Japan Autumn 2012 – Day 11a: Akihabara
Day 11 heralds the start of the my weekend since beginning my student internship (read: work) and it would be packed with things to do. The plan for the day was to head into Tokyo for the Fate/Zero exhibition at Ikebukuro, then swing by Akihabara and spend the rest of the day there. I left Kugayama early in the morning in order to reach the venue at least an hour in advance to purchase tickets since I didn’t have a Japanese address or credit card to pre-purchase tickets in advance. However, this was not to be as the event had sold out solely on pre-purchased tickets so I had to think up of something else to do today.
But first! Before heading over to the Fate/Zero exhibition for failure, I explored the surroundings close to home (shall call the accommodation at Kugayama ‘home’ from now on because it’s just easier that way). Noticing a little turn off into a park-like area on the way to the train station, I decided to walk over and have a look.
The township of Kugayama turned the canal and it’s surrounding area into park, complete with ducks, koi, and even a playground. It was pleasantly understated and very peaceful. Moving on, I reached Ikebukuro, got turned back at the Fate/Zero exhibition, and decided to go over to Akihabara while I figured out a plan for the rest of the day. Akihabara was pretty much exactly the same as I remembered it from the beginning of the year: full of otaku merchandise and bustling with activity. But something was slightly off. There were queues in front of every anime shop and many people were holding huge bags filled with large quantities of similar-sized black boxes. Moving in closer to the queues, I asked a cute cosplayer what was going on.
Anime and hobby shops nationwide were participating in a lottery-style merchandise event with Macross Frontier prizes. The girl holding the wand in the photo above walked me through the process using simple language (whew), saying that all I had to do was buy tickets from the counter on the left, then open up tabs which determined what prize I would receive. I joined in the fun and purchased 3 tickets, winning (losing, actually) myself 2 nyan nyan teapots and a massive pen in the shape of Ranka’s phone. I had friends in mind who I could give these away to but I certainly wasn’t going to try for more.
Once done with that, I went inside the shop itself to ogle at the merchandise. There were lots of tempting little trinkets, gunpla, figurines, and I was very tempted to buy a kit from 5 Star Stories. Thinking that it was still quite early in the day and I didn’t want to be carrying a large box around, I put the kit down and left the shop.
Holding my teapots, I then headed over to Don Quixote to pay AKB48’s home a visit. To my surprise, it was coincidentally theatre photo day so I bought a few sets. The AKB48 shop’s staff were exceptionally unwelcoming, presumably because there have been incidents in the past. All money and merchandise would need to be placed on the counter before being received such that the staff never touches the customer. Not sure if the scowl and condescending tone was company policy too.
It was about this time that I started getting hungry so I crossed the road to the nearby Mos Burger.
The burger was excellent, as can be expected from Mos Burger in Japan. My only gripe was that the burger tried really hard to separate into its base components the entire time I was eating it. Definitely needs some cheese to bind it all together. During my meal, a friend tweeted to me, asking for a few sets of the AKB48 theatre photos so I climbed back up Don Quixote to be scowled at again later.
Satisfied with my visit to Akihabara, I started on my way home but realized that Asakusa is reasonably nearby. Time was plentiful and I had decided that my next destination would be Kichijoji which was only 1 stop from Kugayama. So I made a short detour to Asakusa to get some omiyage for the kind staff at Kugayama.
Asakusa’s famed temple was packed to the brim with tourists, thus I avoided it for today, heading straight for Testarossa Cafe, little stall just off the street which sells only pudding. My hands now full of items, it was time to head back to Kugayama.
The staff were visibly happier after having the pudding for dessert during the lunch break. However, there were exactly 6 staff present at the time so I didn’t get a bottle to myself! But no matter, I could return to the shop any time. I took some time to freshen up and charge my phone, as well as to research a little on Kichijoji.
As this post has already gotten quite lengthy, and my trip to Kichijoji sporting many photos, day 11 shall continue in the next post! Stay tuned~