One of the places we decided to sightsee was Akibahara. Akiba is the Tokyo’s electronics district where one can supposedly find all manner of techno-gadgetry. Basically think of it as Sim Lim Square but spread out over an whole district. Unfortunately, Akiba, is all too much like SLS. For the most part, Japan is reputed to be the heartland of all things electrical, technological, and also impractical. Coming to Akiba, we all had expectations and visions of countless shops that displayed an array of useless but yet cool devices such as novelty robotics, or all other manner of things that flash and light up.
Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Most of the shop inventories revolved around either video games, computer products, electronic goods, or anime. All generic, nothing unique. Curses! That being said however, it is a relatively interesting place to leg it around. Compared to Shinjuku which is more so like a business district, this place is more youth oriented and funky. You’ll notice a large amount of anime shops, pachinko parlours, and video arcades littering the place.
Along the anime lines mentioned, Akiba is also know for the Akiba girls! Girls that are dressed up in cosplay outfits to plug the existance of the cosplay cafes that they work for. Cosplay cafes are themed cafes where people can go to if they have either a cosplay fetish, or to soak in the anime inspired anime. My opinion? It’s more for those with a cosplay fetish. But hey I’m an ignoramus so what the hell do I know I just have this assumption that everyone is just as perverted as me.
Unfortunately for the world entire, most of the Akiba girls you see on the street are not hot. If I was in control of the matrix, this would be not be allowed to be part of it’s programming. Cosplay girls are so much cuter when they are hawt! That being said, all these girls on the street do lend a wonderful sense of colourful character to the entire district. I kinda feel sorry for them though, because there’s just so much competition from each other and you can obviously see that they are freezing their asses off in their little outfits.
Another thing I noticed, is that the moment one of them saw me pointing a camera at them they’d immediately turn from it. Naturally I found this quite strange as I thought the main point of this street loitering exercise is to garner as much attention as possible for their cause. What I discovered later from googlepedia is that one of the main sources of income that these girls rely on at their places of work is them charging for photos. Once you patronise their cafe, you have the opportunity to pay for a photo with them, or of them, as is my understanding.
Now not having been to one of this places, given that we were with the folks, I cannot say if there are any elements of dodginess to these establishments. Erica and I however would like to try one on our return visit just to see what it’s all about. Oh by the way, google “bottomless cafe” or “panty cafe”. You’ll soon find a link to a video and man it’s fricken’ bizarre… those wacky Japanese. So darn ingeniou… I mean ummm perverted.
If you want to see cosplay culture in all it’s true glory, apparently Harijuku on Sundays is the place to be. What I’ve been told is that all the Otaku (or neerrrrddddssssss!!!!) converge on Harijuku each Sunday like it was the only chance they have each week of getting any sex. So head there if you want to see some freaky nerd on nerd action. Okay I made that up. But in all seriousness, I think it would be quite cool to see people really getting into the whole spirit of cosplay purely out of passion as opposed to a pay cheque. I’m definitely keen to see this on my next trip back.
Another popular Japanese pastime which is very popular here is Pachinko. Pachinko is like the Jap equivalent of slot or poker machines, but with no money involved. I.e, kinda pointless. All flash and no substance. Pachinko is basically a machine that you shoot a ball into that if you’re lucky, will release more balls, which the player can then redeem for prizes given that gambling is illegal in Japan. That being said however, there are establishments, usually run by organised crime syndicates, that players can take their silver balls into and redeem for cash. For players whom are unlucky enough to have blue balls, they’ll go to another establishment to… lol I can’t even finish that joke. Because blue balls are no joke and only you *points at ladies* can make a difference.
Anyway, back to Pachinko. I broke off from the family because they decided to go visit some department store, an experience I dread. And so I ended up wandering into a pachinko parlour for the first time. Now you’ll notice the shots are a little, or very, blurry, because I had to do so very surreptitious. Like many places of the sort, you’re probably not allowed to take pictures. And getting caught for doing so in a possible gambling den may result in the very ill treatment of my virgin rectum. As much as I respect privacy rules… lol who am I kidding I really don’t. So I tried the best I could to take snappys.
