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Japan

Day 21: A morning in Akihabara, Tokyo’s Electric Town

This morning we returned to Akihabara and to see what we missed out the first time around. When we first arrived in Tokyo about 3 weeks earlier we decided to visit Akihabara. At that time we had a tour guide who was walking us around certain parts of the city. The weather rainy so we spent most of our time in one department store with many floors. I believe the store is called Bic Camera. It was a great experience, but nothing like today.

Read my first article: “An Afternoon in Akihabara Tokyo“.

You can read Linaka’s article here: “Day 21: Last Day in Tokyo – Akihabara and Harajuku“.

Returning to Akihabara (Electric Town)

Akihabara

The first time Linaka and I went to Akihabara, it was cold and raining. We went to the first building visible from the subway station and we spent the rest of our time in that store. The great thing about it was that it was so big that you could easily think that all of the electronic stores would fit there. However, this time around we visited on a bright and sunny day, the weather was warm and we explored the streets of Akihabara.

The signs in Akihabara are welcoming. As soon as you start exploring the streets you see a rainbow of signs advertising anime, manga, toy robots, maids and much more. Walking from store to store, you see model toys, robots, all types of electronic parts as well as computers. There are many places to buy anime (dvd and comics) as well as many cafes including several competing maid cafes.

The Maid Cafes

Since we had never been to one, we decided to visit one of the local maid cafes. You could see maids on the street advertising and trying to lure in customers. Lucky for us, we wanted to see what it was all about. A maid led us into the nearest cafe. The actual place we went to seemed a little small, but there were several tables and stools. The smaller tables had a fee to sit at. There was also a stage for taking pictures with the maids and I think to karaoke at night. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but if we wanted a picture we could buy a photo with a maid. All the servants inside were dressed as maids and if you wanted to order something, you needed to make cat sounds to request a maid.

Maidreamin in Akihabara

It was funny, but the point of the maid cafe was to make things look cute and fun. Oh and if you wanted to order something, you could not order for just one person, every person in your party was required to order something. All in all, it could get expensive if you don’t know what you are getting into. We did have fun, ordered some french fries and a milk shake. The milk shake looked cute. Once we had our fill of the maid cafe we went on exploring more of Akihabara. Not surprising, there were other maid cafes competing for customers in the back streets.

A maid in Akihabara

Toys, anime and robots

Exploring Akihabara can be a lot of fun. Every other store carries toys, models, electronic parts, and entertainment such as Playstation and Xbox games. The first building we saw when we came out of the train station was a big red building with the word Sega on it. But what was more interesting was going to a single shop that sold models or toys and seeing several floors, each representing different shops specializing in different types of models. For example one floor may specialize in selling Gundam toys, while another floor sold Dragonball Z or other anime characters. Exploring these buildings you never know what you are going to find out there.

Outside Akihabara Station

Initially, we went to Akihabara to find robots. Linaka and I were interested in either buying a robot or buying parts to build a robot. Our first guide did not know what we were looking for, but she did point us in the right direction. The first time around we did not find real robots, just toy models. But this time around, we found “Robot Center”, your one stop place for finding robots and robot parts. It was a small store, but it was a fascinating place to visit. Unfortunately for us, it was our last day exploring Tokyo and we had already purchased most of what we wanted. Visiting the robot store was one of our highlights we enjoyed about Japan.

Robot Center

Conclusion

Walking around Akihabara can be an all day event. In my opinion, exploring properly could take a few days. Unless you know in advance what you want to get out of Akihabara in advance. The best way to explore the area is to research online and find out what stores you can find there. If you like anime, there are plenty of stores around for it. If you are looking for collector dolls or models, again there are plenty of stores that specialize is just those items. A bit of research can help save you a lot of time. But at the same time getting lost in Akihabara can be fun.

So our second time around Akihabara was much more fun. The weather was nicer and we explored various streets and stores. We never expected to see so much, so many colors and so much entertainment in one area. If we visit Japan again in the future, Akihabara will definitely be one of the places we will most like return to. Once we were done exploring in the morning, we spent the afternoon in Harajuku (the next article).

Categories
Japan

Day 2: An Afternoon in Akihabara Tokyo

This is part of a series which records the first hand account of our first time trip to Japan in 2014. You can find Linaka’s account on her blog.

After spending our morning in Ueno, our tour guide Michiko took us to eat at the restaurants in Akihabara Tokyo. Because it was raining we only got to see one department store. Since we had never been to this area before, we did not know what to expect.

Michiko took us to Yodobashi Camera, a large department store with many floors full of technology. We spent about an hour in the food court eating some delicious cabbage and egg meals. Surprisingly, the combination worked very well. Watching the chef cook our meal on the spot was just as entertaining. Each table had a hot plate in the centre to cook a meal. Sadly, an image alone does not do the food justice, you have to eat it for yourself to know how good it is.

Akihabara Lunch

Akihabara toys, dvds and electronics

After lunch, we spent the rest of the day exploring the different floors of the store. There were so many movies on DVD and Bluray that it was hard to know where they began and ended. In addition to the movies there were many games for the latest xbox and Playstation systems. Unfortunately for us, most were all in Japanese. I considered buying a Dragonball z dvd, but there was no translation or subtitles in English and I just didn’t know enough Japanese to understand it all.

Akihabara Entertainment

A Godzilla fan

As we walked through the models section, we saw everything from model cars to ships and many different robots. There were models for Gundam, Macross Universe and many old anime I used to watch when I was a boy. The detail of these models were amazing. But what stood out the most were the miniature models of Godzilla.

Ever since I was a boy, I had always watched Godzilla movies. And when we came to Tokyo, one of my missions was to find a statue or model of Godzilla. To my surprise and happiness, there it was. Not only did I find Godzilla, but also many of Godzilla’s enemies such as Mega-Godzilla and many others. Sadly, I did not see a model of King Kong anywhere.

Besides that, I also saw models of old cartoons I used to watch on tv when I was a boy. For example there were many models of Transor-Z, the Japanese name for the model was different. Michiko told me that this cartoon is popular in Japan. There were also many Gundum and a live action film of G-force, a cartoon I used to watch.

Conclusion

We ended the day by leaving Akihabara and going to Ginza to look at some of the other shops. We actually didn’t get to see Akihabara, we only saw one department store, it wasn’t until later in the trip that we returned to properly explore the area.

In Ginza the shops ranged from clothing to tech (Apple store), but Linaka wanted to see the best stationary Japan has to offer. Overall it was a long and strenuous day.

We thank Michiko for a great day and rode the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line back to Asakusa. We got to the hotel and Linaka passed out for 3 hours. I stayed up for a while before I needed to take a nap. We got up in the evening and bought some donuts. Linaka found out that 7-11 sold corn dogs, a delicious American food that she fell in love with. It looks like we may be going back there to buy some more in the days to come.

Tomorrow we spend a day out in Nikko. I’m sure we’ll have great pictures to share for this great trip. Stay tuned for the next posting.