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.
Based on first impressions, the hostel was very good. Of course, it’s also very new, so that helps with cleanliness.
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.
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.
I sat down for a while to have a hot snack from a convenience store and drink some coffee.
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
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.