Gunna Walk Down To, Electric Avenue

So I’ll start out today’s post with some more short bits of info on Japanese culture as I’ve experienced it in the last week. First, sandals, people love’em. I’m working with three different pairs myself at the moment: one for walking outside, one for when I get inside, and one for the bathroom–serious business. Two, Japanese colleges are my kind of place because they have hot water boiling at every corner. In the Caf alone there were upwards to 10 or so scattered about in the surrounding area ready to refill a tea glass or add water to a cup of Ramen. Thirdly, restaurants are sweet here because you get to sit on the ground and hang out, but at the same time service is extremely slow in the “We are done with our food and need a check” period which can be quite frustrating. Now, I’ll add others as we move through this of course.

Today I got a song stuck in my head because this country is so damn full of Anime Cuteness I just cannot control myself and have already conformed to not only the classic Japanese “Peace Sign” pose, but have succumbed to a growing fondness for all things cute, high pitched, and large eyed. Also today, and appropriate to my current musical and animated dilemma, we made a 45 minute walk from Bunkyo down to Akihabara–Electric City, the Anime capital of the world. I know it doesn’t seem like a huge decision, but if you have ever thought about the phrase, “Sometimes getting there is half the fun” then you will agree that when faced with the vital question “how” our decision was imperative. The choice to walk gave us sore feet, sore legs, and an unparalleled chance to view a large portion of Tokyo unencumbered by the need to find the correct bus or subway stop. On our way to Akihabara we ran into a small souvenir shop outside of a local Shrine. It turned out that this shrine happened to be the location of The Festival of Kanda Matsuri, one of Tokyo’s three most famous festivals held once every odd year. We just happen to show up as it started! Furious shutter clicking from hundreds of cameras rang out amidst a sea of pipes, drums, and loud chanting as men and women dressed from the Heian Period escorted mini shrines about the streets. It was truly a lucky find that we could have only gotten a chance to see while walking. Now that we were feeling energized by our good luck we headed down the sunny road to Akihabara.

Festival

Festival

Imagine about 50 Best Buy Stores 100 pawn shops worth of electronics. Now imagine someone puked all these gadgets across several square miles. Add in every Japanese Anime and every Asian porn title known to man along with a dash of random eateries–presto, Akihabara, the Electric City. Truthfully, this place was intense. Electronics of every imaginable shape, size, and brand overflowed into the streets from the incountable number of vendors along the main road. Among my favorites was a Six story (if I remember correctly) video game store that specialized in old titles. I played games like Megaman One for regular Nintendo, a game I grew up playing wide-eyed in my childhood friend’s basement. Rack after rack of N64, Super Nintendo, and yes, even Sega Genesis and Dreamcast games lined each tiny floor along with the occasional Mario statue–it was awesome. We also managed to find a duty free shop on the 5th floor of one of the stores that had every Japanese suveneire you can think of (yes, even and I ❤ Japan one, Care). The whole experience in Akihabara gave our group a chance to not only see one of the most busy centers of this great city, but also exercise our own navigation skills as we made our way through the day since Steve was away in meetings all day. We were on our own and I know that I personally loved being the group’s navigator, unless I were to make a mistake, then it would be bad. Moving on…

Our next stop was Ueno Park, a giant park district located north of Akihabara and east of Bunkyo. In a remarkable contrast to its nearest neighbor, Ueno boasted a multitude of classic Buddhist and Shinto shrines in addition to various museums and an overall peaceful atmosphere. After stopping by the lake for a few pictures, a small shrine for a breather, and a vending machine for my Mountain Dew, we made our second supremely lucky find of the day, A giant Flee market Awwwwwe yeah! First stop, tea pots, cups, and chopsticks of every size and shape! As lovely as they all were, I had to keep my eyes on the long term of the trip and force myself to save money. What I was able to spent a bit of cash on though was a booth at the front of the market which consisted of a woman serving a dozen or so men Sake like it was going out of style. 100 Yen bought us all unlimited tasting and 5-6 mini shots of various flavors later I made my first Sake purchase. Being the incredibly manly-man that I am I opted for a tangerine flavored one as opposed to the dryer, stronger tasting version.

As fun as the market was for us, we were all dead tired and had to start thinking of heading for home. Our last stop on the way out of the park (well, besides the amazing pikachu statue at the kids park) was a monument of an eternal flame brought from the rubble of Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. Moving? Absolutely. The monument consisted of a simple gray, stone structure centered on which was a stone dove of peace with a hollow glass body holding within it a small flickering ember. Adorning the monument were rope after rope of tiny paper cranes made to in remembrance for the horrible loss of life that occurred when that bomb was dropped. The description of the monument is in the picture below.

Memorial Note

Memorial Note

Stone Dove and Paper Cranes

Stone Dove and Paper Cranes

With our bodies aching and our minds full of another crazy day and a bit of Sake we made our way back to the dorm thus successfully making it a full day without getting lost once even though we were all alone in such a strange and giant city.

A few quick stats before I let you all go today:

New foods tried today: Seven

Miles walked today: Upwards to 10 kilometers

Until Tomorrow,

~Pat

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2 Responses to “Gunna Walk Down To, Electric Avenue”

  1. Mumf Says:

    Hey Pat,
    Love all your pics, you look and sound like you’re having a great time! Love the one of the roller coaster in the middle of the city! And I was impressed by the one in the middle of MOA!
    Seven new foods….good for you, (let us know if you run into any cobra on the menu…ha, ha) How much Japanese have you learned, besides yen and sushi…? You’re doing a great job blogging…feel like we’re on the trip with you! Love you and praying for a spectacular and safe trip.

  2. Auntie Shell Says:

    Wow…that video was funny and painful all at once!!!!!

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