On a side note, Japanese smoke a hell of a lot. Indoors, outdoors, and probably everywhere in between. I couldn’t stand being in that place due to the thick acrid stench of cigarettes that filled it’s confined space.
And now comes the best part of Akiba…. the 6 floors of porn!!!! Or perhaps it was 7… I can’t remember. But suffice to say it was many many floors that were filled with all manner of porno and other adult goods. Now Jap porn, or JAV, is great. It’s like the best thing since the invention of decentralised online piracy. I mean, which guy wouldn’t prefer the sight of fresh faced girl next door/in uni/sweet and innocent types getting spit roasted like a Thanksgiving Day turkey as opposed to some platinum blond looking piece of trailer trash. Gross generalisation I admit but you get the idea. Now if only the women in those video didn’t all sound like damn squeaky toys….
I apologise if I’m sounding a little crass or inappropriate here but you do realise who’s blog this is you’re reading right? I believe Hannah Montana has a publicly accessible blog somewhere in the event that you are. But I’ll still love you guys in any case
Again, being one to always respect privacy rules, I did my best to snap what random shots I could of the inside of this tower of depravity purely of the reasons of holiday journalling. The place is actually quite similar to your conventional adult shops in AU or anywhere else, judging from the very limited (I swear! Not joking this time!) number of ones I’ve seen anyway. The notable differences with this one would be the mini TV screens they have on each shelf playing videos, and naturally the content of those videos.
And the content I have to say, is sooooo darn hilarious. I mean, I already know this, but to see the physical product for myself is just surreal. They have a whole shelf dedicated to tentacle rape porn. The sheer lulz of it is endless! The fact that there’s so much of it suggests that people actually buy that shit! Another interesting thing about this shop is the cosplay floor. The floor has a wall that depicts numerous photos of girls adorned in the various outfits. What I later discovered was that girls actually receive a 30% discount if they wear the outfit and allow the shop to photograph and put up their photos for display.
The whole ambience of the shop itself was quite different to those in AU. There, you generally tend to feel like a complete pervert when you’re in an adult store regardless of the reasons for which you walked in. Here, it just felt so normal. There was so much traffic going in and out of the store that it just felt like any other store. No excuses to make, no nervous shifting of feet, no pulling your cap further down to hide your face… Basically no need for a “discrete back entrance”. With the exception of the presence of a dedicated tentacle themed section, these types of places are perfectly healthy, normal, and a much needed fixture of modern retail.
Unfortunately, Erica really really wanted to check this place out after I told her about it but sadly for her, she couldn’t as her folks were still with her. Cest la vie… next time babe
One of the other places that I was keen to visit was a video arcade. Now Japan was like the breeding ground of almost all the arcade classics as we knew them. Tekken, Street Fighter, Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, etc etc. The list is endless and comprises of countless classic titles over the years from the likes of Sega, Capcom, Namco, Taito, etc. So naturally, I was expecting some cutting edge gaming that I haven’t yet seen in SG. Sadly to say, I was very disappointed. Instead of seeing Time Crisis 27 or Tekken 10, I saw the same old titles plugging the same old shit. Boo….
The other thing that Japanese love is their figurines. The bottom floor of just about every arcade is filled with those try your luck vending machine things of which the prizes on offer were various anime figurines. Most of them female, in a short acrylic skirt, with their underwear showing. They just can’t get enough of all this. Not really my thing but I have to admit it’s sure much easier on the eye than all the GI Joe figurines I had as a child!
Further aimless wondering around the streets of Akiba led me unintentionally into a comic book or manga store. I was just killing time until the in-laws finished their shopping. Now I’m not really a huge fan of asian comics as much as I do love their art style. Whether it’s shin chan or doraemon or slam dunk or whatever… manga just ain’t my thing. I do however have some appreciation for the hentai comics, because they are just so ridiculous, outrageous, and hilarious. Hence my immense sense of glee and satisfaction when my wonderings took me into their basement.
