A total of 2,000 T-shirts…! The epic story of Hardcore Chocolate’s T-shirt production | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A total of 2,000 T-shirts…! The epic story of Hardcore Chocolate’s T-shirt production

The first installment of "Friday's Collecting Original": "Going to see the T-shirt collection of MUNE, the representative of CoreChoco".

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Collections are interesting. It is fun to look at a substantial collection that has been assembled according to a specific theme, but it is even more interesting to hear about people who are crazy about collecting. In this series, I will visit various collectors and collect episodes related to their collections. Why do we collect things? What lies beyond what we collect? Friday’s Collecting Original” is a collection file that collects collectors.

The T-shirt brand “Hard Core Chocolate” (hereinafter referred to as “Core Chocolate”) is now rapidly gaining fans, even among celebrities. Mr. Masaya Munekata (a.k.a. Mr. MUNE), the designer and representative of the company, designs all of the products, which are released about 100 titles a year. I would love to see his personal T-shirt collection! So, I went to Valentine’s Bar in Higashi-Nakano (also owned by Core Choco) to see his collection…

When I first became interested in T-shirts

There are a lot of celebrities, including professional wrestlers and comedians, who are fans of Hardcore Chocolate’s T-shirts. It’s a perfect expression of how fast you’re flying.

MUNE It’s not that I only like T-shirts, though.

─ T-shirts allow you to express yourself just by wearing a T-shirt with something you like printed on it.

MUNE That’s right. Up until junior high school, people are not very careless about their clothes. My offspring bought me something with English words on it that I didn’t understand, and I just wore it.

Yes. I still wear the jersey my mother bought me at home, and it says “WINNING SPIRITS” on it (laughs).

MUNE Yes, yes. I also have the name of a basketball team that I don’t know what it is.

Also, the name of a basketball team that I don’t know, or the name of an American university that has nothing to do with my life.

MUNE I wore that kind of thing until I was in the eighth grade, and then I started to become more and more interested in fashion and wanted to wear shirts with unusual patterns, so I started to go shopping with my friends.

You were born in Sumida-ku, right? Where did you go to buy clothes?

MUNE I was living in HIKIBUNE at the time, so I would go to Ueno to shop.

So that would be Ameyoko.

MUNE Shinjuku and Shibuya are far away, and I have to change trains. On the other hand, Ueno is easy to get to from my house, and it’s like the holy land of American casual wear. But there are a lot of Harley-Davidson shirts with patterns like eagle or hawk, or skulls, but I just don’t feel comfortable with them.

I know what you mean. I think it’s too major or too easy to understand.

MUNE So, since I liked movies, I started looking for T-shirts of my favorite movies, and I started going to vintage clothing stores in Harajuku.

Do you remember what kind of T-shirts you found?

MUNE “Star Trek”, “Flash Gordon”, and “Star Wars” are now being sold as fast fashion by large corporations, but not like that. I used to buy them when I found them.

With lame! In the 70’s and 80’s, American T-shirts had a lot of lame ink for some reason. I wonder if that was a West Coast culture.

MUNE I don’t have many of the ones I collected back then, but I brought some of them with me.

This is a “Rocky” T-shirt I bought at a vintage clothing store in Harajuku. The thinness of the fabric makes it look like an “imported T-shirt.

Tëm, wow! This is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to show you!

MUNE The color of this one is exquisite. And the fact that it doesn’t use the standard “Rocky” photo is also good.

At that time, there were a lot of cheap American movie T-shirts and character T-shirts being sold at second-hand clothing stores in Japan, weren’t there?

MUNE Yes. From the third year of junior high school to the first year of high school, I was completely immersed in Chicago (vintage clothing store) in Harajuku.

From the 90’s to the 2000’s, digging for such things became popular as a fashionable activity, and you were a pioneer in this field.

MUNE I would spend hours looking at hanger racks from one end to the other. I would go to many, many second-hand clothing stores, and after checking out countless T-shirts, I would finally buy just one and go home.

