Japan 2016 Part 4: Akihabara, Electric City

Prepare for some serious consumerism.

The next stop in our exploration of Tokyo was Akihabara, known as the ‘electric city’ for its myriad of electronics shops, including some of (literally) the biggest in the world.

Akihabara

We ventured inside one of the massive multi-storey shops, and were confronted with a true assault on the senses. Everything you can think of was crammed in there, with the volume turned up to 11.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

There was the biggest selection of camera gear I’ve ever seen.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Including a whole host of film related stuff, which was heaven. I picked up a bunch of rolls of Fuji Natura 1600, which people pay an arm and a leg for to import back into the UK. I still haven’t shot it yet.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

As it stands, we didn’t last too long in there. The noise was deafening, and as we were leaving, I saw a small Japanese girl covering her ears and screaming. I know how ye feel, hen.

Akihabara

Not everything was as manic as that place though, and we found some cool wee places to check out. I ended up buying a Voigtlander 15mm at this delightful wee camera shop, which is what a bunch of these pictures were shot with. The level of service they offered was impeccable compared to back home – cleaning my existing lens and wrapping it up beautifully.

Japan camera shop

Japan camera shop

Another cool place was ‘Super Potato’, a vintage gaming shop found at the top of a multi-storey building, which contained piles of consoles, games, and other paraphernalia, all crammed into a tiny space. The choice and range of stuff they had was pretty wild, and overwhelming.

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

I’ve never seen as many SNES in one place.

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

My beloved Game Boys…

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

Super Potato Japan

I didn’t end up buying anything, as the prices weren’t particularly different from what I could get things for back home, but it was just cool to have a look about, and know that somewhere like that exists somewhere in the world.

Super Potato Japan

Other shops carried a host of weird and err, wonderful figurines…

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

I think my favourite had to be this one though, which looked bizarrely like Nicola Sturgeon:

Nicola Sturgeon

Outside, the usual Japanese promotional madness was carrying on.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

On the streets there are these mini toy vending machine things everywhere. A lot of it is the same kind of thing, with Pokemon keyrings and other bits and pieces. If you looked hard enough though, you could find some really bizarre stuff. For example, we managed to find a solid gold jobby in Akihabara:

Gold jobby

We stopped for a burger at an American style hot dog place. Normally when abroad I’d avoid these kind of places, but in Japan, everything is interesting, including their take on Western culture.

Japan hot dog

Japan hot dog

Japan hot dog

A photo of our weapons of choice for the trip…

Akihabara

Akihabara

The next stop was a huge multi-storey complex thing called Don Quixote.

Don Quixote, Japan

Don Quixote is this mad shop that is a weird Japanese version of ‘Your More Store’ (remember them?). It sells pretty much everything, from sweets to cosmetics, to plastic fruit…

Akihabara

If you’re after a cutesy Halloween costume, you’re in luck.

Akihabara

Or eh, a not so cutesy one.

Akihabara

There was a bizarre selection of sexually related items as well.

Akihabara

Including out and out sex toys. I’ll avoid going into the details of what was on offer up here to spare you.

Akihabara

Up and up you go, where there’s even a level dedicated for a supposedly famous J-Pop group.

Akihabara

Go up even further, and you hit this mental arcade.

Akihabara

This floor was full of kids playing games at an unbelievable speed – like all of the insane YouTube videos you might have seen in the past. We wandered about in a bit of a daze, watching and taking pictures (though apparently this was frowned upon).

Akihabara

Akihabara

On the very top floor, there were gambling machines. This place was so filled with dense cigarette smoke that we literally just did one lap and went straight for the exit without taking any pictures. It dawned on me that all of those weird high rise buildings in Pokemon Gold on the Game Boy suddenly made sense after all of those years. It’s as if they were perfectly modelled on places like Don Quixote.

At night, the city lit up like a Christmas tree.

Akihabara

Akihabara, Japan

Akihabara, Japan

Akihabara, Japan

We spent some time just wandering about, taking everything in. The beauty of Japan is that there is always something interesting to see, and photograph.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara, Japan

Akihabara Canon 50mm f0.95

Akihabara

Akihabara  Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Canon 50mm f0.95

Akihabara

Akihabara, Japan

Akihabara

Akihabara, Japan

One of the infamous facets of Japanese culture is the ‘maid cafes’, which are abundant in Akihabara particularly. We watched as girls would go up to guys in the street, to try and entice them into their establishment. It seemed uncomfortably like they were soliciting prostitution, but it’s apparently not the case. Rather, you go along, drink overpriced drinks, and these girls act cutesy in a weirdly sexual non sexual pantomime. Either way, the girls were pretty persistent, though they didn’t seem to approach any foreigners, interestingly enough. They also didn’t like it if you tried to take their picture, so there wasn’t too many good ones in the end.

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara

Ahhh Japan.

Canon 50mm f0.95 Canon 50mm f0.95

This post is part of a series looking back at my trip to Japan in 2016 along with Grace and Al. (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven). For a shared perspective from all three of us that was written at the time, take a look at japanatrois.wordpress.com.

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6 thoughts on “Japan 2016 Part 4: Akihabara, Electric City

  1. Beautiful photos! Would love to visit Japan someday and especially Akihabara.

  2. Beautiful. And the ubiquitous Pocky.

  3. Ahh the small toy vending machines are called ‘gachapon’. Japanese onomatopoeia for the noise it makes when vending, ‘gacha, gacha’.

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