Akihabara road panorama Tokyo

Japan: Visiting Akihabara a second time, because why not?

Date: 30th March 2015

My second last full day in Japan. I had to make the most of it and do all my shopping today as I would be visiting Hakone tomorrow. I also had to visit Rikugien at night (after I failed to get during my first visit). But before all that, I had to switch hostels. Where I was staying, Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory, didn’t have availability for the next two nights. So I had booked at a brand new hostel called Space Hostel.

Space hostel building Tokyo Japan
It was situated in a neighbourhood called Taito-ku, not too far from Asakusa
Lobby Space Hostel Tokyo Japan
This is the ground floor lobby. You leave your footwear near the door and then enter
Space Hostel kitchen Tokyo Japan
The kitchen is also on the ground floor
Bunk beds Space Hostel Tokyo Japan
A bed in the mixed dorm cost me ¥3200 (Rs. 1600/€24/$27) per night
Bathrooms Space Hostel Tokyo Japan
Shared bathroom and toilets are on the same floor. Multiple shower rooms, wash basins and enough toilets for everyone.
Rooftop Space Hostel Tokyo Japan
Space Hostel’s open rooftop is where you would have to come if you wish to smoke

Based on first impressions, the hostel was very good. Of course, it’s also very new, so that helps with cleanliness.

Familymart 100yen shop Tokyo
I walked around the neighbourhood. Not a whole lot of restaurant choices like there was in Asakusa, but you have enough convenience stores
Tokyo subway train coming Japan
The nearest station is Iriya, which is a 5 minute walk from Space Hostel
Yodobashi Akihabara store Japan
I returned to Akihabara. I had some shopping to do at Yodobashi Akiba.

I bought some Gunpla kits, a PS4 game, some stationary and left. I wanted a Pioneer headphone too but unfortunately it was out of stock. After an hour of just lurking around and staring at gadgets, I decided to leave this amazing mega store. Kids like candy shops, I like electronics shops. I didn’t take many new photos so if you wish to see what it’s like inside Tokyo’s largest electronics store, check out this post.

Akihabara office building Tokyo Japan
And since I was here already, I felt like walking around the ‘otaku hub’ once again
Akihabara crossing billboards Tokyo
I love being in Akihabara. It’s one of those places that turns out exactly worth the hype — if you are a nerd for Japanese pop culture that is.
Schoolgirls promo girls Akihabara Tokyo
The schoolgirl promo girls were busy handing out flyers as usual
Modified motorcycle Akihabara Tokyo Japan
Some crazy modded bike I saw as I walked around
Mulan Akihabara shop Tokyo
I came across this shop called Mulan. No, it’s not a recycle shop. The ‘recycle’ here means it deals in second-hand goods as well.
Mulan Akihabara DVD floor Japan
They deal in anime, manga (comics)…
Mulan Akihabara PC games floor Tokyo
… videogames (PC, consoles and retro)
JAV floor Mulan Akihabara shop
… and porn
Mulan Akihabara porn shop Tokyo Japan
Lots and lots and lots of porn
Mulan Akihabara porn floor Tokyo
And these panties, let’s just say women aren’t the ones buying them. Oh Japanese nerds.
Love Merci Akihabara shop Tokyo
This shop was just floors of sex toys, costumes and porn. One floor for women…and the rest for men I guess.
Asobit City Akihabara Tokyo Japan
I checked out another store, Asobit City
Anime cosplay costumes Asobit City Akihabara
Besides the usual manga, anime and videogames, they had a large variety of cosplay costumes
Model kits toys Asobit City Akihabara
They also had a floor full of model kits…
Guns Asobit City Akihabara Tokyo
… and guns?
Card shop Akihabara Tokyo
Right next door was a shop selling cards, but I didn’t really know what kind of cards. All of them had some anime character on it.
Trader 2 Akihabara shop Tokyo
Trader’s second store in Akihabara
Ed On Laox Akihabara store Tokyo
Just a warning, avoid the tourist traps of Akihabara

What are the tourist traps? Well, since gaining it’s mainstream and touristy reputation as a hub for electronics, gadgets and overall the geeky stuff that made Japan famous, it now draws tourists of all kinds. I saw buses upon buses of package tour groups from China all being taken to mega stores like Laox which sell a good enough selection of consumer electronics and typical Japanese souvenirs.

Problem is, the prices I saw at Laox were highly inflated for some goods. By now I had been to enough electronics, souvenir stores, and geek shops to get a good understanding of what the average price is for a certain item. These Chinese tourists were buying a lot of stuff, most because they trust Japanese goods over their own. True, the world does, but ironically even the Japanese brands are mostly all ‘Made in China’. To cater to them, stores like Laox also had Mandarin-speaking staff, so that makes it easier for the tourists.

I guess this is the problem with package tourism. Limited time and being shown what the travel agent/guide wants you to see. Of course the travel companies get a commission for bringing in customers, but the tourists don’t really get the chance to walk around and find a bargain. One more reason why I never do package tours.

Akihabara road panorama Tokyo
Anyway, it was time to leave amazing Akihabara
Akihabara open area panorama Tokyo
But I didn’t feel like hoping on a train and leaving Akihabara just yet
Akihabara junction Tokyo Japan
Instead I decided to walk around and see Akihabara minus all the anime and videogames
River stream Akihabara Tokyo Japan
Seems a lot calmer out here compared to its otaku neighbourhood
Akihabara district shrine Tokyo Japan
I wonder how long that old-fashioned building will last amidst all the modernization

I sat down for a while to have a hot snack from a convenience store and drink some coffee.

Coffee cans vending machines Japan
I bought my coffee from a vending machine, which stocks both hot and cold drinks

If you are wondering how the hot coffee is kept hot in the same vending machine that also keeps cold drinks cold, watch this segment from Begin Japanology on how these vending machines work

Sakura trees Akihabara street Tokyo
It was nice to see a side of Akihabara that isn’t popularly associated with it

I left Akihabara and headed to Ueno Park after this. I wanted to see if the cherry blossom scene had improved since my last visit to the park. It sure did and it was awesome! But that’s the next post.

Next few posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park

Japan 2015: Rikugien garden’s weeping cherry blossom tree

Japan 2015: Getting to Hakone; Lake Ashi sightseeing cruise

Japan 2015: Hakone ropeway; onsen at Hotel Green Plaza

Japan 2015: Ōwakudani sulphur springs, views of Mt. Fuji — and last night in Tokyo

Japan 2015: Getting to Narita Airport — and flying an Airbus A380 for the first time

Previous posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen

Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River

Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple

Japan 2015: Shopping in Shinjuku, and exploring Kabukicho

Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku — views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more

Japan 2015: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom

Japan 2015: Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, leaving Himeji for Tokyo — and my last bullet train ride

Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show

Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza

Japan 2015: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time

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