As a junior or senior high school student, you have limited pocket money and can’t buy that many.

MUNE And one more dress. This one is too small for me to wear.

Three Men and a Baby,” a slapstick comedy about three popular men who take in an abandoned child.

Tom Selleck’s “Three Men and a Baby”! I think it’s hard to find someone who would choose a T-shirt of this.

MUNE I like the small size of this print. Even though I couldn’t wear it myself, I kind of held onto it and bought it. I just have it.

There are probably other people out there who collect movie T-shirts. But for this theme, it’s okay because it’s you, MUNE.

MUNE At the time, everyone around me wore Body Glove or surf brand t-shirts, but I wore a Taxi Driver t-shirt to compete with that.

You tolkin’ to me? That’s disturbing.

MUNE I was still in high school, so I didn’t really understand the merits of “Taxi Driver,” but I was wearing it because it looked cool. But I wore it because it looked cool, like “The Godfather.

You also like punk, don’t you? Did you buy any of those T-shirts?

MUNE Of course, punk T-shirts are good, but I started my own band when I was in the second or third grade. I wanted to wear something different for live performances, so I started collecting T-shirts, not for the band, but for movies and sumo wrestling.


MUNE There’s a store called Oriental Bazaar in Omotesando, which is a general store for tourists from overseas.

It’s near Kiddy Land.

MUNE I bought sumo T-shirts there and Mao Zedong T-shirts at Daichu (a Chinese general store) on Shibuya’s Spanish slope, and I wore them on stage.

I wore them on stage. So you started to make your own T-shirts through these activities.

If I didn’t find the T-shirt I wanted, I would make it myself.

MUNE After I graduated from school and went out into the world, I did the same thing. I just bought T-shirts that I found interesting, and it became like a collection. I started buying T-shirts that I found interesting, and it became like a collection. Wrestling, movies, punk, and so on. So it’s the same as the reason why Core Chocolate exists today.

So it’s just like the existence of core chocolate today.

MUNE Then I was no longer satisfied with what was available on the market, and I gradually developed a desire to make my own. At that time, there were articles in punk magazines about how to make T-shirts. It said, “Put a picture of your favorite band on it, peel it off, and it becomes a T-shirt! That’s right.

It’s an article about how to make T-shirts with iron-on printing.

MUNE That’s what I tried to copy.

MUNE In your book, “How to Create a T-Shirt Brand the Core Chocolate Way,” you wrote that you used an item called “T-Shirt Kun.

MUNE It’s a simple silk screen kit. That’s how I learned the principles of silk, and that’s how I got to where I am today. Here’s a hand-printed one I made at that time.

This is a T-shirt I made myself for “Gensha Taisen”. The main character, Tojo, is printed on the chest, and Vega is printed on the right shoulder with a single point.

The “Gensouma Taisen”! I’ve been wanting to see MUNE’s personal T-shirt collection, but I didn’t expect to see this one left behind. This is a very important piece in the history of Core Chocolate.

MUNE At that time, I was designing haphazardly, so I couldn’t spell Armageddon (laughs). (laughs) Moreover, I didn’t know how to import images, so I tried my best to copy them.


MUNE Besides “Gensouma Taisen”, I made “Battle Without Honor”, “Dinosaur Corps Kosei Don”, and “Kamui Den”. I printed them by hand.

That’s a nice lineup.

Things I used to collect as a child

Let me back up a bit. I think it costs a lot of money to go to thrift stores and collect T-shirts. Did you have a lot of pocket money?

MUNE I didn’t feel that way at the time, but now that I think about it, I guess I had plenty. When I was in elementary school, I received 100 yen a day.

That’s about 3,000 yen a month. MUNE: Your father was a businessman, wasn’t he?

MUNE We both worked, though. When I went to junior high school, the fee was 200 yen, and when I was in high school, the fee was 500 yen a day. My mother also worked and couldn’t make bento, so she gave me 1,000 yen, plus 500 yen, to buy bento.

