Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Akihabara
By: John Fragglepuss Evans
I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit.
Akihabara, or Akiba as it is locally known
Simply put, Akiba is the anime capital of the world. It has anything you can imagine in terms of anime, manga, and Japanese-geek culture. Full buildings covered in anime advertisements. Songs of popular anime playing in the background of everywhere you go. There’s no way to prepare for the feeling of leaving the Akihabara train station and being immediately surrounded by everything anime!
When you’re shopping in Akiba, be sure to visit all the levels of each building. A lot of the buildings contain a different store on each level, so you never know what you’ll find. It feels like the nerdiest treasure hunt you’ll ever be a part of. It will be tempting to spend your entire trip searching the buildings of Akiba for the best goods, but I remind you there is much to do in Japan. You can’t spend ALL your time in one location.
Gatchapon are capsule machines that cost between 100-400 yen and contain various trinkets. You can find them for almost any fandom; whether you are searching for an anime, an animal, or even underwear for your water bottle. The name Gatchapon comes from the sound made when turning the dial to get your prize.
Crane games are next level in Akiba, with prizes ranging from stuffed toys to a six pack of Red Bull. Some buildings contain levels that are entirely comprised of crane games.
Video games are all over, from a SEGA building full of playable games to a store hidden down an alley dedicated to old video games, which had a copy of Wild Guns for Super Famicom on sale for $800! The arcades are more impressive than anything I have ever seen, with high tech fishing games and technology-infused card gaming. Dancing arcades are peppered throughout the area as well as the classic taiko arcade.
When you need a break from the geek, I recommend visiting the Kanda Shrine, a close by Shinto shrine. It is a beautiful, peaceful area to visit and has several ties to anime culture. Not only is it close to Akiba, but “Love Live!” used it in their anime. The shrine administrators have recognized the anime relevance of the area and adopted the character Nozomi Tojo of “Love Live!” as their official mascot. When you visit take some time to look at the votive tablets at this shrine. You’ll notice many of them contain beautiful artwork.
If you are an otaku, Akiba is a must-see location. Even if you do not enjoy anime, it is worth a visit to experience this large part of Japanese culture. While you’re there, stop by Mister Donut. Any donut will be delicious, especially accompanied by a melon soda.