A trip to Tokyo
“ I’m going to Tokyo with Audrey on the 15th of November, “ our son, Andrew, informed us.
“Audrey wants to visit the Akihabara as she is an ardent fan of Anime.”
Having heard of anime, but without the slightest notion of the where about of Akihabara, I decided to Google –searched the place. According to Wikipedia, Akihabara is a common name for the area around the Akihabara Station in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. In the 1930s the place specialised in household electric products and came to be known as ‘Electric Town’. In the 1980s when household electronics began to lose their appeal Akihabara began to focus on computers and this brought in a new type of consumers: otaku. Otaku roughly translated means ‘fanboy’ or ‘fangirl’ and generally refers to one who is passionate about anime or manga. Akihabara began to cater to the needs of the otaku and came to be known world -wide as a centre for otaku culture.
Below is an account of the trip to Akihabara as told by Andrew.
At Changi Airport
|At Changi Airport|
The long and much awaited trip to Akihabara had finally arrived and we waited patiently for the flight to Tokyo Narita Airport.
|In the hotel room.|
We took a train from Narita to Akihabara and after some inquiry managed to locate our hotel which was located along a side street near Akihabara station. Although the hotel was small it was neat and clean and conveniently located within walking distance of the many stores selling anime books, toys and other paraphernalia .
The next morning dawned bright and sunny without a hint of a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day to take in the sights and sounds of the Akihabara and for Audrey to do her shopping.
|A blue sky above Akihabara district|
The Akihabara is designed to create an atmosphere as close as possible to the game and anime worlds which can attract the otaku. The streets of Akihabara are dominated with anime and manga icons and cosplayers can be seen lining the streets to hand advertising leaflets to prospective customers.
|'What shall I get???"|
Above, Audrey in one of the stores selling a wide range of anime goods. She is highly focused on the merchandise on display
|Posing outside one of the shopping malls|
|Audrey and her friend strolling along the streets of Akihabara|
|Audrey with her friend|
Audrey had made prior arrangement to meet a friend from Singapore who was also in Tokyo with her dad.
|Audrey and her friend at the gachapon|
They were highly entertained by the 'gachapon or gashapon' , a vending machine that randomly dispenses capsule toys. Adults and children alike are attracted to the excitement of not knowing what toys they will get until the capsule is opened.
|The interior of an 'Owl Cafe'|
|Giving the owl a gentle pat on the head|
We visited an 'Owl Cafe' ( a new trend in Japan) , where we saw a variety of owls perching on bars. The dimly-lit room with plants and soft music playing in the background provided a conducive environment for the nocturnal birds. Customers are able to interact with the owls and are allowed to pat the owl's head.
Mt. Fuji and Hakone
On the second day we joined a local tour to Mt Fuji and Hakone district.
As the coach made its way toward Hakone we took in the breath-taking view of the Japanese countryside.
When we arrived at the rest area we noticed the place was already packed with tourist buses and tourists were milling about the place.
We were all excited when we caught a glimpse of the iconic Mt. Fuji from our coach.
As we approached Mt Fuji a veil of clouds lifted to reveal her grandeur.
Blessed with a wonderful natural environment,spectacular scenery and abundance of hot springs Hakone is a major attractions in Japan.
We went on a 15 minutes boat cruise on the placid water of Lake Ashi. The cruise offered stunning vistas of Mt. Fuji, Mt. Komagatake and other peaks in the distance.
The last item of our tour was the Hakone Ropeway. This cable car service operates at one minute interval and on a clear day the seven minute journey to the summit of Mount Komagatake allows visitors to take the spectacular view of the crystal-clear, blue water of Lake Ashi and the grandeur of Mt. Fuji.
|A bird's-eye view of Lake Ashi|
As the cable car made its way to the summit we got a bird's-eye view of the scenic Lake Ashi and the surrounding countryside.
|At the summit of Mt. Komagatake|
|Audrey with her parka and face mask posing in front of the cable car station..|
However, when we reached the summit of Komagatake it was windy and misty, and so we hurriedly zipped up our parkas and Audrey donned her face mask to protect ourselves from the cold, biting wind. In the distance Mount Fuji was shrouded in clouds and mist and we felt slightly disappointed at not being able to take in its beauty.
The next day we visited the Shibuya shopping district. Shibuya is said to be the liveliest shopping neighbourhood in Tokyo and many of the department stores target young female shoppers. A visit to Shibuya is not complete without taking a walk across the Shibuya Crossing. When the lights turn red at this junction, they turn simultaneously, and pedestrians can be seen walking in every direction.
Above video shows pedestrians crossing the Shibuya Intersection from five directions.
|Soshen Book Tower|
|The interior of Soshen Book Tower|
On the morning of the last day of our trip, we visited Soshen Book Tower which was just a stone's throw from our hotel. It was 7 or 8 floors of books, books and more books, covering topics from photography to trains, study guides to planes........but all was in Japanese! Audrey thought her search was in vain until she came across a shelf stacked with books on anime art. She actually found some of the artwork that she was looking for.
Below are some of the books Audrey bought from Soshen Art Tower and her anime art collection.
It's time to bid sayonara to Tokyo.
Having a meal at Narita Airport before flying home. Of course, you have to take a snap of the food first.
|Ethan having an enjoyable time at the airport while waiting|
Audrey's mum and her younger brother, Ethan, were at the Changi Airport to welcome her home.
|Audrey and her friend dressed as an anime character in Kiki's Delivery Service|
A few days after her trip to Tokyo, with memories of her Akihabara experience still fresh in her mind, Audrey and her friend attended an anime festival in Singapore.
Listen to Kiki's Delivery Service soundtrack on Youtube.