I would be rich if I had 1,000 yen a day.

MUNE In such a situation, you learn how to manage your allowance. For example, when I was in elementary school, if I kept my expenses to 50 yen for one day, the next day they would increase to 150 yen. I used that money to buy magazines, spend on gacha-gacha, and so on. When I was in high school, it was so bad that I would buy eight loaves of bread at a time and divide them up over several days. I didn’t have any side dishes, so I would ask the girls in my class to share their lunches with me and we would eat them (laughs). (laughs) That way, I can dramatically reduce my allowance.

(laughs). So you took the money you had saved and poured it into your favorite things. Is there anything you used to collect?

MUNE When I was in elementary school, I would collect Kink erasers (Kinnikuman erasers) and monster erasers, but I didn’t think of them as a collection.

I don’t really think of it as a collection.

The bar counter at Valentine’s Day is lined with various toys and movie items mixed in with liquor bottles.

MUNE I consciously bought comics by Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko Fujio to build my collection.

Tezuka comics are, by any chance, those? The white backed “Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works” from Kodansha.

MUNE Yes, that’s it!   When the bookshelves in my house are filled with them, I start to want them one after another. As for Fujiko Fujio, everyone in my class had Tento Mushi Comics, but I thought that was a bit naive, so I bought Sun Comics, and there was a bookstore in my neighborhood that still had old stock, so I bought “Futa-kun” and “Jungle Kurobe” and put them together. That was the beginning of my collection.

That was the beginning of my collection. ─ Manga and books are easy to collect because you can put them on a shelf and look at them all at once.

MUNE When I was in junior high school, I was a fan of Onyanko Club, so I bought “Dunk” and “BOMB”. I thought it would be cool to put them together since they were small size magazines (A5 size).

I thought it would be cool to put them together. ─ It’s a soft collection, a little different from your public image (laughs). I thought you would go for something more like miniature cars or Burmaak monster dolls, but it’s not so surprising.

MUNE No, I did have some monsters, but I didn’t think of collecting them.  I didn’t think of collecting them. I also had Calbee professional baseball cards, but I didn’t feel like keeping them and looking at them on ……. I just put them in a box.

I don’t feel like a collector when I hang out with MUNE-san. For example, the shelves of DVDs on the wall of this store are breathtaking, but you don’t really feel like a collector, do you?

The DVD shelves are one of Valentine’s Day’s landmarks. Action, kung-fu, and horror movies are all lined up in a row.

MUNE That’s right. I just buy the movies I want to see as my interest takes me. That’s why I buy new DVDs, but I don’t mind if they’re out of rental as long as they can be played properly. I don’t even want to buy the collector’s edition. I’m not even interested in the bonus discs. I just like the movie itself, and I don’t really want to see the story behind the making of the movie, or the director’s story.

I don’t really want to see the story behind the making of the film or the director’s talk. What about professional wrestling? Have you liked it since you were a child?

MUNE Yes, I have loved wrestling since I was in the second grade.

Didn’t you collect wrestling goods?

MUNE Pro wrestling goods are a bit expensive. The best I could do was to subscribe to a wrestling magazine, and masks, even if they were replicas, were not something that a child could buy with his allowance. There were some cheap masks that cost about 3,000 yen, but I had already realized how shabby they were when I was in elementary school.

MUNE If I were to buy one, I would have to buy something like this.

MUNE If I was going to buy a mask, I wanted one for the game, not this kind, so I never got into it. Then, when I was in the first year of junior high school, my friends and I went to a wrestling store called “Idol” in Shinjuku for the first time, and I bought a 7,000 yen Elkanek semi-pro mask. It was a grade lower than the ones for matches, but I thought it was worth the 7,000 yen for this quality. However, it was still too expensive for me to collect it.

─ Even if the quality and price are well balanced, 7,000 yen for one item is not something that a junior or senior high school student can easily afford, isn’t it?

