A Shop of Different World Views – Irregular Rhythm Asylum and the Heartbeat of Japanese Counterculture
Nestled within the deep urban sprawl of Shinjuku, there lies a peculiar shop unlike any other. If you were to ask a person to describe the place, it would be rather challenging to pinpoint what exactly makes the shop stand out. What is the “it factor” that makes something special? What are some of the essential aspects of an environment that creates a lasting effect within the minds of those who venture into the unknown? How does a store develop a certain charm that makes the customer understand that the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself? At Irregular Rhythm Asylum (IRA), such questions seek to challenge the individual to uncover the answers with knowledge outside of the mainstream narrative.
In an era of “fake news” and political dust-ups, the shop seeks to soothe your inner iconoclast with media of various kinds not found in your ordinary bookstore.
The moment you venture into the infoshop, be prepared to gaze upon reams of posters, books, “zines,” t-shirts, and other goods that favor countercultural ideas. From anarchist thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin to early Japanese nonconformists like Noe Ito and Kotoku Shusui, you’ll find something to sink your political teeth into without much trouble. Although much of the stuff you can buy is in Japanese, there is an ample selection of English-based goods from local artists as well as translated works stacked on various shelves throughout the shop.
Don’t be alarmed if you wander into IRA and see a group of people meeting to discuss ideas not found on the regular evening news. Often, you can discover beatniks, bohemians, and people who seek to carve a different path in life discuss such ideas within the shop. If your language ability is a bit rusty, have no fear! The owner of the infoshop, Mr. Kei Narita speaks English quite well and can surely answer any questions you may have.
Since 2004, IRA has been one of the premier vestiges of Japanese counterculture, promoting ideas of free-thought and individualism. When perusing through the rich selection of material found within the halls of the store, Mr. Narita may recommend a few texts to get you started on learning about what type of media piques your interest. One of his primary endorsements is My Escapes from Japan by Osugi Sakae, which is the translated works of a series of journals and writings composed by the 20th-century thinker.
Additionally, you can find events going on around Tokyo and other parts of Japan, as there is a section of bulletins located near the entrance of the store.
Advertisements publicizing alternative music events, protest rallies, awareness groups, and discussion sessions populate the bulletin section, giving you an inside look into the activity of the Japanese underground scene.
Generally, IRA is open from 1 pm – 8 pm with holidays on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you have any questions about the store or wanted some more information, you can check out the website and send a direct message to the staff on the webpage email.
If you’re looking to for something out of the ordinary or a place that offers a different side of Japan, do not hesitate to stop by Irregular Rhythm Asylum and allow yourself to appease your inner revolutionary.