Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SM Safari in Jimbocho

A large selection of Uramado magazines
A few weeks ago, I was traipsing around Jimbocho with a visitor from a distant land attempting to find a particular out-of-print SM coffee table book. The book had been published in 1995 and featured the beautiful Asabuki Keito (aka Kate Asabuki). The photos were by Tanaka Kinichi and the rope work by Akechi Denki.

This is a well-known book as several of the photos had been scanned and passed around news groups in the early days of the internet. But I had only actually seen it once in a used bookshop and then a friend got to it before I did.

I told my companion she was probably looking for a needle in a haystack.

The Kate Asabuki photo book, front cover
Back cover
Someone had told her about Suzuran-dori in Jimbocho so we headed over there after checking out a few places I knew and coming up empty handed. On Suzuran-dori we found a shop specializing in just these kinds of photo books called Aratama.

I didn't go in with her immediately. I think I was delayed five minutes for a smoking break. But when I stepped inside, there she was with a big grin on her face holding not one but two copies of the book. I just about keeled over.

Aratama is my new go-to place in Jimbocho, especially since SNS, which had been located on Hakusan-dori, is no longer around.

Actually, Aratama have two locations: besides this shop, down the road a ways on the second floor above AV Factory, is an even better place; one that has a ton of Showa-era SM magazines. Suddenly, losing SNS didn't hurt so much.

A row of SM mags at Aratama
It's mind boggling the sheer number SM magazines that were published in Japan back in the good old days. Visiting Aratama reminded me once again just how many of these publications I never knew existed. Of course, they have the famous ones such as SM King and Uramado, but they also have many that were completely new to me.

Here's one called SM Photo Zenshu. The top one has Azuma Terumi on the cover. This series of photos of Azuma is now a classic.

SM Photo Zenshu with Azuma Terumi on the cover
SM Photo Zenshu -- another classic image
The internet is great ... and the internet sucks.

SM mags are dead.

Digital photography sucks.

Back in the '70s you could pay four or 500 yen for a magazine with great bondage photos by master photographers and they'd throw in the articles and the manga for free.

Now what? Pay 20 or 30 bucks a month to join one site of digital crapola?

Or, as some of us have figured out, find the few BBS sites that have scans of the only good stuff out there which, wait for it, just happens to be from the '70s and '80s and shot on film.

Gahou SM Dai Zenshu
These photos were tricky to take due to the plastic covers and the fluorescent lights. But I have found the folks at Aratama very willing to slip the mags out of their covers so you can have a look. Also, they are willing to deal. In fact, I would say they are very willing to deal.

Maybe not so much if you just go in and buy one magazine. But if you buy a couple of big ticket items, or an assortment of goodies, the sticker price ain't really the price. Be nice, then ask for a discount. They'll give it to you. At least they did when I was there. I was amazed at how much they took off one particular high-value item.

Dan Oniroku's SM King magazine
Too many mags to take photos of
Speaking of big ticket items, the following magazines will still cost you, even with a discount. The first three have Tani Naomi on the cover. Anything with Tani Naomi commands a premium.

The next three: SM King magazine and two more with the Dan Oniroku touch.

And to wrap things up, two more photo books. Believe it or not, the smallish magazines up there with Tani Naomi cost a good deal more than these large, hardcover photo books.

Photos from these books have popped up on the internet as well. The one on top has the gorgeous Eve as the model and Arisue Go was the roper.

Here is the address for the Aratama SM shop. When in Tokyo, plug this into Google Maps and you'll find the exact location. It's on the 2nd floor above AV Factory. Tell 'em this blog sent you.


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  1. I think i was here. if it was a shop where you get in by a elevator? really expensive magazines but i was fuckin' amazed!!!! that was paradise, i got a few porn magazines. The cheapers ones.
    The closed in Hakusan-dori was the one with a old woman selling?
    Hope i can go back soon!

  2. I only went to SNS on Hakusan-dori once or twice. No woman behind the counter when I was there. And Aratama, I just took the stairs, don't even remember there being an elevator. So maybe you went to some different places (?)... But that's the fun of Jimbocho, not knowing what you might stumble upon :-)

  3. Funny thing haha
    i cant tell exactly where i been, i just got into every shop! The old woman, was a really weird thing. Never seen before a old woman selling porn. =)