My next stop in Japan was Akihabara.
Akihabara, also known as Electric Town, was said to be originally known as a hot spot for buying electronics. Now it is also an awesome place to find all things Anime and Manga. The performance theatre for AKB48, a SUPER popular J Pop group, is also located here.
After leaving the Yamanote line train station, we followed the crowd to the main street and just walked down one side until the crowd and good stores thinned out. Then we crossed and walked back up the other side. It sounds like something that wouldn’t take long but there were so many fun stores, arcades and places to eat along the way, it literally took hours.
We stumbled across 2 places that I had seen online but that I wasn’t really looking for. The Gachapon store and Pasela Resorts.
Gachapon is basically the deluxe ‘Gucci’ version of the American 25 cent vending machines. It is called Gachapon based on the noise the ball makes as it falls out of the machine. The price of each one ranges from 100 to 200 yen, which is $1 to $2 US dollars. It may seem like a lot but the items in these machines are not your average, by any means.
Thank goodness I can read Katakana or I may have walked right past the side street the store was on. It had a good amount of people in it. Foreigners and also natives of Japan. It was hard to snap pics without someone in the background. It had wall to wall Gachapon machines. Everyone had their change in their hands, happily moving from one machine to the next. The machines have themes, so you can pick the theme that you liked, then hope you get the character based on that particular theme that you wanted. I counted five differently themed Hello Kitty machines, a LINE character machine, two Rilakkuma machines and then there were also various other anime etc (each show had it’s own one).
I ended up with 10 balls as my total count when I left. Everything was so CUTE! I got cell phone charms, a coin purse, a small Rilakkuma cell phone sized purse (yes…a purse), a Hello Kitty miniature fan and assorted charms to hang on my handbags. Handbag charms in Japan are a HUGE craze. It is not uncommon to see girls and women on the street with teddy tears etc hanging from their bags. This is also true with cell phone charms.
Pasela Resort’s concept is hotel themed in appearance but it’s actually place you can go for karaoke and is also well known for it’s honey toast. I walked right past it at first , then did a double take when I saw their food and honey toast display in the window. Food displays are also huge in Japan. It’s a good concept. Many places I ate at were because I could see exactly what the food would look like and the amount that would be served before I went into the restaurant.
In my ‘I’m-finally-gonna-eat-honey-toast’ bliss, I’d totally forgotten about the karaoke and was a little confused when the girl at the front desk gave me a leather envelope that had my ‘room’ number in it. We took the elevator to the 7th floor. There were many rooms and when I found 705 and opened the door, I was in shock. It was hella nice! Leather sectional seat, tv, sound system, AC, air purifier for smokers, chandelier, microphone etc. It was fully loaded. You could also place your food order through the tv or on the room phone.
The room was ‘free’ for an hour. Over that, I would’ve had to pay extra besides the cost of the food so we just had lunch and honey toast of course! The honey toast was good but not something I’d want to eat all the time. It was huge and would’ve been wasted if I had to eat it alone. There’s no way I could have finished it by myself.
I’ve ‘seen’ Akihabara in many different anime so I felt like I’d been there before. Japanese anime tends to use real locations of places in Japan in their illustrations. However, seeing it in person as opposed to animations of it was incredible. It is another place I would definitely recommend to anyone traveling to Tokyo.