Tokyo is so big that you can find different cities within it. Asakusa, Shibuya, Ginza, Shinjuku… and Akihabara. What in other cities of the world would be just names of districts, here they get a distinct level of complexity. The luxury of Ginza, the crazyness of Shibuya… and the freak of Akihabara. Do you want any anime comic? You’ll find it here. Any merchandising material of any rare anime series? You’ll find it here. Do you imagine what else you can find in Akihabara?
The narrow streets of Akihabara are full of people and lights, icons and colours in every facade. Here you can feel one of the typical Japanese traditions of business men. Yes, only men. Japanese culture is still male chauvinist and here you can see how men leave their offices late, then go playing videogames while drinking beers, then enjoy a maid bar and then… oups! Too late… they don’t go home where their wifes are waiting with a hot bath prepeared because there are no more trains available, so they take advantage of one of many capsule hotels.
It is surprising how Japanese men get attracted by teenagers behaving like small girls, sometimes talking like babies. Looks like mental ill behaviour for western people like us.
It was just when we left the train station that we found the first maid sponsoring a maid bar called Maidreamin. We had already read about it but we didn’t want to experience such a “tradition”. We disregarded the maid offer in purpose. It was enough to see that behaviour in every corner of every street. We didn’t need someone talking like a baby giving us sweets, cakes and other kind of services.
While walking through the streets of Akihabara we realized that shops where not only located in the base floor of every building. In fact, each floor in each building was a shop or part of a shop. So, in order to know better about Akihabara we had to enter the buildings, look for the stairs and discover what was behind every “Next floor” sign.
We went in a comic bookstore, merchandising shops, pinball rooms, videogames shops… and also sex shops. You may have read or seen in TV strange sexual tastes of Japanese men, like buying used and not cleaned linen goods or some strange substances that act as a substitute of girl saliva. In Akihabara you will find this and other products that you never imagined before they could exist.
If you travel with kids to Akihabara (it is also recommended), you just need to know that sex shops look like any other comic or cartoon shop. However, when you look better to the cartoons on the walls you realise that they may not be appropiate for under 18 people. In Japan, cartoons are consumed by all ages, so they are also adapted to different tastes. Take a closer look to the cartoons in the above photo.
We ended the day having dinner in a restaurant with views on the main street of Akihabara. Walking there at night is just a show and of course it is a must in any travel to Tokyo. If you come from a western society you will be shocked many times in few minutes, but if you like discovering other cultures and have an open mind, this will be one of the best nights in your stay in the most crowded metropolis of the planet Earth.