Mim's 2013 Akihabara collection
LoganRunn, a fellow Figure.fm comrade most of the regulars know, made great suggestion in that I should consider uploading a few additional pics of my trip.
I took around 2000 pics on my 9 day trip and, given the 80 pic post limit, sadly many never got uploaded.
With this post I thought I'd amalgamate my Akihabara pics from the trip into one post and sprinkle a few new ones around it too.
Not being in any rush to upload my pics, like when I got back from my trip, I can now have a deeper ponder about each of the moments captured in my photo's and how they related to other overall experiences.
These sorts of things can reveal personality traits I suppose so go ahead and have a chuckle as you take a journey through my mind.
Hope you enjoy the trip :D
Pics via iPhone 5 (HDR)
This is one of my very first images taken of Akihabara on the trip and certainly one of the more memorable. Its one of those keynote moments in your life when reality hits you like a truck. You are finally somewhere you have wanted to be for a very long time.
As you take the electric town exit for the Akihabara station and hang a right this is the view you are greeted with towards the right. The AKB48 and Gundam Cafe's.
Sorry I never had enough interest to go into the AKB48 Cafe, but it certainly seemed popular with the locals. The Gundam Cafe on the other hand more appealed to my inner Otaku so I took a closer look!
There was a large Zaku on display outside. Interesting to note that I did see a number of Gundam's of this scale on display sprinkled round my trip. Most were of the vanilla white scheme, the same but in a green scheme (At the Tokyo international Anime Fair's Gundam Cafe) and lastly this Zaku, which was the only one all trip that I spotted.
My mind can't comprehend what it would cost to source one of these, but its a display like this that really rams the message home that you're somewhere special.
Given all the trouble and expense of having this on display I would of thought up a cleaner way of displaying the please do not touch sign ;)
That or they could Photoshop the sign onto every Gundam ever made throughout history and claim its a design feature!
The Gundam cafe's theme extended its self quite evenly over everything including the menu.
Fellow poster kidomaru was with me at this time in the trip. Being a big Gundam fan he acted like this was haloed ground ^.^
Being on a trip you tend to try the odd things you'd normally never think of. In this case I had some Mango juice. Yea mind blowing I know, but hey it was actually pretty tasty.
Horrific thing to some, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I generally never feel like sugary drink's sweets, cake, ice cream etc...
I rather enjoyed Gundam Unicorn. Being still relatively fresh in my mind I found the interior decoration work seemed to have a lot in common to the Unicorn Gundam's powered up state.
When I renovate my room / house in future I will certainly be making use of indirect lighting like this. Certainly if I were building a house from scratch I would very much theme it in a clean almost Treky kinda way similar to this.
The Unicorn theme gelled even more seeing as they were lopping the entire final episode of Unicorn on the large TV. What was really awesome was the audio was properly pipped throughout the Cafe with a proper speaker setup. Nothing half baked here.
Having gone to the trouble of visiting the 1:1 scale Gundam in Odaiba and then visiting the Gundam Cafe there I found this one to be the way larger of the two.
Entirely my own opinion, but if they moved the Gundam here instead, there honestly wouldn't be a reason to visit the other cafe. It was a tiny place with no internal seating and so was only 40% the size of the Akihabara one >.>
That said visiting the Odaiba Gundam Cafe tied nicely into my overall trip as I attended the International Tokyo Anime Fair in the Tokyo big site nearby.
As comrade felneymike corrected me in my original post, this is Gachapon a capsule store. You will see quite a large amount of capsule machines spread round Akihabara, but this was the only store I saw that dealt with them in their raw form.
When I say raw form I mean primarily by trying your luck popping coins and seeing what you get. I should of made a count of the number of machines here (out of amusement), but the thought had no crossed my mind. Rough stab would be between 80 and 100.
In my explorations of the stores in the area I found quite a few that sold new and older capsule prizes in clear bags. Not a bad idea if you want something older that is no-longer stocked in machines and if you want to complete a collection.
That said you will pay double or more over the original 200y going rate if buying this way.
On this day of my trip the weather was lovely with crisp clean air and blue skies.
I like this shot given it looks like any other modern city till you see some iconic reflections in the glass if the building yonder.
This is one of many such stores across Japan. Not sure if its a franchise or simply a large corporate business.
Its basically level upon level of gaming prize machines.
Its quite common to see local transport sporting some itasha elements.
Not sure about you all, but I love exploring the back streets of places. Akihabara was no exception.
If you look really hard you will spot all sorts of interesting things. Most maid cafe's tend to be based in these sorts of places, which are more out of the way and likely cheaper to rent.
The back streets had a lot more food and electronic stores too. Lots used products to be found, but in good condition.. goods not food that is :3
Wasn't too sure about this.