MUNE That’s right. You can’t buy it unless you get a New Year’s gift. So the real core wrestling fans would wait at Korakuen Hall and negotiate with the Mexican wrestlers to get them, but I never went that far.

What about trekas? Pro wrestling cards.

MUNE They didn’t come out until I was over 20. If they had been around when I was a kid, I might have gotten into it. Actually, I don’t have much to collect in the way of wrestling. I didn’t have any figurines, or erasers at most.

So you mean there were products that were not erasers, but erasers of actual wrestlers?

MUNE Yes, yes. That’s about it.

When you were in junior high school, professional wrestling was still in its heyday, and it was even televised, wasn’t it?


I don’t know anything about professional wrestling, so I can’t really talk about it in depth (laughs).

My hobby led me to start a movie rental shop.

MUNE Then there’s movies. Movies are my number one hobby. I still remember going to a friend’s house when I was in the fifth grade and seeing all the video cassettes that his father collected. On the back of each cassette was an index (title label) from a movie magazine or something, and I felt very jealous of that sight. So when I got a VCR, I started by dubbing.

So it’s not enough to just rent a VCR and watch it?

MUNE Yes, I longed to see those cassettes lined up, so I had to dub them and keep them with me. So I took a deck to my friend’s house and connected two of them together to dub the movies I had rented. Then I would make a label with the title imitated on it and put it on.

Young Mr. MUNE hand-drew the titles on the labels (both photos courtesy of Mr. Masaya Munekata).

You even did the lettering yourself! Isn’t that the origin of what you are doing now?

MUNE That’s right, if you ask me. Anyway, I liked dubbing. I liked it more than watching movies (laughs). So when I was in the eighth grade, I opened a video rental shop in the school. I would write down the lineup in the student handbook, show it to my friends, and rent it out for 50 yen a piece.

Wow, that’s some business spirit! I wonder if I should write this story. I don’t know if I should write about this, but the statute of limitations has run out.

MUNE So I collected a lot of dubbed cassettes, but by the time I was in the third grade, I decided that I wanted to have at least one properly packaged video. But at the time, videos were expensive.

─ That’s right. A movie cost about 15,000 yen.

MUNE I couldn’t afford it, so I gave up, but then rental copies gradually became available, and I bought “Beverly Hills Cop 2” for about 2,980 yen. It was 16,000 yen, but now it’s 10,500 yen. It was 16,000 yen, but now it’s 10,500 yen. When I think about it now, it’s expensive. So I bought “The Untouchables” with my New Year’s gift.

It’s a masterpiece by Brian De Palma.

MUNE When I saw the videos of “Beverly Hills Cop 2” and “Untouchable” side by side, I wanted them even more.

Oh, no, that’s not good. It’s a good incentive, isn’t it? So that’s where I ended up with this Valentine’s Day wall (laughs). (laughs) What was the first film that made you fall in love with movies?

MUNE Well, I don’t know. I don’t know… I think it was when I was shown “Dead Man’s Clothes” at a friend’s house.

That must have been a shock to you.

MUNE I had seen the movie before, but at that time I thought, “This is it! I thought, “This is it! And my friend said, “There’s something great! I felt gerala because my friend brought it to me.

I was a little jealous that my friend brought it to me.

MUNE I thought that was always my role! I thought that was always my role! I was so frustrated because I felt like I had fallen behind. That’s why I worked so hard to find “Werewolf American,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and “The Devil’s Poisonous Monster. It’s funny to say that I found them (laughs).

(laughs) Well, I mean I was the first among my friends to discover them.

A loose cap collection

MUNE By the way, when I read Tomisawa-san’s book (*”Infinite Bookshelf: A Collection Theory for the Age of Letting Go”, Chikuma Bunko), I thought I’d like to collect something too, so I’ve decided to loosely collect hats. I have a rule that I only buy hats when I go abroad.

That’s good. The collection becomes more interesting when you set rules.

