Akihabara, a dog`s paradise!

Trip Start Jun 09, 2009
1
8
17
Trip End Jul 05, 2009


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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Sunday, June 21, 2009

We got up yesterday morning around seven.  It went surprisingly slowly (in contrast to today) and we were ready to leave by around 8:30.  As per usual, we attended the Yahoo! Cafe here at the hotel to get a little somethin` somethin` from our mailboxes and then we were off!  After eating.  And sitting around talking about the world.  So we really left around two.

Contrary to my previous idea of how long it would take to get to Akihabara, it was actually not so far away - probably about sixteen minutes.  It had its own little stop on the Yamanote Line, which was very convenient because that`s the main line that everybody who`s anybody is on when you`re a station (Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Ueno, us (Shinagawa) and many others are also there).

When we first got there, we went to Akky, which was a duty-free shop that the internet was all excited about, but it wasn`t all that.  It had a bottom floor for souvenirs and stuff and then one for appliances and others for electronics, but everything was super expensive (even if it was adaptable for foreign use).  They had Mario games, but Sean said he had ALL of them.

So then we went to another electronics store.  Because we just couldn`t get enough.  And there were lots of fun cameras, again some for foreign use, as one helpful man told us, though we just ignored him and continued looking at the Japanese selection.  On later floors, things got a bit more interesting.  There were lots of suggestive dolls created for men who like cartoon women better than real ones.  You could undress some of them and one or two were in bondage.  This would be one of our more mild experiences with them, as they got worse throughout the trip.

Next we went into a pachinko-arcade hybrid.  We were trying to take videos as discreetly as possible, but we were apparently spotted rather early on, as I wasn`t as sly as I thought I was.  It was incredibly loud and there was a lot of activity going on.  Sean and I have hypothesized that this was the reason that the employees couldn`t catch up to us quickly enough.  They were just so disoriented and their senses so overloaded that they had gone partially blind and were actually just wandering in the direction of our garbled English shouting as we fled.  Evidently I didn`t get the second fun video that I thought I was taking, but only one.

In other news, Sean took yet another picture of a pornography store by accident.  We wandered inside and were about to head up the stairs (because the first floor looked relatively harmless) when we both simultaneously noticed different things about the place that made it seem less than savory.  I saw pictures of half-naked girls spread-eagled in posters up the staircase and he saw an advertisement for the fourth floor that featured women in bondage.  So... we left.

There were a couple of fun arcades around with lots and lots of claw machines just as impossible as those in America, which made us feel quite at home.  Throughout the night Sean and I would attempt to strategize a way to win a fun anime girl model for my cousin, though we would fail repeatedly.  Sean finally got to place Street Fighter.  Unfortunately, however, it was connected to the internet and so he didn`t have a chance to fight anyone seated directly nearby.  And the controls were a bit difficult to get use to considering the instructions were in Japanese.  But he wants me to mention that he did win a match once - so ha, he says.  We wanted to play this game where you get into this crazy shuttle thing, but you play with other people in the crazy shuttles and it cost like sixteen dollars per person and we were all like: "We aren`t made of money, Akihabara."  Sean also got made fun of by some random boys, but he scared them off.

We encountered the famous maids from the Akihabara maid cafes.  They were wandering the streets handing out advertisements and just looking cute in general.  A few of them were up on a balcony with megaphones strapped to the ledges.  The same Japanese messages were being repeated over and over while the girls did handsigns to accompany them.  It was obvious that the owners of the shops were trying to fool us into thinking that those on the balcony were speaking, but we were too smart for them.  We, here in America, know that you generally have to open your mouth for sound to come out.  Anyway, I couldn`t get very many pictures of them.  Later, I had a few of them on the corner outright hide their faces from me, which was disappointing.  Why are you out dressed like that if you don`t want your pictures taken, girls?

By the way, on a side note, every time that people pass out flyers, I take them out of guilt, much to Sean`s frustration.  My purse is full of them.  I reason that we may one day be lost and not have enough money and need a discount to get food so that we don`t starve in a foreign city miles from home.  But this is not enough for him.  If I won`t stop taking flyers, he`ll go directly to the source.  One man was attempting to lead us to another duty-free shop.  I believe that Sean and I were BOTH walking there, though he claims he was just walking in that direction.  Then, as we were about to enter the shop, Sean turned the tables on the poor man and was just like NOPE.  Seriously.  He said "nope" and then he led me away.

We weren`t sure where to go next and so we stopped by one of the ubiquitous maps on the corner and took a gander.  There was apparently a Don Quijote in the area, which we had heard a lot about, and decided to go looking for it.  Unfortunately, we were quickly distracted.  We went back across the street, walking towards the area where the JR was located and saw a couple of fun things:
a) a green car that looked like a cat
b) a man rapping in front of a glasses store
We have a picture and video of both.  Sadly, a lot of these places disallow photographs to be taken inside and so we don`t have many pictures of what was to follow in the buildings.  We wandered into some strange alleyway shops.  There was a gumball machine where you could get famous Greek or Roman statues and we took a picture of that because it was outside and therefore we couldn`t get yelled at.  As we went up the stairs, things got a little weirder.  There were several model floors where you could buy models or buy the things to make them.  Many of the models were of girls and were posed in gradually more promiscuous ways.  There was a girl from the Bible Black series, which is a hentai or pornographic anime that features weird situations involving black magic, humiliation, and girls with penises.  And when we went in one shop, there was even a woman model getting raped by a dog.  It sounds really terrible, but for some reason Sean and I thought it was so strange that it was funny.  There was some guy at the glass case, too, taking a look.  But I`ll steer clear of some of the less savory details.

