VHS Café Is a Third Space for Tokyo’s Young Filmmakers

Tan Pen Ton

While the video store has long since disappeared from the shopping street, a VHS Café recently opened in Tokyo. This third space is an urban living room for the local film community starring the good old video tape.

A Members’ Club for Tokyo’s Film Community

Tan Pen Ton is a members’ club in the bustling Shimokitazawa district where Tokyo’s subculture of filmmakers and enthusiasts can share their passion for the medium. In a relaxed atmosphere, they can interact and watch films in a way that is increasingly rare in today’s digital world. The membership card, designed in the shape of a cassette tape, adds a touch of nostalgia to the experience. The café is an initiative of film startup company Nothing New with the aim of creating more opportunities for young filmmakers.

Tan Pen Ton

Building Community Hubs for the Niche and Passionate

We live in a time when cultures and cities around the world are being stripped of their authenticity and becoming increasingly similar. The Verge introduced the term airspace years ago to describe this trend. David Perell calls it the microwave economy. A place like the VHS Café is an interesting spatial concept because it brings together an authentic urban subculture in one place. Even beyond Tokyo, similar spaces can thrive in other cities. While the “critical mass” of a bustling subculture like Tokyo’s might not exist everywhere, the core concept of the café can be adapted to cater to various local communities. Niche communities exist in most cities, and a thoughtfully designed space could become a haven for them to connect and celebrate their shared passion.