After sating my desire for all things kitchen related we head onto get our first glimpse of one of the ubiquitous sights in Tokyo – the neon jungle of Akihabara, AKA Electric town.
Akihabara is named after the fire-controlling god of a shrine built after the area was destroyed by a fire in 1869.
Akihabara gained the nickname Electric Town after World War II as it became a major shopping centre for household electronic goods and the post-war black market.
It’s a popular shopping district for video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.
Anime and manga shops abound and numerous ‘maid cafés’ are found everywhere.
Everywhere you turn are a plethora of skimpily clad, doe eyed manga dolls. Illustrating a curious sexual but cartoonish vision of womanhood.
Another feature of Japan is the proliferation of arcades with machines for grabbing all manner of fluffy toys and plastic trinkets.
While we associate them with children in the UK, we saw lots of adults putting money into the slots. It all links into the Japanese obsession with Kawaii.
Kawaii is all about cuteness. It’s a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture that features in everything from entertainment, clothing, food, toys to personal appearance, behaviour, and mannerisms.
I feel the blue fuzzy things might be making eyes at me . . . .
Around Akibara are huge colourful billboards and screens with male or female dancing and singing groups.
These are idols – media personalities in their teens and twenties who are considered particularly attractive or cute and who will regularly appear in the mass media .
Another common feature to be found dotted around are Maid cafés.
These curious, cutesy affairs are a type of cosplay restaurant. In these cafés, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters and mistresses in a private home, rather than as café patrons.
Below I manage to grab a snap of one of the many, very camera shy, maid cafe toutes.
All in all it’s a jaw dropping array of neon highrises, billboards, flashing lights and cartoonish overload.
There isn’t a surface that’s not smothered in cutesy cartoons, or garish advertising. It’s a sensory overload!
I’ll leave you with these colourful snaps of another common feature – vending machines.
The Japanese love to vend things! Whether it’s food, toys, plastic tat or even flying fish in oil – there are literally 1000s of machines on every street corner.
We’ll head back to Akihabara later to see it all lit up at night.