In shop with the woman-dog coupling, there were a lot of models that were dressed as movie characters, which Sean and I were pretty amazed at - they looked very much like the actors.  There was an inmistakeable Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, and Johnny Depp.  Sean was also quite pleased that there were smaller versions of Michael Jackson from the Thriller music video.  But it was all really expensive and so we were forced to leave empty-handed.

We finally did find Don Quijote, by the way, and it was quite by accident.  There isn`t too much to say about it.  It was kind of like a department store or a dollar store kind of deal and it was really brimming with stuff.  There was a naughty floor with costumes and it was all lit up with Christmas lights.  There was also, for some reason or another, an Obama mask kind of wedged between R2D2`s head and body.  You can see that picture I snuck somewhere amongst those I uploaded.  I feel as though they simultaneously idolize and make fun of our president here.  Some things like the candles and the pastries and the masks on Star Wars robots are too strange to be a commemoration.

As a final note on the day, on our way back to the JR station at the end of the night, a man stopped me and Sean at a light and asked, in relatively good English, if he could take a picture of me.  He told me he thought I was pretty.  Sean and I deliberated and we decided we`d allow it.  I thought it was kind of nice that he directed the question at both of us (though perhaps more at Sean than myself) because it kind of does matter what Sean thinks in those sorts of situations.

And that`s that for the day`s happenings.

I`m going to add on a couple more things before I end this entry.  I don`t know if I`ve mentioned this or if anyone has noticed it, but the desserts here in Japan are so pretty.  They`re always decorated just perfectly.  You can also pick up really fun desserts in the grocery store.  Sean and I have gotten some sort of strange mousse, a tira misu, and a cheesecake all in relatively small containers and they were decorated and fun looking.  They seem to like waffles a lot and so there are small, thick waffles on breakfast menus and waffles you can buy in the store ready-to-eat, both of which are pretty much the same and have sugar baked in.  You can also get waffle ice-creams (waffles with icecream and chocolate inside) and there was a fun stand in Akihabara that had thick waffle bowls with icecream or other sweets inside them.  I know I make a lot of jokes at Japanese culture and Sean and I might complain about the food or whatever, but we don`t really mean anything we say in a negative way.  We would poke just as much fun at people in America if we were home.  Besides, I think that it`s interesting that, in a society that`s not seemingly as racially or culturally diverse, they still manage to adopt a lot from others and make it their own.  Examples of this would be the small, thick, ready-to-eat waffles and the fast-food crepes, the pizza and pastas with corn on top, and the strange potato stands in Asakusa I was lucky enough to see last year.  So that`s all.  Hopefully no one has been offended.

I also want to say that I was actually kind of angry during our time in Akihabara because I witnessed a commercial that was making a mockery of westerners.  There was a Japanese man dressed up as a blonde-haired and blue-eyed, hawk-nosed and big-breasted, flamboyantly pink-dressed caucasian who was acting ignorantly and had to have her Japanese companion, seated next to her, guide her away out of ignorance and into the way of whatever was being advertised.  I think even the most culturally-sensitive and self-hating westerner would have felt a tinge of annoyance at the way we were being portrayed.  I would like to remind everyone that we were the ones that invented the television set I was watching it on, discovered the electricity that powered the television set, built the first planes, ancestors of those that these people were flying in and also used the first chairs, ancestors of those that they were sitting in, and created the plastic that was used to portray our beak-noses and torpedo-breasts in the commercial.  By no means am I deeming western culture superior, but I am saying that we are by no means stupid and deserving of ridicule.  If I can find the commercial on youtube I`ll post it so you can see how obnoxious it is.  But I`ve written way more than I usual do in these entries and so I`ll put a stop to that now.  Hopefully we`ll get more comments soon.  We`ve been missing them.
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Comments

Gaga on

I'm not Japanese neither Caucasian, and I wonder why did you get so mad about silly advertisement like that? Why should you mention that it's the Westerners who invented all those things? Anyway, I sense a kind of inferiority feeling for someone who perhaps mostly think of her race as the best and suddenly face the fact that other race is actually superior. Look, to be honest they make use all of those high tech gadgets in a real life more than any western country does. Their country is clean, well organized, efficient. They're polite and have so little crimes compared to your country and other western countries. You said that you can find all new gadgets or games there in the US. Oh come on, in Akihabara there're plenty new gadgets and games you don't and will never know that they exist. Get life, sorry for revealing the truth, nice blog though....:)

seanandkat
seanandkat on

Coming from somebody who was there, and from somebody who knew Kat very well. I am offended by the inference that Kat is any sort of white supremacist, or has some secret reservations about her race "not being as good as another." I can tell you from personal conversations that Kat believes all races to be equal, as should you. She had every right to be offended by that commercial, just as an Asian would have a right to be offended by seeing an old comedic "Me so sorry" bit, with slanted eyes and buck teeth on a white person pretending to be Asian. It's straight out offensive, and something unfitting of modern society.

I can also tell you that Kat and myself think nothing but highly of the Japan, and the Japanese people. I myself mark it as the greatest month of my life, and I believe Kat feels similarly. Take it from somebody who actually knows the "truth." You are dead wrong about your impressions of Kat.

---Sean

Gaga on

Dear Sean & Kat, sorry for my harsh comment. I take it back. Anyway, I enjoy your blog. You two have tried pretty hard to show people here about how Japan looks like. Though based on my experiences living in Europe, Japan, and US, I don't always agree with your thoughts on Japan, but I guess it's your right to have different opinions, and I should appreciate it. Again so sorry, and thank you for letting us (me) reading your interesting blog.

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