Archive for the ‘akihabara’ Tag

Akihabara Craziness

Maids in the street!

Maids in the street!

Random Observation/Comment #57: French maid dresses worn by Japanese girls have been added to my fantasies. It’s not perverted (or dodgy), honest: They’re just so damn cute in short skirts and high stockings.

R.J., compared to my uber-Otaku nature, is a level 3 at best (it’s not supposed to make sense). He’s gone above and beyond by getting the Gundam Seed Destiny tattoo and watching all of the Gundam series (which is about 400 episodes or something ridiculous like that), but he hasn’t watched all of the underground anime that is not on adult swim. He plays a lot of Japanese PSP and DS games as well, which might be a different nature, but his anime and manga skill level needs some upgrading. If he follows my teachings, he will also become a master, but until then he’ll need patience and training (hours of anime watching). The power is within him, but it will take time to tame the beast.

Keeping this obsession in mind, Akihabara sounded like the best place to go. He said that he wanted to buy a $200 cos-play maid outfit for his gf (of 2 weeks), but I thought he was just joking. Little did I know that he basically spent money like a kid in a candy store (except the candy here was much more expensive and his budget seemed to know no bounds).

My vision of Akihabara was very different from what it actually looks like. For some reason I pictured a lot more flashy things capturing my attention instead of a few major strips, lined with malls for electronics. Most of it was expensive, but I really enjoyed the variety. I didn’t have the money or space in my luggage to get some of the really cool things, but the pictures will have to do. There was a large amount of hentai porn in plain sight and a few major sega arcade areas, but the hype built me up for something like a golden bridge or arc with anime girls flying around you for personal selection.

The one thing that did come true was the larger number of normal (maybe normal) girls dressed up as maids in the arcades (and even out on the streets), passing out fliers and waiting tables. They were absolutely adorable and I felt bad not taking one of the fliers from them even if I couldn’t read it. The maid cafés that we passed by looked pretty interesting, as well. From my conversation with Chris, Otakus basically go to these places to have lunch and talk with these cute girls in maid outfits. You pay to have them play games with you, and they draw little smiley faces with ketchup on your food. The games, such as rock-paper-scissors, would be a betting game where the loser drinks some tomato juice, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and raw egg concoction. The weird thing is that these guys actually are trying to lose to seem more chivalrous when they have to drink it in front of them. I don’t think I will ever be that desperate for attention.

Overall, the street looks like any ordinary street surrounded by maid outfits. The hobby and gadget places have a large selection, but unlike Hong Kong, have only one store to choose from. It doesn’t really make a difference to shop around if you find something you like. Be hopeful that you’ll stumble upon something you like, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t wind up living in a girl’s dormitory with girls of all ages that slowly start to fall in love with you as the episodes pass.

~See Lemons in Otaku Heaven

Tokyo Day 1: Take advantage of being a tourist

cool shopping district area

cool shopping district area

Random Observation/Comment #54: My first hostel experience is a positive one – I did not get killed (Because living is good, and dying is not as good).

The packed suitcase, backpack, and messenger bag became a nuisance very quickly. In Shinosaka, I boarded the Nozumi train, unaware of the restrictions of the JR pass. This super-duper express looked slick and had reserved seats. With my large luggage and foreign look of confusion, the English speaking attendant let me stand and get off in Kyoto without paying the extra charge. I wanted to stand there and take pictures out the window anyway, so it really wasn’t a big deal. The shinkansen took about 15 minutes from Osaka to Kyoto, so this cut my commute down. From Kyoto to Tokyo, I took the normal Hitari for 3 hours and typed my long-winded journal entries.

Arriving at Tokyo at 3PM, I was completely unprepared for the level of complexity of the JR and subway tracks. I thought that Osaka was complicated, but now I saw a larger monster of confusion. There were rails everywhere and it made me feel like I was in the future – Japan is only a few hours ahead, but you’d be surprised how much they can accomplish with those few hours. I was expecting flying cars or floating traffic signals accompanying the transportation beast. With the heavy luggage reminding me of my homeless situation, I followed the shabby directions towards my hostel for the night. The poor planning on my part left me without a place to stay for a night. I had a few backup plans with capsule hotels and random hostels, but I went to the one that was closest to the station.

It was obvious that I was lost. I stepped on and off trains looking around for a guardian angel to lead my way. This angel wore jeans and read a manga with black rimmed glasses. He spoke very little English and we communicated through broken Mandarin and Japanese. I am very grateful for his kindness.

My coffin accompanied 15 others on the fourth floor. Although the wooden cabinet was not painted or built with much precision, the mattress and pillow felt like a cheaper version of the space technology beds. There was a little window cut out with a lock, but the carpenter forgot to account for the fact that the piece of wood was not thin enough to just cut two perfect squares in the wooden panel and expect it to open. It’s like making a double door where the doors meet exactly in the middle such that the thickness obstructs any of the sides from opening. I bowed my head in shame and embarrassment for such terrible engineering.

After leaving my things at the hostel, I boarded a train to Asakusa and did the touristy walk from one giant lantern to another, through the dense crowds of foreigners looking for gifts for loved ones back home. Because of the size of the lantern, I found a new angle to hold the camera (vertical with my head on the bottom and the lantern scenery on top). This should be an added variety to the normal “myspace profile picture pose.”

I must have taken at least 300 pictures in 3 hours. The sun was setting behind the shrines, temples, and pagodas so it was a field day for lens flare. Just outside the temple was a large cauldron with lit incense. It is said that rubbing the smoke onto your wounded areas will help them heal, so you see many locals wafting smoke into their face and then washing themselves with this fluid (it actually looks really funny). The burning sensation in your eyes means that it’s working.

The inside of the temple was not anything particularly unique from what I had seen in Kyoto, but there were 100 yen fortunes on both sides. In order to pray for the success of my family and friends, I shook the box of sticks with numbers written on them. After a single stick fell out, you get the unique fortune corresponding to the number written on the stick. I got the “Best Fortune” and it basically said that everything bad will be good, everything would sick will be cured, and everything unhappy will become happy. I think it’s time to buy a lottery ticket.

After feeding my camera’s 2GB stomach, I had to fill my own. I found this little place that let me cook my okonomiyaki and just sat on those tatami mats for a while. The little part of the town could be walked in an hour, but I stayed for four because I didn’t know where else I could go that would not be repeated by the tour. Pity I was so disciplined. I could have followed those British fellows and hot girls from the hostel to that club. My Mom’s nagging about being sure not to miss the tour got me paranoid. Oh well – just another night of catching up with my internet usage. TED talks continue to amaze me =).

~See Lemons annoyed at his luggage

Beautiful Lens Flare

Beautiful Lens Flare