At first I thought it was graffiti, but given the barriers it all looked a bit too pr-meditated. Pondering it longer I think its some artistic work designed around the theme of being graffiti. Either way it worked for me!
Again in the back streets I found a quaint looking little Curry establishment. It was the clean minimalistic approach to the design of this place that really caught my eye.
Even more amusing was the realization that their advertising was of a Mexican theme with the inclusion of a funky mascot and having the second half of their name being Ariba!
It um looked interesting. I'm pretty sure it would have tasted amazing.. pretty sure.
I stumbled across this odd but interesting little electronics store setup in the space between two buildings.
Mandarake is a power house of new and used Anime merchandise. This is one of (if not) the largest branches in Japan. There are many levels each dedicated to its own category like DVD/BD, Books, Figures, Dolls and even two levels of Hentai (one for the boyz and the other for the girl's ie BL), which trust me on this one, you really don't want to accidentally mix up!
For those interested Mandarake does have a large website spanning the vast majority of their inventory and they do sell internationally. Its how I first came round to learning about them - http://ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en/
When buying from them via their website pay attention to what store your items of interest are stocked in as its separate shipping based on location.
Looking back on a one of the craziest street corners in Akihabara.
You will come across oddities like this long bank of capsule machines in a back street. Pondering it longer it likely is linked to the store next door.
Animate has loads of branches all over Japan and the one in Akihabara was a nice example of what they do with level upon level of merchandise generally categorized together. One of the lowest levels had a large cosplay section with loads of ready to wear ready made costumes in various sizes for sale.
There was also a large selection of wigs on display to go with said costumes.
There was a display area on one of the upper floors dedicated to the Vividred Operation anime show.
No you won't find these in any sizes larger than these to cosplay. These are modeled around the actual age of the main characters of the show so 12 or 13 year old's? That said I found it hard to tell the difference without the colours they were resting on >.<
There was quite a nice display of art work like this from the show, but I didn't take shots of everything.
You know truth be told I am actually rather enjoying the show.
I'm rather looking forward to some nicely sculpted PVC's of the girls in their mature combined adult forms. Fans of the show know what I mean ^_^
Certainly not the sort of food type I would expect to see in Japan, but then times and tastes are changing.
They looked kinda tasty, but then I had some pretty nice ones at a funky place in LA called Pink's - http://www.pinkshollywood.com/index.html
I was willing to gamble that this place was not quite in the same ball park so I gave it a miss. That said I was constantly amazed and fascinated at the quality of fake food on display throughout my trip.
I crossed the road and encountered some real junk food Japanese style with genuine Taiyaki. Here's a neat little bit of back ground for the unfamiliar among us - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiyaki
Although not as in your face and colorful as the hotdog's earlier, these as more true to Japanese form being more subtle with a hidden surprise.
They look almost too cute to eat... almost.
Lightly crunchy filled in this case with traditional red bean paste, which tastes more or less like pair jam. Not as sweat as strawberry and certainly more like apple / pair.
For anyone who has ever experienced the godly bliss of a fresh regular Krispy Kreme doughnut - http://www.krispykreme.com.au/ you likewise wanna eat Taiyaki when its super fresh for maximum effect.
Ah MOS burger how I already miss you. This fine establishment seems to have filled the void left by Wendy's when they pulled their op's out of Japan over the last few years.
I'm positive that I spent at least 5000y on my trip split across regular single burger meals. If you ever had MOS burger or are planing to I strongly recommend their Melon soda.
I'm not actually too sure what this was. Naturally advertising for some store.
One of the most important things to know when walking round Akihabara is that many buildings will often contain multiple levels. Each level is generally its own separate business.
Take some time to stop on the street and look up and around at the buildings in the area. Learning Kana prior to your trip will help you greatly in recognizing whats what. Danny can even help you with his Kana learning products! - http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/26495/About+Moekana.html
Its wise to try and locate any potential lift / elevator and to take it to the highest floor of interest and then work your way down back to the ground floor via the internal stairs.
This proved a fantastic building to visit if you are hunting or may be limited for time and want a large tightly packed building full of merchandise.
Even the stairs in many buildings offer a neat way to advertise something. Just like this.
The top floor even had a Goodsmile Cafe, but every time I popped round to see it there was a long queue to be seated ^_^"
I should of just queued up I suppose, but I did buy a few things from the store out front.
All the lifts in the store were sticker'd (I just invented a word) up like this. This is a reather common site throughout Akihabara though.
Walking along the back streets I spotted an interesting store.
This place is well worth a visit if you are a fan of their products seeing as a rather mind boggling amount of them were available for purchase inside.
Aside from pointing out the obvious attractions of each floor its worth mentioning that those operating hours (shown down the bottom) are actually true for most of Akihabara.
