Day 16: Harajuku to Shibuya, and Asakusa revisited
Today’s revisits would be more objective-oriented and involve much less exploring. We had an appointment with the AKB48 Harajuku shop and that was our first stop. Turns out the ground floor is free for anyone to walk, browse and purchase items in while the appointment allows you to access the 2nd and basement floors.
Failing expectations, the Harajuku shop was very crowded and did not actually have many items exclusive to itself. Much of the stock can be found at the two branches next to the cafe in Akihabara and even those that you can only find here were either all sold out or not all that appealing. The only thing I would have bought for myself was a framed mini-poster type thing that was on display across a wall on the 2nd floor but all of them were sold out. Disappointed and feeling slightly claustrophobic, I picked up a few things that friends had asked me to help them purchase, paid for them and left the shop.
We went down the usual route through Takeshita Street and waited in front of the building where Sweets Paradise was located. A crowd of girls had already formed here and we did not want to be stuck waiting for a table. Once the building opened its doors, the mob of girls rushed forward to the other end to climb the stairs. We followed, albeit bewildered, but were fortunate to be early enough to be seated at a table straight away. Sweets Paradise is basically a crazy dessert buffet supplemented with savoury pasta and soup. You pay a fixed amount and can eat as much as you can stuff into yourself for 1 hour. Our group had the only male customers in the establishment the entire time we were there which was a little awkward. However, there was a wide selection of cakes, some of them quite good, and the pasta was decent as well. Variety definitely was a plus point and food was made fresh.
Stuffed to the brim with cake, we dropped by the Evangelion store, then headed towards where we thought the SKE48 Shibuya shop would be located. This would bring us past the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.
We eventually came to the SKE48 shop where we had to join yet another queue to enter the tiny room. Similarly to the one at Sunshine Sakae, it sold mainly photosets but had a few other types of merchandise on display too. Some of the more popular sets were still available so I bought one set and left. We then continued towards Shibuya, paying a visit to the Tower Records we had seen on TV so often.
Inside, there was a large section devoted to AKB48. This was not all that surprising since they did win the records award just recently but the scale of the ‘exhibit’ was fairly large. I wasn’t sure if the tiny desks and chairs were intended as props or you were meant to sit at them while acting like otakus.
I did buy a CD, though I don’t remember which one. After this we found the train station and went to Asakusa for dinner at Maguro Bito again as some of us were craving the otoro. I settled for a slightly more conservative menu this time.
The 2nd visit proved to be just as fulfilling and amazing as the first visit so we left extremely happy, again. After that, we bought a few more bottles of pudding from the nearby Testarossa Cafe and paid a visit to the Asakusa Kannon Temple (Sensoji) since it was evening now and the hatsumode crowd had gone. Snapping a few photos, we then left for our hotel.
Things learnt today:
- AKB48 Harajuku shop is probably the only shop you need to visit for AKB48 merchandise. They all pretty much sell the same things anyway, just that this one is bigger, slightly less crowded, and has more things to see.
- Sweets Paradise is certainly an experience. Not recommended for males as you get stared at.
- Try the Shibuya Crepes. We didn’t =(
- SKE48 Shop at Shibuya has more stock as they are less popular in Tokyo than they are in their hometown.
- Going to Asakusa Kannon Temple during hatsumode period is madness. Wait a week before visiting.