After dropping off my bags in my new room at the Weekly Mansion, I decided to check out the town to figure out where the food was. However, I ran into Austin in the elevator on the way down. He was going to Akihabara (秋葉原) to buy a digital camera since his had just recently stopped working. Akihabara, for those not in the know, is essentially the biggest geek fest in Tokyo, perhaps even in all of Japan. If you need anything computer related, you’ll find it there. They also have just about every anime and manga under the sun. They’re also home to a uniquely Japanese phenmenon, the maid cafe. More on that in a bit. Also, Akihabara is commonly abbreviated as Akiba (アキバ).
The train ride on the Yamanote line (山手線) from Sugamo to Akiba was about 22 minutes. When we left the Akiba station, we didn’t go straight into the electric town. Instead, we crossed under the tracks and went in to Yodobashi Camera. Yodobashi camera is pretty amazing. Think of 7 floors of a combination of Fry’s, Best Buy, Office Depot, and a hobby shop or two.
Since we were on a mission, we went straight up to the cameras. They have pretty much every point and shoot camera under the sun plus quite a bit of higher-end stuff. They also had a rather impressive selection of tripods. The prices might not have been the best ever, but the selection was very impressive. After quite a bit of deliberation, we decided on a camera. Then we headed back under the tracks to the Akiba Electric Town. The interesting thing about the stores in Akiba is that they have a very small footprint but go up six or seven stories. That means if you don’t go up and down stairs all day long, you can’t see more than 1/6th of what’s there. We didn’t buy anything else there besides the camera, but we did walk around quite a bit.
One thing we noticed right off the bat is the sheer number of young girls dressed up in miniskirt maid uniforms passing out pamphlets. We didn’t think much of them at first, but after a bit of walking around Austin accepted a pamphlet from one of them and then proceeded to get cajoled into a conversation. Neither of us completely understanding what was going on, so we let her lead us to a building not far away. She led us up the elevator and into a place that looked kind of like a bar, but with far too much pink and white. It was staffed entirely by 15 or 16 year old girls all dressed in the same miniskirt maid outfit that our guide was wearing. It finally dawned on us that it was a maid cafe, specifically MaiDreamin. Neither of us wanted to pay for the seating charge and some rather expensive drinks at the moment, so we had to delicately attempt to extricate ourselves from the situation with our rather limited knowledge of Japanese. Fortunately, we were successful.
After that little adventure, we walked around a bit more. It’s amazing all of the random odds and ends in Akiba. Below is an example. Believe me, it might seem weird, but after running around Akiba for half a day, it almost seems normal.
We ended up eating dinner in a restaurant in Akiba Ichi near the station then taking the Yamanote line back home.