suggests that comic-making isn’t a deeply mystified task for extremely pissed off and stressed people. Instead, comics come off as a fun and accessible part of art! Look! You can get cool books, and - what? - prelined comics pages?? (you don’t have to draw your own freakin margins like a Sisyphean slave?). Sekaido is also home to the only display of Clip Studio Paint I’ve ever seen in a retail store (you don’t have to be an uber nerd who researches into the blue horizon to figure out CSP exists!)
Not that excellent software needs a box, but, sometimes, yeah, you need a box. There was also a Wacom display:
The painting floor also had products that I never knew I needed - such as a painting jumpsuit. Forget aprons, forget gloves, forget ratty paint shirts — get thy artist body into an entire PAINTING JUMPSUIT like a Bob Ross Power Ranger. I was in love.
Many art stores in the States have how-to books but they lack inventory of books showcasing the work of powerful, established artists. Art history also goes missing at art stores.
Why does this matter? Why does it matter if there are no Georgia O’Keefe books at Hobby Lobby?
Why does it matter if Sekaido has a book of The Movie Art of Syd Mead and Michael’s doesn’t?
If all you have is how-to books in an art retail store, the store is assuming that you, the customer, are always a beginner, never a master. You are a perpetual beginner at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
Large American retailers like Michaels have the most obvious opportunity to transform the beginner mentality of their stores and bring artist books into their inventory, but even independent art stores do not commonly carry trophy books of established, beloved artists.
My favorite supply from Sekaido was this brush pen and small drawing album.
I was so excited about the brush pen that I ripped off the package with my teeth and cast it aside and forgot to even try to read what the brand was. After some careful retroactive Googling, the brush pen is this product: a Kuretake Brush Pen.
This brush pen as of writing currently has no 1-star reviews on Amazon - for good reason. It doesn’t give up. It’s like inking to your heart’s desire and never breaking your process to refill the pen in a reservoir.
If you’re an artist or you know an artist and you’re in Tokyo, go to this store! It will change your life.