There are few things in life more disgusting than lecherous middle-aged men, and that is lecherous middle-aged, balding men, clad in dork-miester glasses and, get this, a pink Japanese school girl sailor suit outfit (think Sailor Moon, minus the awesome). LET’S SEE EVERYONE GAG. I crap you not, this was the main event that reigns in my mind from my trip to Japan. And where did I see this heinous assault only senses? Why in Akihabara, of course.
For those who are unfamiliar with the great area of Tokyo, known as Akihabara, here’s the Wikilicious description: Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street, Chūōdōri, with many kinds of used items found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3-chōme. First-hand parts for PC-building are readily available from a variety of stores. Tools, electrical parts, wires, micro-sized cameras and similar items are found in the cramped passageways of Soto Kanda 1-chōme (near the station). Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Laox or other specialty shops near the station, though there is more variety and lower prices at locales a little further away. Akihabara gained some fame through being home to one of the first stores devoted to personal robots and robotics (Which yes, I saw some, and yes, some of them are just “EW”).
Now, if you want it in Jayne-English (few rarely do, but I’ve got a few spare seconds so bear with me): It’s weird.
No, seriously. Okay, so maybe the Japanese don’t think much of it – and the oddity that is grown men leering over the anime, panty-clad bodies of prepubescent piggy-tail-clad femmes, but yes, it certainly ranks up high on the scale of heebies. Now, does anyone have any spare jeebies?
Certainly, it was full to the brim with electronic goods, but the humbling fact that all of these items would be just as useful as a chocolate kettle in Australia kept us grounded. And, quite frankly, just a little on the brink of gagging. Electronic goods were not as cheap as you would think – my humble Olympus EP-1 pulled a price of $1400 AUD, which was $300 more than the asking price in Australia. NOT COOL JAPAN, VERY NOT COOL. Most items were purposely up-priced to con tourists. Startlingly, many locals were buying these products as well. Perhaps they were unaware that they were being shamefully ripped-off, or perhaps they were un-savvy in the shopping arena? In any case, if you’re planning to purchase electronics in Japan, be VERY CERTAIN of the prices back home. Being conned in a foreign country is never very fun. Mainly because they can’t understand diddly-squat of what you’re manically shouting at them.
The Maid Cafe girls, doing their thing. Okay, so some of them were just selling electronics, but still – MAID OUTFITS. Oh, and not all of them were very good looking either, which cranked up the amount of Creepy into “Jigsaw the Clown” range.
In any case, the dawn of the 19th of JUNE not only brought upon creepy-guys, but my first Capybara purchase, some gift purchases (at Don Quijote), a trip to Ueno Park and the BENZAITEN and KIYOMIZU KANNON-DO Shrines as well as a cavort around the back alleys of Ueno – and, strangely enough, my first experience with a department center with clothing…
WITHIN MY PRICE RANGE.
I NEARLY CRIED.
NO REALLY, I NEARLY CRIED.
I also managed to get my grubby paws on a Honey’s Loyalty Card.
(B TO THE DUB: My style swings very much towards the CINEMA CLUB variety)
OH YES, I DID.
GINKGO BILOBA LEAVES: Are everywhere in Japan and the trees are also, literally everywhere. They fall very majestically due to their “fan” shape. Wow, I used “majestically” in a sentence.
FORTUNES: Are tied to the strings within the gates of Kiyomizu Kannondo Shrine. These forutunes are known as omikuji (御御籤, 御神籤, or おみくじ). A beautiful and peaceful area. Well, it is if you avoid the homeless drunks. Then it most certainly is beautiful and peaceful.
PRAYERS ON PLANKS: Prayers are tied up outside the Benzaiten (弁才天, 弁財天) Shrine, which sits on an island in Ueno Park’s Shinobazu Pond (不忍池 Shinobazu-ike).
STATUE: of Saigo Takamori. This area is adjacent to the the Kiyomizu Kannondo Shrine and was where I saw an old fella with the most amazing eyebrows. His eyebrows fanned out from his face like wispy fairy floss and actually swayed in the wind.