Greetings from Japan

Electric City Exit

Oi,

Greeting from Nihon (Nippon, whichever you like),”Land of the Rising Sun.” (As a completely unrelated sidenote, I have just discovered that Shift + 2 on a Japanese keyboard is “, now I no longer need to type ` twice.) This is Kurier, former-OST reviewer and author of the Otaku Instrumentality Project NHRV-linked blog. I have access to a computer here in Saitama City, Japan (once called Omiya city, near Tokyo) and I`ve decided to hijack the NHRV`s blog.

Why? Boredom. Which is a pretty bad reason to post, so I apologize for that now.

The opening image is the view to your right after you exit the Electric City Exit at Akihabara Station. Akihabara is known as the Electric City because it deals with nearly 10% of all the electronics sold in Japan are sold here. Akihabara (which from here on out will be shortened to Akiba, the casual nickname for Akihabara) is famous among Japanese animation fans like ourselves because in recent years it have bloomed into a hot spot for everything anime related (as well as video game related, with at least 50% of those video games being based on anime/manga themselves). Straight out of the gate of Akiba Station, you run into Gamerz (store front for Broccoli and anything Moe, I compare it to what General Products was for Gainax); further down the main street are Animate (an all-purpose anime store) and Toranoana (a doujin-specific store). Almost every shop in between these major high-rise stores deal in at least some anime-/manga-related products.

Akiba is the best place in Tokyo to find the newest in technology (for example, while I was in Akiba on two different occassions, two new cell phones were being released). However, Akiba is also a greet place to find used technology as well. Before I continue, I must stress that “used” in Japan is not like the “used” in America. Used goods in Japan are generally all in top-notch condition and could pass off a new (complete with shrink wrap).

The problem is that not many travelers know where to look to find stores that deal in used goods (other than the two Traders located on the main street in Electric City). The saying goes “The further away from the main street you get, the less English is spoken and the best the deals are.” This statement is very true, as I found almost all of my best finds in a small shop several blocks away from Akiba Station.

The name of this shop is Super Potatoe. Super Potatoe deals in Used Games, with a selection that rivals eBay. Every console from the Famicom (and before that even) to the PS2 (too early for the PS3 to start showing up, although you can find used PS3 games at Traders) can be found here and a wide selection of games for each as well. I picked up a total of 21 PS and PS2 games from Super Potatoe for less that 150 dollars. Near this gamer`s mecca is a lesser known Traders, with a selection much better than the Traders that deals with games on the main street (this Traders was the only place I found a copy of Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon).

While anime DVDs are every where in Akiba, they will cost you an arm and a leg (maybe your first born, depending on if you want the limited edition box or not), Akiba`s selection of anime merchandise more than makes up for it. Figurines, trading cards, models, pencils boards, posters, t-shirts, sandals, lighters, condoms, etc. can all be found sporting your favorite anime character (that is, if the character isn`t too old or unpopular). In my opinion, the best places to shop for these things are Animate, Gamerz and the shopping complex across from the Electric City Exit which name escapes me at the moment (easy to spot with its window display, which is currently an assortment of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff).

Gamerz is the easiest place to find the newest manga, OSTs and DVDs. And as I have stated before, it is the best place to find moe-related items. Animate is currently sporting a very impressive assortment of Evangelion items (I purchased a card holder and a cellphone privacy screen here), an usually carries a wide selection of merchandise for the most popular shows (two floors are dedicated to merchandise for shows like Naruto, Bleach, Evangelion, and Haruhi). The shop-which-name-I-have-forgotten deals mainly in figures and models, with a selection that would make Souichiro Tanaka from Genshiken weep for joy. All of these stores are a most see for anyone traveling to Akiba for anime-related reasons.

I`ve been sitting cross-legged for much too long, I hope I can still stand up.

Sincerely,

Kurier (I wish I had an awesome emoticon like Kuma)

2 Responses to “Greetings from Japan”

  1. The rule of thumb that you mentioned in terms of avoiding the tourist traps to get the best prices is sound advice, and really applies to anywhere traveled. Though granted, I’ve heard recently that Akiba became a gigantic tourist trap overall – I dunno, but then again there’s always that one place where you can get a sweet deal. BTW, I saw a picture of Akiba once where a monorail or train goes between the legs of a huge statue of some anime character. Is that true or photoshopped? Anyway, have fun for the remainder of your trip.

  2. I am going to say that that a photoshop, mainly because I would have saught out something like that with even the hint of it being real.

    One place I forgot to mention is the Tokyo Anime Center located in the big building if you take the exit opposite of the Electric City Exit. While it is not a very big attraction, it offers a nice shop and an interesting look at which ever anime series are on display at the time. A large screen provides previews for upcoming movies and series. There is a theatre nearby (down the hallway), but nothing I was interested in was showing.

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