I stashed my luggage in a coin locker at the station and set out on my mission. I was due to catch a northbound shinkansen (bullet train) from Ueno Station in forty minutes, and I was under orders to search for a Suntory Boss (http://www.flickr.com/photos/39621309@N00/143190941/) t-shirt for my boyfriend's Halloween costume before I left Tokyo. Across the street from the station is a maze of narrow streets filled with pedestrians and cyclists walking in every direction around small eclectic boutiques selling jewelry, shoes, clothing...everything.
I didn't find a t-shirt of the Boss, but I did find Graniph, a small corner shop selling very attractive silkscreened graphic tees at very reasonable prices. Graphic designers and illustrators from around the world submit their designs to Graniph, who prints them on a variety of shirt colours and styles. The art is very attractive, occasionally witty, sometimes too art-school-trendy, but most of the designs are timelessly pleasing. It was very hard for me to walk away from the teal shirt with "Helvetica" written across the chest (the mating call of the graphic designer), and I'm glad I didn't spend any money there that day - I decided the wise thing to do was to see if I had any money left at the end of this vacation, and spend it at Graniph on the way home.
Graniph's website is in Japanese, but their t-shirt and artist catalogue is very easy to navigate. A slightly cheaper and more attractive alternative to http://www.threadless.com, if you happen to be in Tokyo!
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