Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Akihabara and Sukiyaki

Yesterday I went to Akihabara with Kimika. From the closest train station it is about a little more than an hour away. I just want to start out by saying that as a high school student I was a devoted anime nerd. As such, I often heard and read about Akihabara as the ultimate nerd destination. I'm not going to lie here. After having been to Akihabara I find that statement to be 100% accurate. After exiting from the train station here were a couple of my first sights.

Gundam Cafe
AKB48 Cafe

I'm going to stop for a minute to talk about AKB48. AKB48 is group of Japanese girl singers. The number of members in the group has changed over the years, but according to Wikipedia (so don't quote me in case I'm wrong!) there are currently 91 members of this group. It seems to be a huge phenomenon in Japan though. I can't tell you how many stores I walked into that had an entire section if not an entire floor devoted entirely to this group. So it's a pretty big deal. Also, the queue you see for the AKB48 cafe here is really small. When we first arrived the queue had probably well over a hundred people in it.

 So walking around in Akihabara the buildings were covered in posters and advertisements for games, anime, etc. It was pretty much the nerdiest experience of my life and I loved every second of it. All the stores seem to be very brightly colored and as you walk past many of the stores the displays often included a TV that was showing one group or another and were always singing.

A phenomenon that I think is pretty unique to the area is maid cafes. Lining the streets you can see women dressed as maids handing out flyers for the cafe they work for. Unfortunately I was unable to go to one of these cafes and I did not take a picture of any of the girls. You've probably already guessed as much by now, but if you go to one of these maid cafes all the waitresses are wearing maid outfits!

A maid bento box.

 Wandering around, Kimika and I tried on some masks we found in the Japanese section of one store.

We tired out pretty quickly, so we stopped off at one of the many cafes in the area. This one was a French cafe called Vie De France. We ate some yummy snacks before heading off again.

All my cards are on the TV here. One of my goals in coming to Akihabara was to buy some blu-rays. I'd thought finding a shop that sold used blu-rays would be easy, but it seems that not many people are giving up their discs. So we were searching for a while. In the end I was able to find a couple of my favorite movies for dirt cheap, around 800 yen, in comparison to the price you can find them. Which a new blu-ray tends to run between 3,000 and 4,000 yen.

After Akihabara we headed to Kimika's mother's for dinner! Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but for dinner we had sukiyaki. A key feature of this meal was the fact that we took the cooked ingredients from the pan in the middle of the table and dipped it into raw egg before eating it. It was no easy task to take that first bite as I literally sat at the table, hands clapped to face in horror as they tried to coax me into eating it. But that's why I'm here, right? To try new things? So I sew my better judgement aside and tried it only to find that it was actually good! Here's a picture courtesy of the Google bot.

Picture from
Now is also a good time to make a note. I stopped at the train station to pick up some flowers for her mom, I didn't want to arrive empty handed, only to hear the flower sellers yelling something about some flowers being marked down or something like that. So I decided to get the purple ones in a pot because I'm a firm believer that live flowers are better than cut ones. Well, after paying my 500 yen, the guy takes and ties that plastic bag that 4 large potted flowers are in and hands it to me. Ooops. My bad. But hey, Kimika's mom has a garden now.


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