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Saturday, 31 May 2014

BLOG -- My trip to Japan -- ADVENTURE PART 2 (Akihabara, Ikebukuro)

Now on to Part 2 -- covering two of the most nerdiest areas we hit (and I say "nerdy" with tons of endearment, as usual :)).

To read Part 1 (my time in Asakusa, Meguro, and Odaiba), click here.


AKIHABARA

DAYS SPENT: 2

OVERALL THOUGHTS: This is indeed a nerd / otaku city, with so many nerd and electronic shops, as well as a number of arcades. There were a bunch of maid cafes, too.

PLACES VISITED:

Kotobukiya


This is a seven-floor nerd store selling various anime / video game merchandise like stationary, plushies, figures, CDs, DVDs, etc. They also had a small section dedicated to selling empty figure cases, which was nice. I needed an empty case, just to have a sturdy container to bring back some fragile-ish purchases.

Super Retro Potato-kan


This place specialized in selling used vintage video games. They also had a section for used video game music. I spent a lot of time in that section. :)

A shot of all the used retro games inside. I wish the games were in English!

Another shot. Look, Mother 2!

Mandarake Complex


This was a nine-floor emporium for a lot of otaku merchandise. At the time of this writing, I am not sure if this place carries only used merchandise or a mix of new and used merchandise. 

If given the chance, I could have spent an entire day there. One floor was devoted to figures / models; one floor to manga; one floor was also devoted to 18+ stuff and there was a sign at the entrance noting such (I didn't walk into that floor at all, lol). There was also a small floor devoted to cosplay and the doll dress up culture that's either growing or is already booming (I'm not in that culture so I'm not sure about its current status). The floor I could have spent a lot time in was (surprise surprise) the music CDs and gaming. I saw old used mini CD singles for 100 yen! 100 yen! I totally regret not picking up any now. :( I really like owning CD singles that contain instrumental tracks, and a lot of old CD singles have them.
  
Gachapon Kaikan

This was a place that had a ton of gachapon machines (capsule vending machines that contain a toy inside the capsule). It was really interesting to see the different kinds of toys available. There was even a machine that contained cell phone straps with a plastic potato chip replica attached. I ended up spending a good amount of money at this place.

Cospatio

This was two floors above Gachapon Kaikan and it was all cosplay stuff. It was really amazing to see so many different costumes and accessories. Unfortunately, the costumes were very expensive, ranging from 30,000 yen to way more. I ended up buying a few generic anime-designed glasses, a couple colour contacts (I better wear these before they expire!), and a clip on tie. 

Yodabashi Camera

This was a huge electronic / toy store. We mainly browsed around the floor with the figures / models / toys. It is definitely worth checking out for the figures / models.

Club Sega


This is an arcade. The interesting thing about arcades in Japan is that most (or all) of them have an area just for UFO catching machines (I call them the crane games). The machines are either filled with toys or have a couple of really nice figures or other merchandise (like an anime-themed towel or box of sweets), and you are supposed to direct a crane to the desired item and try to get the crane to move the item into the drop zone. I was very lucky to win an item from one of those machines, after losing so many times at other machines.

In the arcade portion, I played some Taiko Drum Master, this really cool rhythm game called maimai (I've never seen it before until now!), and this funny shooter / rhythm game called Sailor Zombie ~ AKB48 Edition (lol!).


The title screen for Sailor Zombie -- AKB48 Edition.

Opening video for Sailor Zombie -- AKB48 Edition. Such a crazy game!

Shot of me trying out maimai.

video
Video of me and my sister's fiance playing maimai. My sister was 
really ingenious with taking this video and not revealing how I look.

Look! I won something from the crane games. Wheeee!!!


Taito Station

This is similar to Club Sega, but we left quickly because of the cigarette smoke. In arcades, there are certain floors that allow smoking. For Taito Station, that smoking floor was the 2nd floor.

Gundam Cafe

This is a Gundam themed cafe. I'll go into more detail in my Japan Eats blog entry (link will be added once I post it).

Kikanbo


This is a ramen joint specializing in spicy ramen. I was hoping to have dinner here (for the regular non-spicy ramen), but the menu was completely in Japanese. Usually, that wouldn't be an issue, since you can always point at what you want. For Kikanbo, though, the menu was in the form of a machine where you select what you want, as well as what spice level you want -- not exactly point-friendly. So we left without experiencing it :(

A shot of the ordering system. I couldn't read all of it...

OTHER PHOTOS:
I just had to take this huge advertisement for the P3 movie DVD release.

A vampire-dining bar. We didn't go inside, but I could only imagine what would be there.

A shot of a maid cafe waitress waving from the 2nd floor.


IKEBUKURO

DAYS SPENT: 2

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed Ikebukuro a lot. To me, it felt like a more down-played nerdy area in comparison to Akihabara, having a lot more variety of shops. I think if I had to choose between the two, Akihabara would be for hardcore nerdy shopping, and Ikebukuro would be for lightness + less stressed nerdy shopping.

