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Akihabara

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I hadn’t planned to get up particularly early, but I suppose i am still a little jet lagged; I left the room at 8:30, had breakfast downstairs, and headed to the subway.  While I grew up a master of the Metro system in Montreal, I am still not particularly familiar with the Toronto subway system, with the exception of the five or so stops I have taken on a regular basis.  Let’s assume that if I were to stay in Tokyo for a hundred years I would not get to know all of this system…

Tokyo-Metro-Map

So to answer your question, yes I did accidentally get a little lost… but not terribly so, and only on the way back to my hotel.  It wasn’t a big deal though – the line I was on is a loop, and I got on going in the wrong direction.  Once I figured it out I realized it was just as easy to stay put and get off when my stop does come around 🙂

DSCN3907I opted to visit the Akihabara area first because everyone told me to… it is an incredible collection of electronic retailers and more… on a scale that puts New York City’s to shame.  I had no interest in buying anything, but I did want to walk around and see what was on offer.  The simple answer is… everything… and more.

The building pictured (Akiba Zone) is not nearly the only one of its kind, and I am not entirely sure how to describe it.  It seems to be a vertical shopping centre that focuses primarily on anime-type goods, but there is also an army surplus store in it, and a cafe at the top.  The bottom line is that it is a shopping complex that you would think was devoted to kids, except that there are areas of some of the stores that are 18+ only… and for good reason.

I have been here four days and I have yet to figure out if in Japan the porn is anime, or if anime is their pornography.  I think might actually be a little of both.  I will say that there seems to be an unhealthy focus on these characters – they are everywhere – and some of them are not things that children should be exposed to.  However it is not simply animated movies… there are DSCN3879comic books and figurines (shown) on a massive scale that can be overwhelming to the feint of heart.  Heck, it can be overwhelming to anyone!

Why are they disturbing?  The first store I walked into had a hundred displays like the one pictured here.  The figurines have prices that start at about $20… and some of them are in extremely disturbing poses!

I am not entirely sure which scares me most… that people think these up and create them, or that there is a market sufficiently large that there are stores dedicated entirely to this… genre!

DSCN3881Incidentally there was another block (this one only 4 stories tall) that was dedicated to adult entertainment.  There was an interesting twist to it… Each floor was dedicated to a specific theme (for example, Floor 2 was toys for women).  The 3rd floor was for men… and while men were allowed on the 2nd floor, women were forbidden on the third floor!  I thought this was weird… but hey, I am learning.  No, I did not take pictures! 🙂

I turned down an alleyway in the Electric Jungle and came across this scene… a very traditional Japanese dwelling, complete with the garden.  I am not sure if this is a private home or a memorial or something, but it was certainly anachronistic in this setting… and a welcome change 🙂

Speaking of anachronisms, The Yushima Seido is a shrine to Confucius, and  is an amazing structure just a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of Akihabara.  It cost me 200 Yen to get in (about $2) and it was well worth it.  here are a few pictures…

DSCN3887DSCN3893 DSCN3888 DSCN3892 DSCN3894 DSCN3890DSCN3900

…it is amazing to think that all of that beauty is right behind the trees on the other side of this roadway pictured:

DSCN3898

I must have done five miles of walking, so I am glad that I wore my sneakers.  I came back to the hotel to write (I haven’t forgotten my faithful readers!) and to rest up a little… Tonight is another adventure!

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