MUNE That’s why I don’t have that many. I also buy fake items if I think they are interesting. This is the one I bought when I went to Korea. ……

Hahaha, Pop Yoshimura!

MUNE Yoshimura (*Yoshimura Japan is a motorcycle accessory manufacturer. (*Yoshimura Japan is a motorcycle accessories manufacturer, and their logo stickers are very popular among riders.

It’s only red and white.

MUNE’s cap collection. I enjoy the coloring, which is not possible for official products.

MUNE I thought it was cool. This orange one is the Hanwha Eagles of Korea. Also, the fake Texaco cap was bought in Korea. When I make a rule to buy something overseas, I have to buy something even if it’s just something weird.

This JA has embroidered on it …… “Nara Rice”. Where do you buy a cap from the Nara Agricultural Cooperative?

MUNE Malaysia. I do this kind of loose collection.

T ─ Well, this is an unexpectedly good collection.

T-shirts have become a part of the collection.

How many new items does Hardcore Chocolate release each year?

MUNE I design a T-shirt about every three days, so that’s about 100 titles a year.

MUNE You design all of these by yourself, don’t you?

MUNE Yes, but I’m getting the hang of it now, so it’s not that hard.

I see. I’m sorry to say this, but you have a certain design pattern, don’t you?

MUNE Yes, I do. I’ve been consciously creating patterns since the early days. I have about ten patterns in my mind, design A, design B, and design C. If I can fit materials into these patterns, I can get a lot of work done.

T.K.: I see. It’s not a hobby, it’s a job, so it’s natural to try to improve efficiency.

MUNE When you design at that pace, your senses become numb and you don’t think to yourself, “I want to wear this. That’s why I started to say, “Give me the print that I made a mistake with.

So I started asking for the ones with the wrong print.

MUNE When it comes to T-shirts, I’m not a collector anymore, I’m the one who makes people collect them. That’s why I numbered the Ultra Monster series so that people would collect them from the beginning. I’ve already made about 70 or 80 of them.

Do you know how many kinds of Core Chocolate T-shirts there are at this point?

MUNE I’ m often asked that question, but I don’t know. I have been doing this for 20 years, so I have about 2000 items.

What is your favorite?

MUNE My favorite or ……. Tomisawa-san’s “The Devil’s Poisonous Monster,” which she is wearing today, is pretty high on my list. I also like …… (while flipping through my second book, “The Complete Work of Core Chocolate T-shirts”) This “Gamera” is also a favorite. When I went to the distribution company to get materials, they had a picture of the back of the film, so I thought of using that as the back print and reversing the logo.

I thought about reversing the logo.

MUNE I also like “Hostel 2”. Around this time, I started to wake up in terms of design, and I started to understand the balance between hand-drawn letters and fonts. I feel like I was able to establish my current style from this point on.

─ Well, aside from winter, in the summer, do you wear a Koa Choco T-shirt most of the time?

MUNE Yes, that’s right ( laughs). (laughs) As the person in charge of the brand, I am aware that I have to do my best to promote it.

Aiming for overseas expansion! The future of Hardcore Chocolate

Have you bought any other T-shirts since you started Hardcore Chocolate?

MUNE Yes, I do (laughs). (laughs) If there is a design that I really want, I buy it. This is a “Machete” T-shirt that I bought when I went to America.

Oh, I want that one too!

This is the first starring role of Danny Trejo, whom we all love. Trejo’s daring pose and the blood splatter behind him are awesome!

MUNE I’d like to see the motifs and the colors. I try to buy them if there is something that I like. But I rarely do. I’m more of a technical person, and I think, “Oh, I wish I could do this …….

I’ve been working on it for 20 years.

MUNE Especially if it’s a motif I like, I tend to look at it that way even more. “If it were me, I’d make it like this.

Do you have a favorite T-shirt brand?

