Day 15: Akihabara revisited
On day 15, our stay at Asakusa Weekly Mansion ended, and we would have to shift over to a much smaller hotel in Ueno. We checked out in the morning and headed straight over, finding the place without much incident and leaving our luggage there as it was not time to check in yet. This time, the hotel was walking distance from Akihabara so we devoted the entire day to a revisit, having only spent half a day here last time.
As we had first come to Akihabara on New Year’s Day, both the AKB48 and Gundam Cafe were closed but today they were both open and bustling with activity. Originally, I predicted that I would be in a dilemma regarding which cafe to dine at on the day that I would come here. Their being next to each other would not help. However, I noticed that while the Gundam Cafe had a queue of 5 to 6 people, the AKB48 Cafe & Shop had 3 separate queues leading into different parts of the establishment and they did not move as quickly as I liked. And so, to the Gundam Cafe we went!
The food was pricey and it was obvious we would be paying for novelty rather than quantity or quality. They weren’t amazing but the names were so epic, particularly if you are a Gundam fan. After having eaten, I paid a visit to the toilet which was decidedly high tech. In the male/female room was a glowing button that had the words “Push start button RX-78-2 Gundam” around it. Pushing this would result in the lights dimming, Gundam activating and launching sound effects played over the speakers, and the back wall revealing itself to be a giant RX-78-2 Gundam head when the eyes light up. Very, very cool indeed. Done with our meal, we tackled the queue to the two AKB48 shops that were part of the AKB48 Cafe & Shop building next door. I bought some stuff for friends who wanted items, as well as a trinket or two for myself. Loot photos later.
We took some time to browse the usual anime shops before heading back to the hotel as some of our travelling party wished to take a rest. Dropping them off, the remainder of us walked right back to Akihabara, this time peeking into Don Quixote where the AKB48 official shop had opened itself again to the public. It was similar to the SKE48 Shop at Sunshine Sakae with names and occasional pictures of purchasable goods on the walls but we realized that AKB48 doesn’t do photosets the same way that its sister groups do. Thus, there was nothing much we wanted from here except for photo sleeves which I believed would come in handy later.
Exiting Don Quixote, we caught sight (and sound) of an interesting shop on the other side of the road. It was promoting Carnival Phantasm at this time but was selling pretty much everything, including CDs, DVDs, photobooks, figurines, gunpla and gachapon. It would be at this place where I end up buying four AKB48-related CDs. Since I don’t remember exactly when I bought which CD, I shall add them all at the end of this post in the loot photos. We also found a cool building called Akiba Culture Zone which had several idol and anime shops, a cubicle type store for 2nd hand goods (like Mandarake), and a Good Smile Cafe. The cafe was closed for another few hours for some reason so we decided to return after dinner.
Eventually, we returned to the hotel to pick up the remainder of our travelling party in order to have dinner together. For some reason, we decided to try Pepper Lunch which thankfully turned out to be pretty good. It was a little bit of a challenge communicating with the service staff but it worked out in the end. We would then return to Anime Culture Zone to browse and visit the Good Smile Cafe.
Photographs were allowed and staring at the figures seemed to be encouraged, even if you don’t order anything to eat, so we took our time to admire the large collection of items on display here. At this point in time, they were celebrating Carnival Phantasm, Fate/Zero, and Madoka, which would be reflected in the menu as well as the merchandise sold outside the cafe. The more impressive pieces were very expensive (of course) and the cheaper items did not interest me so I left empty handed. We then made the walk back to the hotel and retired for the night. The Kin Sma special on AKB48’s record award win was aired tonight.
Things we learnt today:
- Next time I will prepare to queue for the AKB48 Cafe. I want that Notyet Cheese Chige Nabe.
- No trip to the Gundam Cafe is complete without pressing the button in the toilet.
- Good Smile Cafe has lots of cool stuff on display, and this changes every so often as new anime is celebrated. Definitely worth a visit.