Monday, September 7, 2015

Japan Trip Day 1: Akihabara

First time in Japan! Wow!! Finally :) Before writing about my Japan experience, I will write about my flight experience last night. I regretted choosing Garuda Indonesia. The in-flight entertainment for Singapore-Jakarta was terrible. The screen was a press screen rather than a touch screen for its unresponsiveness and the video and audio options were terrible that it was as good as having no in-flight entertainment. Food was also sub-standard. I was shocked the plane was parked at the parking area instead of at the terminal. Luckily I had 2+ hours before the next flight or I would be very worried missing my flight to Tokyo. It was my first time transiting and what happened at the transfer desk was only for me to know the gate for my next flight would be.

The Jakarta-Tokyo flight was slightly better: it was really a touch screen and there were more choices for the in-flight entertainment. I was tired to I decided to try to sleep. I could not because the stewardess kept brushing against me when passing through the aisle! Jeez.. I did not know how many times that happened. Basically I did not have a peaceful sleep and once woken up, I decided to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. With 1 hour left to the movie, the video hung. Bleah... Again, breakfast was unmemorable.

Weather was great at Haneda and my first impression was better than Schipol airport. Haha.. I have to say that Changi is still better. The arrival journey at Haneda was very clean and efficient: a long hallway of travelators with toilets and drinking stations at the right side at regular interval. It is similar to Changi but it feels rather cramped without the departure gates on both sides. Immigration officer was friendly and helpful despite me missing out certain parts of the disembarkation card thanks to my sleepiness. The lady at JR pass exchange office spoke quite a good English and it made me feel positive about the next few days in Japan.

My friend and I took train to our hotel at Ikebukuro. I initially thought the train station was manageable and definitely cleaner than Paris'. I changed my mind after we reached Ikebukuro: there are so many lines (not only JR but also metro etc), so many exit gates (north, south, east, west, central), and so many exits. We were looking for C6 exit at the West side. I did not know how long it took us just to locate the West side and there were more than 20 C-exits. The advertisement of the hotel at JAPANiCAN is not truthful as it took us 10-15 minutes from the exit to walk to the hotel instead of 4-5 minutes.

As check-in time is only at 3pm, we went to Akihabara first. We ate curry for lunch and I was impressed that we ordered through a machine and pay using our Suica cards. Hmm.. if this is the case for most places, it seems that I will be able to survive even with zero knowledge of Japanese language. Lol. We dropped by to a Uniqlo and as autumn/winter is coming, summer clothes were on sale. Yay! I was eyeing on a JPY 1990 coat but only XL-size were available.Well, I still have 1 more week in Japan and many more Uniqlo stores to visit so I will keep an eye on that.

After Uniqlo, our otaku shopping began with Yodobashi before going to the various small stores in the area. Gundam models are damn cheap here and they feel like kids' toys instead of premium toys outside Japan. Another contrasting trend I notice is on second hand prize figurines. Nowadays, we can buy new prize figurines (instead of winning them through UFO catcher or ichiban kuji lottery) for about JPY 1600-1800 each. Who on earth will buy second hand prize figurines at JPY 8000 and above??? I can't even my unwanted prize figurines for $20 in Singapore leh!! Or is this a tourist trap tactic at Akiba??

I was so excited to find Kotobukiya and Animate stores. Kotobukiya store still has old Full Metal Alchemist Sculpture Arts statue!! Wow... Although price-wise, I can find a cheaper one on eBay haha.. There are some Free! books that I want but I can't remember if I already have them so I better check first. I tried not to buy anything yet since it is only the first day and I am sure to return to Akiba but I could not resist to buy a set of Haikyuu! folders that I had been trying to find as well as Break Time figures for Kise and Kasamatsu.

Honestly, I am not too excited with new figures as they are all selling at retail prices. For new figures, I rather order them online although the discount is usually offset by the shipping. At least I don't need to lug them in my luggage. I could not find any Digimon G.E.M that I missed out and I never saw Mandarake store. I better find the address and find the shop for next time. I am glad that I am not *that* into Gundam as there are so many interesting ones (i.e exclusive or limited) here. At Yellow Submarine, I saw a 9000 JPY ANA Gundam 1:48. If my luggage is still empty next week, I will definitely but that. Haha...

It has been an exciting and interesting day for me. I learn that most of the shops here have so many levels in one building. Sometimes, there are more than 1 stores in 1 building as different stores occupy different levels. As we go higher, the items tend to be more racy haha.. I know I should not come to Akiba with my family members. The R18 items are displayed very openly at the R18 levels. Heck, they even play porn DVD on the level selling the new and used porn DVDs. Okay, perhaps I should call it adult videos/AV instead of porn as what Japanese calls them. It makes my wonder why other countries are so particular about nudity etc when everything is so open in Japan and I don't think it corrupts or rots their society after all. One interesting observation is that I see more people at the adult sections of the animated characters than of the real humans. I can't understand why they enjoy cartoon characters more than real women. Oh ya, at the same R18 levels, they are also selling sex toys o_0 Hahaha.. Okay.. definitely no parents and no family members to come here.

On our way back, I saw Gundam cafe and AKB theatre side by side. I was too tired to look at them today. By the way, we are staying in Hotel New Star Ikebukuro. The location is pretty good as there are so many konbinis and eateries nearby. The hotel room itself is not as small as I expected. I think it is of normal size for a 2-3 star hotel although it may feel smaller as there is no clothes cupboard. But honestly, I still can live with the size. It is small but not inhumanely small. Same thing with the hotel. Aah and that automatic butt washer feels heavenly to ensure shitting experience a good one without wetting the floor. Lol..

So who says guys can't shop? We spent just 1 day at Akihabara leh!! Time to rest for our journey to Kyoto tomorrow ^^

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