I don’t know whether every comic book store has a dodgy section, but this one did. More cosplay outfits, more cosplay props, and a truckload of dodgy comics. Comics, and anime for that matter, are great in the sense that they can be used to create all manner of realities within. It’s visual escapism without limits and a universe of worlds without borders. Where the parameters of that exist are those of which the artist decides to set. So what does this mean? Some freaky ass shit that’s what it means. Just about every perverted fantasy imaginable in the Japanese mind has manifested itself upon those pages. So much so that some of it creeps even me out which, unless we’re talking about clowns, is not an easy thing. That being said, when done well, hentai can be pretty darn sexy.
After this I wondered in a Jap supermarket, which was pretty cool, and then met back up with the group. And then it was back on the train and off to Ginza.
Ginza is one of the more upmarket districts of Toyko. Basically it’s where you have all your branded stores like LV, Chanel, etc etc. Snoooooozzzzzeeeeeeee……… Not my call to come here. Anyway, first things first the girls decided that their heads were in dire need of ear muffs and so that was the first thing they did there. Now, to me, ear muffs come under the category of accessory. And one basic equation that all guys should understand about the so called fairer sex is that “Women + accessories = A looooonnnnng and painful way to die”. The feeling of waiting for a girl to pick and pay for a single piece of accessory is probably akin to what an animal feels like when a hunter misses it’s kill shot. It’s death all dragged out…
With me always trying to play the filial son-in-law, I had to juggle the options of risking parental wrath at my abandonment of the group, or staying and feeling like a bear that just got shot in the ass by a crap hunter. I chose the former… and wisely it turned out. I went off to explore and traipse around the streets of Ginza and to my delight discovered an Apple store. I was ecstatic as I’ve been trying to hunt down a replacement battery for my macbook for like… ages, which no reseller stocking them, and also that I’ve never set foot in an Apple store before.
Why did I say I chose wisely? Because after working around for ages and looking around the Apple store for ages, I returned to the department store only to find that they had just finished shopping. Whew!!! Girls will probably like Ginza with all it’s dazzling lights and branded stores. But if you’re a regular guy like me and not some manbag toting brand whore, you won’t find all that much here to entertain you. I will admit that it’s quite nice to wander these streets with their light saturated ambience in the cold winter air… as long as you don’t get dragged into the stores.
And come the end of our exploring came dinner. This was probably one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had. Being in relatively picky company, we eventually went with this place because we kinda just ran out of options after walking to the end of a street. It was a nice cozy little place that had hotplates on each table. So well…. we would could be forgiven for thinking that this would just be your regular DIY meat grilling type place correct? Bzzzz… wrong! This was actually a pancake place! Though we did not realise this until the meal was almost over. There was no English anywhere, and the old lady serving didn’t speak a word of it. Aftering consulting the Jap dictionaries on our iPhone, we managed to communicate… that we’ll have food. Any food. Just no Gyu.. which is beef. Because the in-laws don’t eat beef. Actually by then the lady had gotten the chef to come out whom managed to utter the words squid and pork to which we all nodded profusely.
It was a tiny establishment that could only seat about 10 people or so, and probably not even comfortably. The table and chairs were just so tiny. Which reminds me, what the heck is up with Japanese with their tiny chairs and tiny pillows!!! It drives me insane!! And my ass isn’t even that big!!! This is sumo culture we’re talking about, normal sized chairs please! And pillows!
There was this couple sitting next to us whom were giggling their heads off and our communication ineptness. It was a pretty comical situation I have to admit. As we found out when the food arrived, everything was in pancake form! Jap pancake form! The old lady, whom was like the sweetest old thing ever, mixed and cooked everything for us. By now, we were absolutely famished. So how was the meal? Well, the experience on the whole, was excellent and so memorable. The food on the other hand… was pretty darn average.
I’m not a fan of Japanese pancakes at the best of times so I can’t really give it the thumbs up. But what we had was certainly different. Especially the last dish which you can see in the last pic. It was this gooey, cheesy, starchy thing that we had to cook, scrape, and eat with these tiny little metal spatulas. Can’t say I really liked it, but points though for having cute utensils! So again to recap, food = average. Experience on the other hand = win. I love character and this place had boatloads of it.