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  • Shona McCarthy

Otaku Land: Akihabara


It's a sad fact that I didn't learn how close my Tokyo accommodations were to Akihabara till I was in Tokyo, so I didn't schedule specific time to see Akihabara. I mean, on some level I didn't prioritise it because I knew it wasn't what I was in Japan to see. But on another level, I knew my beloved nerd friends back home would want to see my photos of it. So, I did a short walkabout while I had the chance. But I was dragging my luggage with me as I went, meaning that I could not do or see anything that wasn't at street level.

Nonetheless, it is known as a Mecca for Otakus, or people who are die-hard fans of Japanese pop culture.

The first thing I learned is that you can't simply take a photo with a maid from a maid cafe. Even just a photograph will cost money.

(A sandwich board advertising a maid cafe. It seems those maids will even give you a massage to help you relax! Taken by me, 2019.)

The second thing I learned is that you can get socks there that are covered in Pokemon. The third thing I learned is that shops you'll see all over Japan, like Lawson and Matsu Kyo, will theme themselves with anime related products to blend in.

The fourth thing I learned is that the local food is freakishly expensive.

(Just look at how delicious yet incredibly expensive that food looks! So you have size reference, those sandwiches are normal size. Taken by me, 2019.)

(Pictures of Akihabara Station. I got trapped here trying to go to the bathroom. Yay! Taken by me, 2019.)

(The distinctive sights around Akihabara. If you've seen the Detective Pikachu movie (2019) you'll notice the city in that movie looks a lot like Akihabara. I don't think that's an accident! Taken by me, 2019.)

(Sushi and taiyaki can be eaten in Akihabara, But look closely! Those are magikarp taiyaki! Taken by me, 2019.)

(Some kimono related things I am about to talk about. Brace yourself. Taken by me, 2019.) Looking around at the inaccurate kimono information around Akihabara was a sticking point for me. I saw one store that perpetuated the myth that yukata are for men and kimono are for women. Let me be clear on this; the terms "yukata" and "kimono" have nothing to do with gender! Yukata is a type of cotton casual robe that is structured much like a kimono and can be made for men and women depending on sleeve shape. There are kimono for both men and women that may be made of wool, silk or linen! And those polyester sateen robes are not kimono! you are being horribly cheated if you pay that much money for them thinking they are the real thing! Also, you can't have giant boobs and then wear a kimono so smoothly! You are much better off with tiny boobs! Even my boobs are tiny and a geisha I met two years ago still told me I needed to restrain them when wearing kimono! I repeat: Small boobs are great for kimono! Thank you. Anyway, if you love anime and manga or technology, go to Akihabara. If you're after accurate kimono culture combined with these things, you're better off visiting the Pokemon Centre in Kyoto. But don't bring a giant suitcase like I did or you won't see much.

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