In August, Tokyoites and travelers of the otaku persuasion bid bittersweet farewells to the Sega Akihabara Building 2 arcade and Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae PC parts shop, two of the most recognizable landmarks of the neighborhood. Now comes word that another Tokyo landmark is shutting down, this time across town in the Shinjuku district, with the upcoming closure of the Labi Shinjuku Higashiguchi Building electronics store.
Located near the east exit of Shinjuku Station, the Labi branch has become a symbol of the neighborhood since opening in April of 2010. Standing tall on a corner just across the street from the tracks of the Yamanote Line that loops around downtown Tokyo, the building could be easily spotted from the train, almost as if it was saying “Welcome to Shinjuku!” as you rolled into the neighborhood.
It’s even been immortalized in anime and manga form, appearing in Makoto Shinkai’s Shinjuku-set "Weathering with You" and a recent chapter of manga artist Kenji Hayakawa’s "Deka ni Arazu," among other works.
But on Sept 11 Yamada Denki, Labi’s parent company, announced that the store will be closing on Oct 4. Many have voiced their sadness at the sudden parting, but unlike the gamers and PC builders who shed tears for Sega Akihabara Building 2 arcade and Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae PC, most people’s fond memories of Labi Shinjuku Higashiguchi aren’t of things they bought or did inside the building, but of the experiences they had outside of it.
That’s because mounted to the side of the building is Yunika Vision, a gigantic video monitor display even by Tokyo skyscraper standards.
Yuika Vision has long been a popular place for music labels to show off their performers’ latest videos, particularly for screening anime themes, idol songs, and boy band numbers, with the ample amount of screen space sometimes allowing for flourishes that wouldn’t be possible on smaller displays.
Part of what makes Yunika Vision special is that there’s a large plaza kitty-corner from it, which allows for fans to gather and have an unobstructed view of the screen. And unlike the multiple competing screens at Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing a few stops farther south on the Yamanote Line, where their sounds often blend into an indecipherable cacophony, Yunika Vision has this corner all to itself, all the better for fans who want to clearly see and hear their favorite recording artists.
Although Labi Shinjuku Higashiguchi is shutting down, it’s not yet clear what will become of the building. It is, after all, a prime piece of downtown Tokyo real estate and the structure is only 10 years old, so it’s possible that another tenant will choose to move right in instead of demolishing and rebuilding, and if that happens, they may also decide to keep running Yunika Vision, since the location is a highly coveted one for advertisers. Still, if you want to be sure of getting one last look of the Labi/Yunika Vision combo as it was, you’ve got less than a month to do it.
Labi Shinjuku Higashiguchi Building / Labi新宿東口館
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-23-7
Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Source: Yamada Denki via Hachima Kiko
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