I took a trip to Japan. My trip to Tokyo started with a 14 hour flight from Washington to Narita Airport which got me there at dusk. Upon Arrival in Narita, I checked through immigration and customs rather quickly (as in less than 15mins). And just as quickly, I found myself riding the express train from Narita Airport to Tokyo. Now, how cool is that? Try that in any major U.S airport, and I’ll bet that by the time you’ve spent 30 mins, you’ll still be taking off your shoes at the TSA lines.
There wasn’t much to see along the way to Tokyo because it was dark, but I managed to catch a glimpse of a few towns, and by their own right, these towns deserved to be explored. However, once the train arrived in Tokyo, I began to scan through the countless number of glimmering lights through out the city, and soon enough, I realized I was inside a colossal city filled with an infinite number of activities.
To get a sense for the city, one must begin to get a glimpse for the world of a Japanese person living in Tokyo. To begin, they are respectful individuals who take pride in trading respect and showing humility. Their world is a mix of old and new. This world is also small but compact, and yet, it is organised and amazingly clean. Everything is simple and efficient while nothing is wasted. What is old and not working is replaced with modern technology, and what is old and working is kept alive with culture and tradition. Life is simple and easy while their society becomes more advance, faster and complex.
For someone of us who grew up in the 80’s, taking a leisurely stroll around Akihabara is like living in an anime fantasy. Akihabara is the electronic paradise of Tokyo…as though the whole city isn’t already an electronic mega plaza…which it is. Visually, Walking around Akihabara is a trippy experience. The first impression you get of Akihabara are the bright colors. The mixture of bright and red makes it feel as though you are lost in a dream for which you have a first hand experience of what is happening and not a reincarnation of your memories right after you wake up. Yes, I am really here, and I am not about to wake up to some sort of disappoint.
As you browse through Akihabara, you will find it hard to peel yourself away from one Otaku store to the next. These Otaku shops are largely anime stores that sell magazines, manga comics, videos and anime doll collections. Moving on, it takes a short time before you are stuck again browsing through all the Pachinko arcade. A Pachinko machine is a cross breed between a video game arcade and a casino slot machine, and it seems this is the main attraction in Akihabara. It is not hard to conceive the idea of being glued to a Pachinko machine for hours.
In between Otaku shops and Pachinko arcades are countless varieties of electronic shops located in tall buildings catering to special needs. It will literally require a months stay to visit every single store. After spending hours hopping from one building to the next, I found that it would be best to limit my experience to the street level. There was too much to see, and I had to spread my time across Tokyo in a few days.