PLACES VISITED:

Uniqlo


This is a clothing store that my Japanese friend recommended we check out. It kinda made me think of a Japanese H&M store.

Animate


Similar to Kotobukiya, this was a 7-floor nerd emporium, carrying various anime and video game merchandise. They even had a floor completely devoted to manga and doujinshi, though the doujinshi was more geared towards a female audience (i.e. doujinshis with tons of HOT bishies). They also had a section just for drawing tools (pens, tablets, etc.). I spent a lot of my time browsing their anime / video game soundtrack section. I can't help but be drawn to all the music that I would usually import! lol.

Namco Namjatown


I was originally set on checking this food theme park out, but once we reached it and I saw the kind of foods featured on the menu, I was a bit turned off. I was hoping for a bunch of traditional snacks like taiyaki, takoyaki, dango... stuff like that. But the food generally looked cutesy and probably overly sweet. I may give it another shot the next time.

J-World


THIS... if you are a fan of Shonen Jump series like One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball, you gotta check this out! It is like an indoor amusement park with various attractions, a cafe area, a gift shop area, and themed decor. I LOVE One Piece so I definitely had to check it out. Admission that allowed unlimited entries into the attractions was 2900 yen. Totally worth it, in my opinion.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the actual attractions, but some of them were really neat. There were five different attractions in total. And for each attraction you do, you receive some kind of collector's medal. You can only receive one medal per attraction per day. It's definitely one way to get people to go back. ;)

One Piece Attractions
"Shiro Mokuba" Carousel -- Just a regular carousel ride. I got to sit on the carousel designed after Sanji (my favourite character in One Piece).

"Soldier Dock" Adventure -- This was a ride with light guns. At certain times, we were to shoot at coral symbols to unlock more... dialogue and video, I think. Unfortunately, everything was in Japanese, so I didn't understand anything. The last video was funny, though. And I enjoyed it!

Dragon Ball Z Attractions
Seek! "Dragon Balls"!! -- This was a really fun attraction where you are given a dragon ball radar, and you set the radar on specific spots to trigger short mini-games. If you win the mini-game, you gain a dragon ball. If you don't, you lose the chance, and you can't replay the game. As expected, all the instructions were in Japanese, so we just had to wing it or figure out what we were supposed to do. My sister and I ended up collecting all the dragon balls! :)

Shoot! "Kamehameha"!! -- This was really cool as well. It was a simulation of doing a kamehameha... while wearing 3D glasses! We were directed to our own room where we would stand at a specific spot and wear the 3D glasses. For me, it felt very real. There was one time when the area moved very quickly forward, and I ended up having my arms out, trying to "keep my balance" (even though I did not move from that spot at all). Ahhhh, I suck, hahaha. 

Naruto Attraction
A fierce fight! "Ninkai Taisen Emaki"!! -- This one was like an obstacle course, but I was very confused for the most part. We were given a booklet with English translations of all the dialogue and instructions of what to do for each spot, but I found that when we read it, we'd miss our chance to do the actual thing -- or it was too dark to read. ><


An area with masks. I see a mask I recognize!

These are pics of the different carousels and who they represent. Sanji's is the yellow one.

A corner with pics of Nami.

This just looked fun so I took a pic!

Is this from Soul Eater? I'm not sure. It looks cool though.

The entrance into Dragon Ball Z attraction.

A cool display. I wish I could have taken the time to try reading it.

Who is this guy? I don't remember from what series.
EDIT: It's Sataka no Gintoki from Gintama

A display for Prince of Tennis.

Another shot.

A character standee from... I don't remember / know which series.

Another character standee from that series.

Luffy from One Piece! I love One Piece! <3


video
When you first step into J-World, there are these video screens, and in the center are various Shonen Jump characters that you can touch. When you touch any of them, they pop up on one of the video screens and speak for a short time. After a while, a bunch of characters from the same series pops up and has a conversation.

This is the conversation with the characters from One Piece. I just had take a video of this. The conversation is entirely in Japanese.

TGIFriday

This is a restaurant with Western foods. I'll go into more detail in my Japan Eats blog entry (link will be added once I post it).

Lotteria

This is a hamburger joint. I'll go into more detail in my Japan Eats blog entry (link will be added once I post it).


OTHER PHOTOS:


A shot of these really nice steps to Sunshine City 
(where Namco Namjatown and J-World were located).

A shot the crane games I saw.




That's it for Part 2. Thanks for reading!! Next blog should be my last adventure blog in Japan: bumming around Shibuya and good old Shinjuku, the place you often run into when playing Shin Megami Tensei games.


If you have any questions or comments about the places I visited, feel free to comment! :)

2 comments:

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