I’m big in Japan: Akihabara (2005 May 11)

5 minute read

Today was slated for shopping at Akihabara, the mecca for electronics and anime shopping. Another pricey breakfast in the hotel (5082¥) filled us up for the day’s fun. I decided to wear my sneakers, a decision I would later regret. Since the day was mostly about my hobby, we made a pit stop back at Ueno so Jm could do a bit of souvenir shopping at the Tokyo National Museum (train rides for whole day: 1140¥).

Gift shopping at the Tokyo National Museum

Jm took the lead on this adventure and followed the advice of our guidebook. She wrote down "Museum gift shop only please" and showed it to the guard at the gate. He walked us over to a kiosk where we were given a pass valid for a 90 minute stay in the gift shop. We spent only half of the allotted time in the gift shop browsing and searching for gifts for our folks and friends (4672¥).

Before we left, I needed to make a pit stop and found myself in front of a high-tech Japanese toliet. The seat would lower itself when the stall door was closed, and there were plenty of knobs and buttons I was not about to press tempted as I was. We spent a bit of time sitting outside the front of the museum before handing over our validated pass back to the lady at the kiosk.

Ah… Electric Town!

I could have easily spent the entire day (and our remaining yen) at the myriad stores in Akihabara, but I managed to limit myself to half a day and only a portion of our money. Aside from one or two stores, I stayed away from the electronic stores; there were no gadgets I wanted to pick up while in Japan. My hunt was for CDs, DVDs, and hopefully some of Monkey Punch’s more obscure manga titles. Popped into a few smaller stores here and there before finding Gamers.

Kept having to scout ahead and steer Jm clear of the ubiquitous porn; I was here to shop, not to explain the myriad fetishes on display in those sections. There was plenty of nifty figures and merchandise, but nothing was catching my eye. I finally hit paydirt at Animate and picked up a few Lupin CDs, the first Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex OST, and my favorite Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec (9980¥). Bigger paydirt awaited at the last store we would visit.

UFOs and donuts

Before we hit the final store of the day, Jm needed to rest her tired feet and sat down for a bit. While she was resting, I found a Sega Land and its vast array of UFO catchers. Dropped a bit of change (500¥) and won myself a nifty figure of Kusanagi Motoko. My feet were starting to ache by then, and we both were a bit thirsty and hungry. We spotted a Mister Donut across the street; wow… I hadn’t seen a Mister Donut in a few decades. I thought the chain had folded ages ago, but here it was alive in of all places Japan.

We both ordered an iced chocolate drink and a donut (734¥); to our surprise, this was the best donut either of us had ever tasted. They were not greasy and tasted better than anything Dunkin or Krispy Kreme ever served me.

Jackpot!

The last store was stopped in was Comic Toranoana, and I was overjoyed by what I found there. Not only was the DVD box set for Gunbuster was on sale but also the DVD for Macross: Do You Remember Love?. I was in mecha heaven when I forked over my cash for both of these (19,870¥). The savings was not huge, but every little yen saved helps. One last arcade caught my eye with a machine sporting some sweet looking Fujiko figures. Unsuccessfully tried to win one (300¥) and decided I could wait until they hit eBay to pick one (or all of them) up.

Dinner time

Back at the hotel, we cooled our heels and decided to check out Suzuya, a katsu restaurant the Lonely Planet guide recommended. It was located in Shinjuku making it an easy walk from our hotel, much to the relief of our exhausted feet. The staff was helpful and friendly, and we managed to order with a minimal amount of gesturing and broken Japanese. Dinner was a delicious set meal (3000¥); wish I could make tonkatsu half as good as they do. We walked around Shinjuku a bit more before heading back to the hotel.

Random thoughts / unexpected outcomes

Jm recorded that we picked up some more snacks and drinks (630¥) during the day. I don’t recall when or where, but I suspect that we picked up some drinks and munchies at the conbi near our hotel. For some reason, I was convinced that Mandarake had a branch in Akihabara; if they did, I did not manage to find it. Didn’t find any manga that caught my eye, but Jm surprised me when she became captivated by a poster in a manga store we browsed. The poster was for Victorian Romance Emma, and we found a few volumes in the store. The volumes had wrap around banners advertising the recent anime series produced; I made it a priority to track down the anime for us to watch once we got back to the US.

When I did find it, we both watched the entire series and fell in love with it. I ordered the first three volumes of the manga from Amazon Japan for her shortly after that. We were overjoyed that CMX picked up the series for the US and are buying those volumes as they come out. We were ecstatic when the second season was announced and are following that religiously. I have no illusions that Jm will be a huge anime fan, but she has moved on to enjoy similar titles like Rose of Versailles. This is the best and most unexpected perk from the whole trip.

Kusanagi Mokoto, my prize from Sega Land

3 comments

Daniel Zelter on

"I have no illusions that Jm will be a huge anime fan, but she has moved on to enjoy similar titles like Rose of Versailles."

If she’s into shoujo, I recommend Mars, Backstage Prince[Found it yet?], Aishiteruze Baby, Utena, Absolute Boyfriend, and Nana. Paradise Kiss is short, but it’s a “love it or hate it” series. I hear Kodocha’s fun, too.

Luis Cruz on

@Daniel

Not sure if any of those would pique her interest; period pieces, especially ones focused on the Victorian era in Europe, go over better with her.

As for Backstage Prince, I have yet to find a b&m store around here that carries it or many (if any) Viz titles.

Daniel Zelter on

That’s a surprise. Guess you’ll have to settle for Amazon, dude. As for period pieces, if CPM put Tale of the Genji on dvd, I’d recommend it.