On 10/22 I went to a Polish Cooking class, on 10/23 I went to the Studio Ghibli Museum, and on 10/24 I went on a field trip with my class to Akihabara. Looking back now, I did a lot more in October than I thought. I guess September was mostly busy with getting into the hang of school and life in Japan and then October was when I finally got used to things and had the free time to go out.
Anyways, for this outing I went with my Soft Power of Cool Japan elective class and teacher to Akihabara, Japan’s famed electric down. In class we study a different concept of “Cool Japan” every week and for this field trip we were kind of looking at Otaku and Maid Cafes.
I had been to Akihabara before so it wasn’t a surprise to me, but it is still something that I felt a little in awe about. The area really is just saturated with billboards and signs which is not uncommon in Japan but the amount of it that is themed with anime is different. I personally don’t have an interest in Anime or Manga so I don’t think that it was as exciting for me as it was for my friends who could see their favorite anime and manga figurines in the stores and in the arcade claw machines but I still thought it was fun to be able to see how excited they were.
Since it was for a class there was some educational aspect to it in the sense that we were supposed to pay more attention to our surroundings and consider what had changed about Akihabara from what we learned about Akihabara in the past.
We walked through the small remaining area that contained the packed little shops of people selling different electrical parts and also went to the building called Radio Kaikan which used to have been the focal point of Akihabara when it was mainly the home of only Otakus and not really the tourists and cosplayers that have overtaken the area today.
After we had a short exploration time through all the different floors of the Radio Kaikan we took a walk to a nearby temple (for some reason). It turned out that this temple is unique because it caters to the Otaku audience by offering omamori or charms for your computer like to ward off viruses and it comes in the shape of a computer chip.
You could also tell that you were in the otaku area because most of the ema or wooden prayer boards had drawings of anime characters or other original characters that people made wishes for.
My personal favorite part of this temple was this statue thing. I have no idea what it was for but I preferred it over the pitiful miniature pony that they had in a little fenced off area. It looked pretty sad so I didn’t take a photo of it.
After we finished at the temple then we walked back to the main area of Akihabara to experience a maid cafe. We went to a cafe that our teacher usually takes her students to that has a school theme but is one of the more “tame” themed cafes.
We weren’t allowed to take any photos in there so I can’t share that, but let’s just say it was an interesting experience. We got there and were seated at tables that were the same ones that we would use at school, and then we chose a drink that was our “entrance fee.” Once we got our drink we were told to out “magic into it” by following the words that the maid cafe staff said while doing the hand motions of making a heart in the air. It was pretty amusing.
We were also lucky that some of the other patrons of the cafe had ordered a dance performance so we watched that. The people who pay for the staff to dance to a song are given a light stick so that they can pretend it’s like a little mini concert. The people who ordered the dance were both males. One an older man who was alone and also a younger man who was with his friend. That younger guy was dancing really intensely along with the maid and it was both interesting and almost pitiful. I guess to each his/her own though and you gotta do what you gotta do to release stress and survive in the world right?
Some guys at another table ordered a test that they were taking together. I have no idea what the test was about or what happened if they got things wrong or all correct but either way, interesting peek into the world of Akihabara, maid cafes, and the life of an otaku.
After the maid cafe we all walked back together to the area near the station and our class concluded. My friends and I decided to walk around the area more. It had gotten dark and the store lights were all glowing brightly. Since I have no interest and anime and manga and I didn’t want to go into the particular store that my friends were going into, I split off to go and find a bathroom. While wandering around after that trying to find them I found another friend who was looking for a retro game store and decided to tag along. Once he found the store I realized that I didn’t want to just stand outside so I went and bought the Snoopy donut from Mister Donut.
I got my donut and ate it outside the store as my friends shopped and then after went to meet off with the other students. We had all kind of just split off and then come back together multiple times. This next meet up was to go and grab dinner.
We settled on the beef bowl chain restaurant called Yoshinoya. It was so good! I got a regular gyuudon and added on a side of kimchi. So yummy and pretty reasonably priced. This was probably $5-$6.
After dinner we continued to walk around, went to a couple of arcades, and then decided to head home. I am glad that we took a field trip for this class as we were learning about all of these aspects of “Cool Japan” while in Japan. It would seem like a bit of a waste if we didn’t actually go and see it ourselves. It was also fun to be able to go on a class field trip which doesn’t really happen once you are past middle school.
All in all it was a good day after two previous good days. I am doing pretty well on the updating of the blog so far so hopefully I’ll have a post about something I did in November soon.
Thank you for reading!