And I am back in Tokyo! Took the shinkansen from Kyōto to Tokyo JR station from which I took a taxi to my hotel in Jingumae last night. Tokyo taxis are notoriously pricy, but in my opinion, somewhat comparable to the black cabs in London and I just couldn’t be bothered to take two other trains to Harajuku, and walk. With luggage to boot.

My first disappointment of the day was the rain. I was hoping to see young (mostly) trendy Tokyo-ites as well as cosplayers in the vicinity of Harajuku and Yoyogi-koen with it being a Sunday. I was also meeting up with a mate who gave an idea for checking out sakura at Yoyogi-koen which we had to cancel. Nevertheless, I realised a few things today – good things can still happen even when well-thought out plans are scuppered, and how a vast number of Tokyo districts can be covered in a short(ish) period of time as they may not take as long as I thought. Oh, the rain meant I bought my first ever clear umbrella![1]

After visiting Meiji-jingu, we headed to Harajuku for hirugohan at an okonomiyaki place recommended by Liza. It felt quite weird showing a Tokyo-ite how to get to the place (confirming the location with Google Earth and YouTube pre-visit was well worth the effort). Okonomiyaki is pretty much a Japanese pancake containing cabbage and an egg, with the other bits pretty much being whatever you want. I’d like to think of it as a Japanese murtabak, though. For 1200円, it was an all-you-can-eat affair plus one drink. I will be doing an actual post in the near future on the food I had in this trip, so watch this space!

I first knew Kohei-san when he was co-manning a takoyaki and yakisoba stall in Sheffield. We never got around to actually meet up, especially when I wanted to learn more about Japan and stuff. Ironically, our first meet was this morning in Tokyo and when we started talking about Arctic Monkeys and guitars over the last morsel of okonomiyaki, Kohei-san told me that the guitar stores in the university quarter of Ochanomizu[2] were open on Sundays. We took the Tokyo Metro from Meijijingumae to Ochanomizu and in 15 minutes, I was in guitar heaven.

The first shop we hit was BIG BOSS and man, I was already on the verge of tears on the ground floor. All manner of guitars were on the racks, and I began my look out for things worth getting here – ESP/Edwards/Grass Root and MiJ Fenders. I was also on the look out for other Japan-made brands, namely Bacchus – but these ones I could only find in the 2nd hand section. I was not too bothered if it was a second hand item, but for the Edwards series, it’d be great to get a J-Rock artist sig. I haven’t said anything about the price – they are cheap. Not in a 500円 sense but imagine a UK price tag minus the shipping/import tax malarkey kinda cheap. A James Hetfield LTD Snakebyte for a little under GBP700? Crazy! After hitting Ishibashi and a few other second shops, I just realised – was that IT? I swore that the TV programme with MAMIchan and her SCANDAL crew roaming Ochanomizu showed the street to be much longer. Hmm. Anyway, I was keeping a few items in view. A second visit on my own is required.

And guess what is close to Ochanomizu? Akihabara.

We were on a roll. A quick ride on the JR Sobu line brought us in the bowels of Yodobashi, Akiba’s megastore that has pretty much everything. The Sony RX100 Mk2 was there which was cheaper by a few ringgit than the one sold at YL, but my Fujifilm X20 was nowhere to be seen. Visited the floors for cameras, figures (not an impressive collection), toys and other gadgets. Being an Apple whor… I mean, user, I wasn’t too impressed with some of the other technology presented instore. All because these new stuff may not interface with what Apple gear I have. I also ended up extolling the virtues of Apple product to Kohei-san at Yodobashi, no commission received.

As luck would like it, on exiting Yodobashi we caught the tail end of a short raibu event of a very new 11-girl aidoru group called スルスキルズ「Surusukiruzu」[3]. The girls sounded the same as any group, but a few of them were chou kawaii… oh, hi MAMIch… *thwack!*

Walking along Chuo-dori meant seeing a street view I had seen a million times, may it be a National Geographic docu or Densha Otoko. I finally thought against the idea of going to the AKB48 CAFE with another mate, as Kohei-san said it’d be cool to check out a maido kissa[4].

Girls in maido outfits were aplenty handing out pamphlets (not all of which are related to cafes *koff*). Kohei-san spoke to a random maido and she then brought us over to the cafe she works in which was called どりーむきゃすと「Dorimukiyasuto」, like the SEGA console. The kissa hadn’t had the grand opening yet, which meant the pre-opening drinks prices were still cheap. The maido was called ‘Mercury’ and asked why she chose to be a one, she said that she was currently in cram school and thought it’d be a fun thing to do. It was a space-themed cafe and was somewhat sparsely decorated. After ordering our drinks, we were given 10-minutes to chat with ‘Mercury’. It was a bit weird at first but we all chatted about this being my first visit to Japan, her recent trip to Australia and what she wanted to do in college. Pretty normal conversation actually, and I wonder about the people who genuinely come to these kissas for the conversations. To everyone their own, I guess. We were then attended by ‘Jupiter’, the ‘leader’ of the maidos whom I called bo-su (boss) which has a different connotation[5], which she thankfully took it as a joke. I played an obligatory game in which I had to say a few wotagei phrases in time to the song they had playing in the cafe. I didn’t do too well but I got to take a Polaroid with her[6] as well.

We ended the day with a hot kamameshi meal at a friendly family-run eaterie in Ueno, after which it was time to call it a day. After the fun I had today, a more sedate adventure awaits tomorrow I guess.

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[1]These clear umbrellas are only available here in Japan, and are like 550円 each.
[2]From my understanding of basic nihon-go, Ochanomizu means ‘tea water’. Meiji University is quite close to the guitar shops.
[3]Through Skills – that’s what it is.
[4]Maid cafe. A kissa is merely a short form of kissaten, Japanese for cafe.
[5]Organised crime kind of connotation. :P
[6]It wasn’t free.