Woke up relatively early this morning to… Aww, again?
I didn’t let that entirely stop me though, I still ended up going to 秋葉原 (Akihabara) this evening. I didn’t take many pictures though. If you wanted a bunch of pictures of the wacky things in Akihabara, you can find that anywhere. I’ll just write about some interesting observations regarding the area.
To get to Akihabara, most people take the JR 山手線 (Yamanote Line). This line is famous for being the main loop around many of the cool places in central Tokyo (including 新宿 原宿 渋谷 東京 上野、品川、等々 – Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Tokyo, Ueno, Shinagawa, etc). The line also sports two color LCD panels above each door (on both sides). One panel displays running TV/Targeted Ads (including wonderful ads from Nintendo), the other contains pertinent train stop information. Actually, this (and JR lines in particular) are sometimes the only line most foreigners even learn about.
I only mention this because I took the 京急 (Keikyu) line to 品川 (Shinagawa) just to transfer to the JR line and go to Akihabara. It took about 45 minutes from where I’m living. The Keikyu lines aren’t quite as pimped out as any of the JR lines, but they are nice and the rates always seem lower. So if you ever have the option, I would recommend it.
Akihabara 秋葉原 is the geek district of Tokyo. Full of electronics and gadgets games and collectibles and models (of all shapes and sizes, yes those kinds of models too) and sex shops and porn and cafes where girls dress up as french maids. It’s weird, to say the least. You’ll see Otaku (geeks) everywhere and nowhere. There is some common belief that Otakus where a certain style of clothing and act a certain way and can’t even socially interact in society. I think I’ve seen maybe 2 people total like that. And there are millions of people in Akiba (nickname) everytime I go, I counted. People are constantly swarming in and out of these tiny little boutique shops in search of that perfect collectible trading card/model/figuring/game/gadget/toy/etc
Anyway, it’s always fascinating to see business-people in their 30-50s shopping and picking up tiny collectible action figures (you know, the kind you gave up when you were in 5th grade). Even more fascinating to see women participating in this in almost equal numbers. I’m not sure at which age most Westerners give up toys and collectible things, but it’s an interesting thing to wonder why we do and why others don’t.
Even more fascinating, is the entire concept of collectibles (models, cards, whatever) as a hobby (or for fans), which in turn creates jobs (and more fanatics) to support the hobby (finding the rarest collectibles and selling them), which in turn creates more collectors of rare collectibles, which… I haven’t thought that far ahead, but it’s a damn amazing concept. And Akihabara seems to embrace the idea fully.
But in all honesty, while all of the small boutique shops right around the JR station are a treat to watch, you’ll get a much better deal by walking two blocks down to the gigantic Yodobashi Camera. Yodobashi Camera (in Akiba) deserves an article just to itself. Imagine a Best Buy (or… Electroworld, MediaMarkt, etc) x 10 floors; with the latest everything, most things always in stock, and the lowest prices. Damn, I love that place.
Ah, there is one boutique store Akiba that has stuff you won’t find in Yodobashi Camera. If you’re looking for really geeky stuff like specialty Video Game Music CDs, Manga, Specialty Anime, etc. That store is called K-Books, and it rocks (because I love all that stuff).
Funniest Manga name I’ve seen in awhile: メルティブらッド、that would be: Melty Blood. So, blood, that uh.. is melty? Melty meaning it is melt-ish? Whatever it means, it made me smile quite a bit when I first read it.
I don’t even remember what I originally went for. Oh, to buy the next chapter of One Piece (and スーパーマリオ君 if I could find it).
Oh, and just to prove I did leave the house today, I did take one classic pic of a very common occurrence on the train:
さって Sorry for not taking as many pictures of 秋葉原 as most do, but I promise, you’ll find much more interesting (and with a much better camera) simply by typing Akihabara into a google image search 😉
See you tomorrow! バイバイ！
The Lazy Man’s Way to Tokyo, Day 6