What: Travelling Man
Where: Grainger Street. (Directions)
Phone: (0191) 261 4993
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4.30pm
Deep in the heart of Newcastle City Centre there exists a Japanese pop culture oasis. Filled with all the latest in Japanese literature and collectables, Travelling Man has been providing Newcastle with all its geeky Japanese needs for several years now, and it’s doing a damn good job at it too!
The store itself is well laid out and it’s very easy to find whatever you’re looking for on your own, but the friendly staff are on hand to assist if you have any issues or questions. On the Saturday afternoon that I visited the store for this article, the shop was bustling with customers purchasing all manner of items to the sound of J-Pop pumping out of the sound system. There is a great atmosphere in the shop and there are loads of events advertised on the walls, happening both in and out of the store.
The shop stocks the largest collection of Japanese (and non-Japanese) manga in the region, the bookshelves here are a paradise for any fan of manga comics. Even if you’re unfamiliar they are worth investigating out of curiosity, most are quite unlike the Western idea of a comic and do some extremely interesting things with the form. All the manga books are translated into English but most read in the opposite direction to standard western books so watch out! Speak to the staff for recommendations on where to start, or just pick up the first edition of the ‘Death Note’ series and start from there (you won’t regret reading that!).
Elsewhere in the store you can purchase the serialized magazine manga ‘Shonen Jump’ and hard to find Japanese magazines on the crazy fashion trends of the youth tribes. There is a large shelf of Japanese novels translated into English which provides some gems often only available in speciality stores such as Travelling Man and is, again, worth investigating even if it’s just for novels that famous Japanese films were based on such as Battle Royale. Another range of Japanese cultural books are on sale, ranging from photography books to titles on Japanese phenomenon’s such as Japan’s obsession with things being kawaii (cute).
Opposite the manga section there is a large display of Japanese figures, accessories and collectables often in super kawaiistyle. Ranges such as Gloomy Bear, Domo and Momiji were on sale the day I visited as well as a host of anime collectables. If you are looking to kit yourself out with some super-cool accessories, including sushi necklaces, then this is the place to stop.
Travelling Man is great resource for anyone interested in the pop culture exports of Japan, and anytime you pop in for a browse you are sure to find all manner of things that catch your eye (especially if you hang around the Studio Ghilbi display… but that’s for another article). Travelling Man also stock a variety of non-Japanese products including mainstream and independent comics, role playing board games, obscure magazines and t-shirts.