Tokyo in Snapshots: Akihabara Electric Town and Gundam Cafe!

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!

CIMG0815_meitu_1

Akihabara 秋葉原

CIMG0787_meitu_2

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.

CIMG0791_meitu_3

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 ShellBarefoot 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←).

CIMG0795_meitu_4

CIMG0799_meitu_5

Boobs, short skirts and zettai ryouki

CIMG0808_meitu_2

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.

CIMG0808_meitu_3

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.

CIMG0812_meitu_10

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?

CIMG0817_meitu_1

And what do we have over here…..?

….GUNDAM CAFE Akihabara!

11 Kanda Hanaokacho
Chiyoda, Tokyo
(or just take the Showa Dori exit, it’s on the right, next to the AKB48 cafe!)

 

CIMG0825_meitu_4

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!

CIMG0850_meitu_5

Fancy drink bar with Gundam characters and the mobile suit itself!

CIMG0846_meitu_6

THE MENU

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.

CIMG0835_meitu_7

…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.

CIMG0857_meitu_9

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) ♥

CIMG0854_meitu_8

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 !

***

Oh Akihabara….

photo (19)_meitu_1

Nakano Broadway — Crazy vintage anime stuff town!

Whenever you hear manga/ anime / video games / whatever, you probably think of Akihabara, right? Don’t worry, I was also one of those people who thought that only Akihabara deserved the title of otaku heaven. But a couple of weeks ago I met my friend Myriam, who’s been living in Japan for over 5 years now, and she took me to a place that turned out to be even better than the slightly overrated AKB.

Vintage games, anime stuff, manga, dolls, accessories, CDs, consoles, cosplay, robots, toys, collectibles, some creepy stuff, some awesome stuff, unique photo albums, simply everything.

If you’re brave enough, follow me and see for yourself.

Nakano Broadway 中野ブロードウェイ

 5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo

Nakano Station, Chuo Line (中央線) and Tozai Line (東西線), take the north exit

website in English:  http://www.nbw.jp/index_e.html

website in Japanese: http://www.nbw.jp/

DSC08265_meitu_1

  And here’s the lovely lady who showed me around the place! Thanks a million!

DSC08202_meitu_5

 

Nakano Broadway – Otaku’s Paradise

 

image from: otapark.com

Looking for creepy cute dolls covered in blood? No problem. Gremlins driving a pink cabrio? Step right up, you can get’em here. You have always dreamt about owning your very own wrestling mask? Your dreams will finally come true!  Collecting frog skeletons? You just found another specimen! Wanna put your hands on [any anime ever produced] merchandise? Bingo.

 ⇓

DSC08262_meitu_31

 

First thing I saw when I got there was these horridly anatomically inaccurate ball jointed dolls. I know that there are many people who collect these beauties, name them, make clothes for them, organize photo shoots and meetings etc. I can understand that, there’s some mysterious cold beauty in them indeed. Their little bodies wrapped in foil reminded me of a classic of the sci-fi anime genre — Ghost in the Shell.

DSC08224_meitu_1

If you ever decide to splurge on one of the dolls (2000 dollars eeep!) you can buy a whole set of adorable little wigs and outfits.

DSC08227_meitu_2

 

Nakano Broadway is seventh heaven for Sailor Moon fans. These items must be really rare, just look at the prices. Sailor Moon figurine for a 1000 dollars, Sailor Warrior plastic wands for 600 dollars…I can imagine how some really dedicated fans could have spent quite a fortune here.

DSC08230_meitu_1

 

I’m a fan of Sailor Moon myself (in my case though, it’s more of a sentimental thing from my childhood), but dolls with price tags showing a big share of my monthly salary don’t appeal to me. But wait, what is that over there? Sailor Moon key chain machine? And you need only 300 yen to get one? Now we’re talking!

DSC08256_meitu_1

 

…it’s Mamoru! This guy surely set the bar really high for future boyfriends.

DSC08259_meitu_9

 Mandarake store

Mangas, magazines, books, photo albums…Most of which were rather unique. There’s too many to list, so just take a look at their website and you’ll get an idea of what treasures you can find there.

Mandarake store website in English: http://ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en/

DSC08237_meitu_6

 

A cheki pic of a kneeling school girl wearing panties and a harness on her thigh and some S&M stuff by Kuniyoshi Kaneko 

DSC08241_meitu_7

 

A tattooed lady took a photo of a tattooed lady looking at pictures of tattooed ladies. Photo-ception? Tattoo-ception? Tatooed ladies-ception?

DSC08240_meitu_8

 

3 aliens in Japan *dry joke alert*

DSC08236_meitu_2

 

 Here we have some little panties, bras and swimwear worn by anime characters and they can be yours for only 980 yen! I’m wondering what happens with them after the purchase…OK, OK, I better just stop that line of thought here.

DSC08266_meitu_4

 

Nakano Broadway has a few floors with countless second-hand shops. You’ll get lost in this mish-mash of toys, accessories and dolls. We didn’t understand why someone would want to part ways with this gloriously giant pink poop, but well, one person’s loss is another’s gain and you can get this dramatic plush-toy for only 1200 yen. I admit we were kind of tempted by this one.

DSC08260_meitu_2

 

Got brains?

 

Okay, so this store took the creepy factor to a whole new level for me. All I could think of while browsing items this store had to offer was “W-T-F ? ? ?”. Their display says much about the content, but I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t checked it. Saying it was interesting doesn’t even begin to describe it. Unique..? Amusing in a peculiar way..? I found it really interesting how they described themselves on their website:

“Many item from all kinds of genres (comics, literatures, arts, sub culture, a genre, music and theatrical play) and we have more than 1million books. Some of them are not as sophisticated as the books in the regular bookstores because they are hand-made, but put aside your prejudice and take a look at these. You will meet your favorite one.”

Yeah, sophisticated would be the last word I would use here.

check it →here←

IMG_0180_meitu_3

 ⇑

A brain pouch. A kappa with a septum piercing doing things to a poor lady with a turtle between her legs. Yay!

***

I have seen hundreds of horror movies and other disturbing stuff, but these photos looked so real, I actually had to redefine my perception of what was ‘disturbing’ for me . These photos were “What kind of sick mind created these?” kind of disturbing.

IMG_0169_meitu_4

 

  It doesn’t mean that the whole store was like this. Of course, it wasn’t like any other regular bookstore, but there were some regular titles. Though “Lil Miss Sticky Kiss” and “Rubber Doll” by Trevor Brown don’t confirm what I just said (I googled these books, and let me just warn you that you might think it’s “I better clear my Google Search history” kind of disturbing).

 ↓

IMG_0171_meitu_5

 

  The only summary I can think of:

You just gotta love Japan.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

photo (9)_meitu_6