I did recall guides mentioning to not be in a rush when it comes to exploring the area as most of it doesn't even open until 10 or even 11am each day.
This is a display from an unrelated store that I randomly took.
Yet another prize machine shop along the back streets. Its amazing the effort some places go to when trying to draw attention to themselves :D
Here's some really fancy old gear for you electrical engineers out there. One of my family members has a collection of these himself.
This was a bit of an oddity. Not in it being KFC, but more in that it was built into the underside of an over head rail bridge type overpass. You see there were no other stores either side so it was almost like a little booth type setup. I should of taken a wider shot, but had I taken a step or two back you would have noticed a street corner on either side of the shop front. The grey wall sections either side are the actual support pylons for the overpass and you can just make out one of them curving up the top right.
Interestingly it had a tiny serving area in front then a small set of stairs leading up to two floors above, one for smokers and the other for nonsmokers.
There were some pretty cheap meal options going for 480y just out of shot down the bottom. Yet another example of how much cheaper food here is relative to Sydney prices, where the same thing generally costs 40% more.
I have to try this establishment out on my next visit over.
Wonder who / what's on the menu?
Pachinko is a rather big thing in Japan. Not surprising given that gambling is generally illegal. I found a neat and rather verbose description for you all here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachinko
I got some extra value out of this shot with a local Itasha roaming through traffic in a rather noisy fashion Police back home would more than likely have immediately pulled the person over and defected their car on the spot in a number of way's.
That said my overall impression was that people take a lot of care of their cars, but that's limited to what area's I traveled through on the trip..
Figured I'd take a pic while crossing the main street, Why does the plethora of 'why did the chicken cross to the other side' jokes come to mind now? *grin*
I did come across the odd vintage elevator in my travels. Stick to the numbers and it all works out well.
Nice having a higher vantage point now and then for a happy snap.
The vast majority of elevators in the area look just like this with loads of propaganda plastered all across the walls. I dig this kind of propaganda.
Now you too can be an irresistible mecha pilot and have all the other female mecha pilots in the world fight over you like a random meat product!
Hmm *wipes drool*
Just be sure to use all these product liberally and see your doctor if pain persists!
I left a fat wad of cash at this fine establishment. Its located near the electric town entrance to the Akihabara strain station.
Much like an Animate branch its essentially level upon level of merchandise though for some reason I found a load of older and more appealing bits and pieces here.
One floor had plenty of pencil boars so got my four Horizon one here. Then another floor had the two Horizon pillow cases I found.
The entire store was having a manic release event for the new Nanoha BD movie box set. Copies were almost flying out the door!
There's even health stores! Yep the whole building.
The back streets can lead to some amazing discoveries.
Like stores packed full of really old merchandise. This place had a whole box of those cool little figures that come packed with magazine releases.
I found two Evangelion figs for my desk at work to complete the three set for one such figure I randomly bought with a magazine long ago.
Its common place to find augmented advertising. I'm referring to their chest regions being augmented with stuffing that blends in with the rest of the display ^_^"
Cool old dude!
Led me to an accidental pic of one of those maids advertising their establishments along the streets. Woo boy many are cute, but then... that's the whole point isn't it ;)
There's even a tobacco store that serves as a haven from all of those nasty non smokers. You can stroll in buy their products and try them out on the spot!
If only health products could likewise be that simple!
Found a number of stores specializing in used retro cartridge games for all the consoles from back then.
On one of the day's I visited the area I spotted a large crowd of excited males near the AKB48 Cafe. I imagine there was either some really awesome event taking place or a new kind of instant coffee was about to go on sale!
I'll assume it was some sort of fan signing type thing :)
The UDX building just nearby was hiding this neat little place.
Strangely this was actually the only scale Miku I spotted all trip! She looked really neat with load of bits lighting up on her as part of the display.
They actually had a reasonable if a bit of a small range of merchandise on sale.
The prices were actually reasonable too.
This was inside another random store, but is quite typical of the sorts of things you will see in the endless string of shops in the area.
Seeing display's like this all over the place mat be common to the locals, but is profoundly awesome for me given it simply doesn't exist back home.
The Sega center was essentially another prize machine establishment on the lower floors and then higher up had loads of arcade machines as you would imagine.
I found a few places like this that had female only levels. Perhaps that makes them feel more comfortable not having the other gender around? I like this sort of attention to clienteles needs.
Over the years prize figures in general have come a long way in quality.
A mysterious building full of mysterious things...
I really enjoyed finding so many odd things littered all over the place like this pair.
This is a shot at around 6pm or so. As you can see the streets start getting pretty packed by this time. I imagine it gets busier as people finish work / school and decide on a bit of a shopping trip in the area for their various hobbies.
Nothing quite prepares you for the escalating war in advertising that Japan can be...
This was back lit from the inside!