Saturday, March 17, 2012

Akihabara Electric Town in Tokyo

I have to admit, I kinda farked up when it came to taking pictures in Akihabara.  One, it was raining a shit-tonne so it was hard to take a shot with one hand while holding an umbrella with the other.  (2) There were huge crowds and some of these Japanese folks are taller than you'd think.  (3) I'll get to the third reason shortly.

My goal on this particular Saturday:
- make it Tokyo without getting lost - CHECK!
- buy a DD-WRT hackable Linksys router (preferably used) - FAIL!
-make it back to base without getting lost - FAIL!

Ok, so Akihabara (official name is Akihabara Electric Town), is the official electronics "borough" of Tokyo. Imagine a whole mini-city that is filled with stores that range from your mom and pop electronic stores to your Fry's electronics, all crammed on the same street.  Notice the use of the word "imagine" as I don't have that many good pictures to share =p  

There's a few Fry's equivalents, but they're set up a little differently.  Instead of the huge square-footage that we've all grown accustomed to in Fry's, divide up each major department and stack it on top of one another.  For most large akihabara stores, the lower floors are dominated by cell phones, tablets, and their respective protective coverings.  Floors 2 and up (maybe up to floor 6-7 for some) are usually computer parts, laptops, displays, video gaming, movies, etc. 

So that is why I didn't take many pictures.  Pictures in an electronics store in Japan are essentially pictures in an electronics store in the US/anywhere.  

As for my search for a linksys router, I came up empty handed at the Fry's equivalents.  Apparently linksys doesn't have their hand in computer networking in Japan.

Ok, so when you're not in the large electronic chain stores, you're walking down the main street, right out of the train station, seen here.

Picture one out of two total for Akihabara.  Savor it =p

And on the street just adjacent to the train station is where you find the swap meet-looking area, where individual vendors sell their goods.  Most of the goods offered here are similar to what you'd find in a Radio Shack, more specifically the electronic component drawers that you probably haven't perused, hah.  You'll find things like soldering irons, resistors, switches, wiring, sensors/motors, etc.  It's basically all the type of nerd stuff I wish I had at home when I'm toying around with electronics.  What makes me wonder is how these vendors stay in business.  Most things are not high profit-margin type stuff, so I don't know how they pay their rent.  I didn't take any pics of an actual storefront because they all just kinda stared at me while I walked past.

And that's the end of the picture series of Akihabara.  Don't let my lack of pictures paint an unenjoyable or boring picture of this part of town.  The absence of my beautiful, artfully-captured stills (=p) were only secondary to the rain and to my goal of finding that damned linksys router.

Akihabara has undergone some change over the past decade or so, from what I understand.  It was mostly all PC/computer-centric, but with the decline of PCs and the ascent of mobile computing, a lot of the stores have shifted their focus and/or closed down.  Those that closed were replaced by anime-related stores.  I no care about those, so I didn't go into any of them.  It makes me wonder what'll happen to all the individual vendors that I pictured up above.

The Japanese found it appropriate to take our love of fat brick toast and turn them into goddamned cakes!

I find myself in a predicament on most Saturdays and Sundays with regards to food.  My local options: ramen, curry, sushi.  I know that Japanese people love soba and yakitori too, but shit, I run out of options when there are realistically only what, FIVE?!  Anyways, I found this ramen place, right out of the station.  I ordered a spicy miso ramen, which was pretty good.  The broth was excellent, very rich, which became more flavorful after I added in the puree'd garlic.  The bbq pork was avg.  As for the noodles, I'm guessing this part of Tokyo uses the lo-mein type of ramen, which I'm 2/3 not a fan of.  Overall not bad.  I'm totally a sucker for good broth.

Below you'll find MOCHICREAM, a combo of mochi and ice cream?  I don't even really like mochi, but damned if the displays didn't look tasty!  I ordered a green tea mochi donut-thingy and an caramel mochi (they ran out of the apple pie mochi's!).  The two were good.  But, still not a fan of mochi, haha.

Lastly, on my way back home I found this little Yakitori stand in one of the alleyways north of the train station.  If I recall, if you're heading towards the navy base on Blue st. from chuo station, it'll be one of the first alleys on your right side (it might be across from the TGIFridays.  Anyways, 70yen per each yakitori!  Super tasty, there were things like cow tongue, chicken hearts, and chicken tails among other assorted weird and normal snacks.

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