Kimono My House Closes

What is most likey the last of it’s kind toy store in the US,is in the process of closing. Kimono My House has been a haven for many Bay Area Japanese toy collectors now for many decades. Located in Emeryville, Ca (a short ride from San Francisco), I’ve been going to Kimono since the late 1980’s and have satisfied my toy fix there over the years … as well as converting many folks to the Japanese toy collecting world.
This whole area used to be nothing but industrial buildings .. but now with such power house companies as Pixar down the street the area is now newly made with condos and a Ikea. Welcome to the future, which does not included funky toy stores such as this, sad to say.
I recently made my final trip to their store to pay my respects to it’s owner Yuki and bid farewell to a most unique experience.
Located on a roof top of a warehouse,

you have to climb several flights of painted cement stairs

to reach the top of the toy mountain.

Once you emerge your greeted by store display robots and a gigantic Ultraman Great.

The store itself is what I consider the closet you could get to replicating a real Japanese toy store 😉 well I guess it has more room .. but the amount of stuff crammed into the space is awesome.

ah the final purchases ….

Time marches on as they say, and I for one will miss stores like this. Even though Kimono will stay online it’s the “real touch” aspect that I will miss the most. Not only seeing a toy in person but the smells of old wood and plastic. Kimono is a throw back to the days when the toys were the thing and not slick presentation or in your face video games. I guess this makes me an old guy, but somehow I’ve always longed for the days when you could go somewhere and only experience that special store or restaurant in that place and nowhere else.. not like the Starbucks of today which are everywhere in the world.
I find myself lucky to have at least been able to celebrate this trip with good friends and my son… thats ultimately what all this is about for me, the human touch and connecting with people in a positive way.

(Kimono My House will be open thru the end of Jan 2009)

About toykarma

Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets. Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps. After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. “I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says. Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past. “Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.” Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection. Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world. In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show. As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas. “Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”
This entry was posted in Bandai, Japanese Toy Store, Japanese toys, kimono My House, Popy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kimono My House Closes

  1. arion salazar says:

    Mr. Nagata! hey just saw this. and am pretty late in getting hip to the ridonkoulously prolific pace youve been pumping out amazing stuff! seriously… kudos, your figures and art in general are beautiful. congrats!
    also wanted to point out that KIMONO MY HOUSE IS STILL OPEN 🙂 they just moved. 1455 64th St, Emeryville, CA. but still owned by the same lady, still old school, a bit downhome style. def miss Yuki 😦 BUT anyway still here w/ tons of hidden treasure.
    again, cheers for the great work w/ maxtoyco and this site.

    take care, a

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