Joel has covered the morning so I will just add some details on Akihabara.
Akihabara was like a multi block sized mix-mash of computer fair, swap meet, Jay Car, manga, games and maids. We started walking down some narrow alleys between stalls, some had new GPS units, and UHF radios, there were a wide variety of antennas and cables, lots of circuity components such as capacitors, LEDs, ICs and project boxes. I found stores selling replacement valves for amplifiers and old radios alongside big chain outlets selling everything from air conditioners, TVs to rice cookers.
In between these stores they have game plazas, these are big centres that on ground floor have lots of different games of skill to win Manga and Anime related merchandise. Things such as figurines, plush toys, towels, etc, but some even had things like pretzels. The games were mostly the 2 button crane type we are familiar with, although often using a different technique. So instead of picking something up you move a rod to push a button and slide something out.
Above these skill games are big banks of arcade style games, these are the serious sit down with a joystick and button pad type. The two main types I saw were the 1 on 1 street fighter style, and the Galaga space ship style, although I didn’t go to far in. The noise level was deafening, and most of the machines had ashtrays as smoking is allowed, so the smell was pretty bad.
I spent most of my time wondering into the different shops to see the types of cameras on display (Sony is finally releasing a MSPD / SDHC one), what souvenirs were available and other odd things were on sale. There was an interesting weapons store that sold all types of Tasers and pellet guns. Stuff you would never see in Australia (except maybe on Border Security as it is confiscated).
For lunch I tried a small store that specialised in Beef. Like our Ramen earlier in our trip at Machida you ordered by using a vending machine that gave out tickets. I ordered a combination that started with a nice bowl of salad, a bowl of corm soup and finally a hot plate that had small pieces of beef surrounding some rice. The beef was uncooked and you cooked it yourself on the sizzling plate. Very tasty and it had a nice infusion of flavours that I believe came from marinating the meat.
I did end up purchasing a Kyocera (thought they just made printers) ceramic knife here, as they are much cheaper than Aus and I’ve been wanting to try one for a while. This ended up causing me some hilarity after the long flight and we were back at the Gold Coast. We wanted to visit the Jet Star lounge we had pre-paid for but it was on the other side of security screening. We still had 2 hours until check-in opened so we still had out checked luggage with us. Not thinking about it we unloaded all our gear, took our laptops out of bags and placed on trays, walked through machines and had the internal YES when you don’t set of the metal detector. I get though ready to go on and the security guard says “Sir is this your bag?”… “It has a giant knife in it”, whoops.
Both Joel and I had all our non carry-on items in the bags (pocket knives, kitchen knives, scissors, etc), which of course are a big no-no in the security area. We had to go back, repackage our bags and wait in the main lobby until check-in opened for our flight. Luckily there was WiFi so Joel could write his post, but my laptop’s WiFi played up again.
The flight back was OK and I got some partial sleep but not enough to make up for only 5 hours the night before (a GPS tracker problem that kept taking longer then expected. I’d tagged the photos without checking, and it placed quite a few of our Tokyo photos in the East China Sea. Once again problems with GPS in cities)
Back home now and need to clean-up the rest of my photos, unpack all my bags, organise souvenirs, etc.
It has been a great trip, seeing some amazing sights and visiting interesting places.