Looks like someone was kind enough to rewind back to 20 years ago.


Considering what a technologically advanced and media-hungry country Japan is, people are often surprised to learn that the country still has a large number of video rental stores. I’ve got one in my neighborhood that’s clean and stocked with the latest releases, and it’s actually kind of nice for when I want to watch a movie without having to worry about my Internet connection, online region codes, or anything else that can make streaming services a hassle.

But Twitter user @ayukawaarisa recently stumbled across something that’s rare even in Japan: a video rental store where the entire stock is still on VHS.

Sitting unassumingly along the side of a road in Mie Prefecture is video rental shop Joyful. The signs at the entrance to its dusty parking lot proudly tout that the shop is open every day all-year round, and that there’s no membership or sign-up fees. There’s even a special going on right now, which allows you to rent five tapes for a whole week for 1,000 yen (US$9), in case you’re catching up on your personal backlog of unseen ’80s action movies.

Waiting inside are monolithic monuments to the magnetic tape era, as Joyful’s ownership apparently never saw any benefit in stocking those new-fangled DVDs all those kids who’re now in their 30s got so excited about. That, obviously, means that you won’t find any movies that were released anywhere close to recently, but if you’re completely committed to classic films on analog media, @ayukawaarisa says that Joyful is also offering tapes for sale for 1,000 yen each, if you’d rather have one movie forever than five for seven days.

Online reactions included:

“Wow. It’s like some place where time stopped in the ‘90s.”
“At first I thought he was tweeting an old photo from 30 years ago.”
“Such a nostalgic sight.”
“Even if I rented something from them, I don’t have a VCR anymore. It’s so tragic.”
“I bet some of the videos are cursed.”
“It’s like you discovered an ancient ruin.”

Regarding that last comment, Joyful is located in Ise, the same city as the Ise Shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shintoism. While Joyful’s historical significance isn’t quite as deep, it’s still a relic of a part of modern culture that within a generation will probably be as extinct as the general stores of the Old West or blacksmith shops of the medieval era. With Joyful offering its movies for sale, it probably won’t be long before it finally closes its doors for good, so it’s nice to have some photo to remember it by.

Shop information
Joyful / ジョイフル
Address: Mie-ken, Ise-shi, Sochi-cho, 2211-2
三重県伊勢市佐八町2211−2

Source: Twitter/@ayukawaarisa via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@ayukawaarisa
Top image: Google

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can’t bring himself to throw out his Bubblegum Crisis VHS tapes.