Saying goodbye to Swimmer: a final haul

In early June 2017, kawaii zakka chain Swimmer shocked everyone by announcing they’d be closing in January 2018. It wasn’t just a shock that it’d be happening – to reveal the news that early took us by surprise.

Swimmer has gives us cute, random but useful stuff for over 30 years:

  • Clothes hanger chandeliers
  • Fun bento boxes and storage
  • Suitcases you’d easily spot on the carousel
  • Headphones that get people staring at your ears
  • Bags and smartphone cases that look like sweets
  • Pens in every shape except ‘pen’ shaped

The style fits really well with girly-kei, fairy-kei, and that type of look. And even if that’s not your main style, the cuteness is hard to resist. We’ve owned a bunch of Swimmer stuff. The cupcake headphones were a great choice, years back…

As popular and fun as the brand was, it’s definitely closing for good. A couple of Swimmer stores closed around Christmas 2016, so there was something up. They even started selling off the display shelves on Twitter… We did our best to get in before the end, and pick up as much cute stuff as we could.

The cutest Japan merch haul we’ve ever done

This haul was done back in late October 2017. The nearest Swimmer shop to our office tweeted about a ‘30% off’ sale, so we had to go see.

The size of this haul proves it was worth going. Everything here’s gonna be useful.

Our biggest win, hands down, is the Tamagotchi-style pass case and pouch. It’s a good size for holding accessories, and we love the Engrish on the front. “Hi, my friend. What are you up to tonight?”

They were being a bit sneaky with the very small stuff – it was all taped together, and couldn’t be bought separately. So if you wanted a mini towel, or something, you had to get at least 3. That’s why we have 2 notebooks, and 2 memo pads shaped like dresses.

After writing on the memo paper, it folds up into a shirt-shaped envelope. We’re suckers for stuff like that.

We picked up a couple of umbrella-shaped mechanical pencils to go with the notepads. Thought they were pens, whoops. Never mind.

Oh, and our haul included a proper umbrella (also discounted). It works as a sun parasol when it’s not raining. The check pattern’s smart, and the gold handle makes it look more expensive. We think so, anyway.

This cute polar bear ramen spoon was the last one on the shelf. Lucky us! We can see why it was so popular. That bow tie is adorable. It’s too big to use with the bento boxes, though, so we got a matching cutlery set.

And if you didn’t think it’s possible to make anything kawaii, check this pastel teddy bear box cutter and the ‘cookie’ nail clippers.

To finish off the haul, there are 2 hand towels we’ve been using as backgrounds, along with a mini tissue pack holder. Still enjoying the random English on these. ‘Peace begins with Swimmer’ is gonna be sad to read when Swimmer’s gone, and we have to get our peace somewhere else.

What you see here’s just a selection. There were way more items we didn’t grab. (Like hell were we gonna take suitcases and folding chairs on the subway…)

Do we regret not buying more stuff? Yeah, sure we do. We hope we never see someone using the phone case shaped like a milk carton. Might have to arm wrestle them for it.

So, where else can the kawaii lovers go?

Swimmer closes down for good at the end of this month. We tried thinking of where else to find similar cute stuff, and here are our ideas:

WEGO – not long opened their first zakka shop, WEGO 1.3.5., on Harajuku’s Takeshita-doori. WEGO saw the gap Swimmer made in the cheap, cute lifestyle goods market, and they totally went for it. The style isn’t full-on kawaii, but it’s close enough.

Sun Houseki – THE closest to Swimmer for accessories, stationery, and zakka items at low prices. Not all of it’s kawaii – they sell so much stuff, basically every style’s in there somewhere.

Nile Perch – this brand’s got pastel and fairy covered. It’s a fashion brand first, with zakka goods, hair accessories and phone cases on the side. They also did a Nile Perch x Little Twin Stars collab.

PINK-latte – mainly for the bags and accessories. Their purses, pass cases, hand towels and umbrellas are real similar to Swimmer’s, in both styles and colours. Pricing’s nice and reasonable.

Mikazuki Momoko – the cutest 300-yen (324 with tax!) shop we can think of. (3Coins is also great, less kawaii but good value.) We enjoy the randomness of the item line-up, like the mini pool table.

We’ll stay on the lookout for similar shops to get our kawaii fix. Check out DEJAPAN to see all the cute stuff from Japan you can buy online.

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