Japan 5 - Akihabara – the city of cartoon sin.


It has been a couple of chocked-full days. Tomorrow we are headed to Hakone via train to stay in an authentic Ryoken. More on that when it happens. Apparently it is advised that you wear the supplied authentic kimono robe for the duration of your stay.

Today was mostly shopping and walking with trips to the electronics strip and anime-central Akihabara. A street filled with electronic vendors and teenage girls in provocative maid outfits touting restaurant visits. You go to the dining establishment and it is run by teenage maids in revealing outfits that wait on you hand and foot. You sing songs and play games with them while you eat. All this mixed in with huge superstores of pornographic manga and Sega video game pavilions filled with cigarette smoke.. At one point as I was ascending a seven-story flight of stairs I lost my footing oogling a not so fully clothed overly endowed cartoon character of a maid with her ass in my face looking coyly over shoulder. It felt dirty in a cartoon sort of way, and I almost broke my neck. Floors and floors of paperback books of newsprint manga containing illustrations of young girls in compromising positions, impaled with falic-shaped  tentacles and devices that would make a call-girl blush.

Six different DVDs blaring conflicting episodes of manga-based anime all at the same time – a clash of sound colour and flesh all at once – too much for western eyes to digest and comprehend all at the same time. It all seemed so lewd and somewhat in bad taste. What one would most otherwise consider an epicentre of pop cultutre seemingly took (for me) a turn to the darker side of life. I managed to locate a couple of sets of out of print card decks now unavailable in Canada. (the only english things I could find.

Daniela smartly decided to wait outside while I traversed this perverse cavalcade of teenage debauchery festooned with colour and a hyper-sexuality like I have never seen in a commercial setting before.

Fascinating on many levels.

I am obsessed with the vending machines here that contain a plethora of these characters and others – some that have a prominent following in the west and some I just know from Japanese role playing games. I fed many a machine since my stay began and will feed more before I leave. The characters in the photo attached to this post are an example of some I have already collected.

Yesterday we took a 20k bike tour across a good section of Tokyo. It was a bit of a haul but a great way to see a large section of the city. This city is massive. It seems to dwarf even what I have seen of NYC and makes Toronto look like a flea on the back of what is Tokyo. This place is just plain BIG. And it is as modern as hell with a huge sense or European flare. Shit’s expensive, but good. Anyone that grooves on a metropolitan lifestyle would like it here. They have it all and nothing seems arcane, old fashioned, or clouded by superstition like pockets of Beijing.

My gut is swollen with excellent food (and tonight Japanese beer) I have no idea how everyone stays so slim here – all we see are Japanese people eating deep fried goodness and swilling booze and beer like it is going out of style. No one eats on the street. There are no garbage cans anywhere. You eat in eating establishments or at home. No eating on the street. No jay-walking. No rule-breaking. No rushing, and lots of waiting in line without butting in front. No one hear acts entitled or superior in any way. Everyone knows their place. There are no slackers here – at least as far as I can see. Everyone is hard at work or hard at play. Everyone is on the ball and one step ahead of you when it comes to service or attentiveness.

Japan, if I want to try hard to complain is a little too westernized for us. I know it sounds snobbish but I hate US influence and dammit Japanese shit is way better that American shit. I am talking commercially. (I have not yet heard any Japanese local speak highly of the USA). Don’t tell. But Damn there is a lot of Western influence here. I like when the Japanese put there own spin on it sure, but I wish the US influence was not so strong – this is my only complaint so far, and it is a small one.

I could go on for hours tonight but I am out of beer and have been up for about 18 hours. We have to get up early and pack – then jump a train up north.

Derek Lowesfeature