Akihabara is everything you think that it is— and more! Yes, it’s full of manga and anime. Yes, it’s a real kingdom of electronic devices and games. Yes, AKB48 are the goddesses here (well, not only here, but this is where they started from, so I guess it’s a ‘special’ place for the fans). And finally yes, it is full of otaku, maid cafes and barely dressed anime characters on every corner.
Akihabara was the first place I visited when I came to Japan. The sky was grey and I was terribly sleepy because of jet lag. I ate my first tsukemen which cost me about 800 yen and at that time I thought “I’m gonna go bankrupt here!”…What else? Oh, I remember! I was looking for a wi-fi spot just so that I could check-in at Akihabara on Facebook (“Everybody has to know I’m in AKB YASSSSSS!”). Ironically, it wasn’t easy to find such a spot though! You would think, Akihabara = internet everywhere, but well, not really. In any case, I went back to Akihabara many times after that. I taught English at a cafe, I visited my beloved Donki (AKB’s Donki was the only one I knew at that time), I left a substantial amount of money at Yodobashi Camera. Oh and how could I forget the most delicious ramen I have ever had? It’s in AKB too! I’ll be sure to show you that place because the ramen there is insanely delicious.
Since I moved a bit further away from the Ueno/Akihabara area, I haven’t had as many chances to visit the Otaku Town. This time I went back to find some interesting things I could show you and Akihabara didn’t disappoint me. It never does!
If you choose the Electric Town Exit, you’ll be greeted by video game arcades, ubiquitous photos of AKB48 and anime characters. All this cuteness can make you dizzy, but the atmosphere is none the less absolutely unique.
I need to admit that I am not a big fan of manga or anime. Of course I have watched classics like Ghost in the Shell, Barefoot Gen and most of the Ghibli animations, but somehow… I don’t know, I just never really got into it that much. I still enjoy walking the streets of AKB though. Japanese people say it’s too weird, too expensive and too overrated. It’s like a younger clumsy brother of Nakano Broadway, which is a real deal for hardcore anime lovers (read more about Nakano Broadway → here←).
Boobs, short skirts and zettai ryouki
Comic book stores, Japanese idol CD stores, and yes, of course, countless maid cafes. No, I have never been to one. High school students wearing maid costumes, speaking in an unnaturally high-pitched voice, infantilizing themselves to serve as some sort of fetishy entertainment for anime loving guys? No, thanks, maybe…umm…someday.
You may think that the Donki at AKB should have even more
weird unusual stuff than other Donkis… It does have lots of anime stuff, anime slippers, anime wine bottles, anime whatever you want, AKB48 merchandise, pillow girlfriends and other items you could find in a “How To Become Otaku for Dummies — Starter Kit”, if such a thing existed.
Wait, it’s Japan. It probably does.
Gachapon machines on the street! They were a hit in Poland when I was a kid. I still remember 10-year old me buying those gross rubber hands in gachapons we had in Poland. They looked like giant snots and you could stick them to walls which made it more fun. How could I know that about 13 years later I would find myself buying half-naked anime figurines from machines on the streets of Akihabara?
And what do we have over here…..?
….GUNDAM CAFE Akihabara!
The cafe has a really nice atmosphere going on! The mechanical mascot Haro and some mini pink Gundam robots. It feels like a spaceship and you can watch some Gundam episodes on a large screen TV. Actually, some people seemed to have come there only for the TV. Maybe this is the reason why there’s a time limit in the cafe? Apparently, you can’t stay there longer than 2 hours. Enough to watch a few episodes though!
Fancy drink bar with Gundam characters and the mobile suit itself!
Everything looked yummy! Curry and taco-rice-ish dishes at reasonable prices? Fried rice with chicken wings shaped like a Gundam spaceship? MS-06 Zaku II and ACGUY curry rice? Gundam SEED hashed beef rice? Sounds awesome! I decided to get Kira no hayashi raisu = Kira hashed beef.
This is how they described the dish:
ガンダムSEEDの主人公、キラ･ヤマトをイメージした、力強い味わいのハヤシライスです。 トリィを表した温泉卵とチーズがキラの優しさのようなまろやかな味に仕上げます。 しっかり食べたいあなたに。
“Strong-flavoured hashed beef rice with the main character of Gundam SEED – Kira Yamato. A soft-boiled egg and cheese representing Torii (a lime green bird-robot) give off a flavour so mellow, like Kira’s personality” — if that doesn’t sound mouth-watering, I don’t know what does.
…and apparently this is what Kira’s personality looks like. In the world of Photoshop I guess I shouldn’t be really surprised seeing that the reality is a bit different from the photograph, but well…I still can’t say it was half as good as I had imagined it. It was decent. But Japanese soft-boiled eggs are to die for so I’ll be generous this time and give them 6 out of 10.
The coffee was surprisingly good though! If you’re not a fan of curry, grab a latte! And just look at that adorable chibi Gundam Tencho (=Manager Gundam) ♥
I guess that the main hero at Gundam Cafe is Gundam of course, the food is only an addition. Well, if that works for them and brings them clients, why should I complain? I had a decent lunch and a good coffee and I didn’t break the bank! If you’re a fan of Gundam — I’m sure you’ll go there. If not — well, if you happen to be in AKB and crave some curry, why not stop by the Gundam Cafe?
Whatever they say about AKB — no one can deny that it grew to be one of the symbolic towns of Tokyo.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my thoughts !