MUNE No, I don’t think so. There is a t-shirt shop in the U.S. called Pro Wrestling T’s. It’s a kind of core chocolate shop that specializes in pro wrestling. The other day, I ordered a T-shirt of an old wrestler named David Schultz. The other day I ordered a T-shirt of an old wrestler named David Schultz, and when I put it on, it was so flimsy and shabby that I thought, “What the hell is this?

I thought, “What the hell is this?

MUNE So I don’t really have a favorite brand. However, I often go to UNIQLO to study. Recently, I’ve noticed that UNIQLO’s stories and designs are getting closer and closer to mine (Core Chocolate) (laughs).

(laughs). – Haha, the times have caught up with me.

(laughs) – Haha, the time has caught up with me. MUNE You don’t usually do “Shota’s Sushi”. Also, although it’s not UNIQLO, there are t-shirts from Mintei and Chouraku, and I’m jealous of those. I’m jealous of them. Well, I guess it’s inevitable that when you make it your job, you start to think that way.

─ I think that the number of fans of Core Choco itself is increasing, and they are buying it because it is Core Choco, rather than because they like the design. That’s why I wondered if it would be possible to make a subs for Koa Choco.

MUNE Haha ha. People often say, “Once you get hooked on Core Chocolate, you’ll get mugged! That’s what I’m often told. They say, “Once you get hooked on CoreChoco, you’ll be robbed!” They say that they have no choice but to buy the T-shirts they like because they are released one after another.

So, if you pay about 10,000 yen a month, you will receive three or four random T-shirts every month.

MUNE I don’t know, I wonder if anyone would like that.

What do you think of the future of Core Chocolate? I heard in an interview that you are a KoaChoco comedian on “Ametok! In an interview, you said that you wanted to be a Koa Choco comedian on “Ametalk!

MUNE Yes, yes.

Yes, yes. Because there are a lot of comedians who are fans of Koa Choco now, like Daikichi from Hakata Kakamaru Daikichi.

MUNE Also, Koji Higashino wore a “Norio Yoshio T-shirt” on a TV show the other day. There are also people like Jiro Hachimitsu and Makita Sports.

─ Yes, the “Norio Yoshio” and “Ikuyo Kuruyo” series of legendary comedians probably spread the name of Core Chocolate among comedians. As a company, we’ve grown, and we’re now able to make T-shirts of the biggest comedians. We also held a film festival sponsored by CoreChoco. Do you have any further dreams?

MUNE The only thing left is to expand overseas.

Oh, wow!

MUNE Actually, I’ve been approached about that a few times. “I’ve been approached a few times by people asking me to be their distributor. I always respond positively to such requests. For example, we’ve released a number of Toei titles, but we’ve always only licensed them domestically. So, if the agency can clear the overseas development, I’m totally okay with it.

So if you think of overseas sales as an extension of that, it’s not so absurd. I like the idea of overseas expansion.

MUNE Yes. Expanding overseas is my main goal right now.

(Notes after the interview)
As I was wearing “The Devil’s Poisonous Monster” on the day of the interview, I myself love to wear the Hardcore Chocolate T-shirts on a daily basis. However, I applied for this interview because I wanted to see MUNE’s personal T-shirt collection without worrying about that. I was surprised to find out that he still had some of his hand-printed T-shirts from when he was making them himself. I loved those “Gensha Taisen” T-shirts! I’d definitely buy one if they reprinted it as “MUNE Early Days” with the original design (with the logo still stuck in traffic)!

(This series will be updated on the first Friday of every month. (This series is updated on the first Friday of every month, and the next one will be on December 3rd. Please look forward to it!

  • Interview and text by Akihito Tomisawa

    A self-proclaimed professional collector who continues to study the ecology of people who are obsessed with collecting. He is a self-proclaimed professional collector. Dairiku Card no Sekai" (Sairyusha), "Hitokui Eiga Matsuri" (Tatsumi Shuppan), "Mugen no Hondana" (Chikuma Shobo), "Record Koshi no Sengo Shi" (P-VINE), etc. His books are all related to collections.

  • Photography Reina Shimada

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