Ximending (西門町) Promenade from catherine_sr. on Vimeo.

I recently purchased a Digital Harinezumi (or digihari) from my favorite camera store, Big Camera (相機王, Xiàng​jī ​Wáng, literally “camera king”​). It’s a neat little camera that takes digital video with the feel of 8mm film, as well as still shots. I adore toy camera photography and how it is helping to keep film photography alive, but I also enjoy the immediate gratification of the digihari. It is tiny and lightweight enough that I can keep it in my purse all the time.

My digihari (harinezumi means “hedgehog” in Japanese) and I recently skipped over to Ximending, Taipei’s answer to Harajuku, and made the short video above. The music is from singer/songwriter Deserts Chang‘s (張懸, Zhāng Xuán) latest album, City (城市, Chéng​shì​).

I have a love/hate relationship with Ximending. It was my favorite place in Taipei when I visited Ron in late 2006. I just could not get enough of all the kawaii posters and shop signs, the crazy clothes and the theme restaurants. Ximending was set up as an entertainment district under Japanese rule and there are still some very lovely colonial-era buildings there, the most famous of which is Red House Theater (西門紅樓, xī​mén​ hóng​lóu).​ But I very rarely head over there on weekends now, in part because navigating the crowds of (mostly) teenagers and tourists drives me crazy. Friday evenings are especially bad, in my opinion, because all the students still have their book bags, jammed full with sharp-cornered items. Oh, my rib cage! But I still enjoy my outings there for the most part.

I also recommend Big Camera. It’s right across the street from Shilin MRT station’s exit 1. The address is 10, Ln 404, Wenlin Rd, Taipei City (台北市文林路404巷10號), (02) 2880-2887. I found them when I did some research on the Internet while shopping for a new camera lens. Their prices are very reasonable, and their service (which is relaxed and not pushy at all) has gotten good reviews from other customers. Big Camera also has a decent selection of toy cameras and different size film. I haven’t developed 120 film in Taipei yet, but my Big Camera sales guy told me that Jazz Photo Gallery (爵士攝影藝廊) on Bade Rd works with unusual film formats. Their address is 433, Bade Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市八德路二段433號2F), (02) 2721-9003.