My second full day in Tokyo was marked by awful weather. It started out decently in the morning when we went around the corner for ramen but by the time we got home, it had been pouring for most of the day.
The night before, I happened to come across McPho's (Upsilon) Facebook status stating that he was going to be in the area so I dropped him a note. The next day, after he had stashed his belongings at his hostel, we all met up in Shinjuku.
Whereas Akihabara is the district to go to for all electronic goods, the electronic store we went to in Shinjuku had something no Akihabara store had, a Toyota / Panasonic F-1 car in the middle of the first floor. There were a few Panasonic spokes models there taking photos of shoppers with some new Lumix and then giving out photo printouts. I tried getting Kevin to help me take a photo of the rear diffuser since you never get to see one so closely, but he refused.
Ten years ago, coming to Japan would have been an eye-opening experience in terms of all the gadgetry (that's why I always got excited about trips to Hong Kong. Near Japan-level gadgetry at more affordable prices). However with the web and blogs bringing press releases on every new product coming out of Japan to our fingertips, the shock value just isn't there anymore. So while there were many items not available stateside, I still wasn't as awestruck as I should have been.
After a visit to the Post Office to withdraw some money from their ATM, Kevin brought McPho and I to a long narrow alley behind Shinjuku Station designated for razing in the near future. In addition to being nicknamed Piss Alley (Shonben Yokocho) it is sometimes referred to as Omoide Yokocho / Memory Alley. A collection of small eateries lined both sides of the alley, however we were there for only one joint, a corner eel-shack near the middle of the alley. According to Kevin who was there sitting in the very same seat two years ago, the eel-shack (serves nothing but eel parts) has been around for more than 30 years. The locals were very lively and a welcoming bunch, I wonder what'll happen to this local community when the eatery ceases to exist. When I'm retired, hopefully I'll have some place with a similar vibe to go to every day.
Harajuku and the pink umbrealla
With full bellies, we made our way into the train station and boarded a train bound for Harajuku, famous for its Sundays when many teenagers engaged in cosplay gather in the area. While we did see a few cosplayers walking around, it was the middle of the week and I'm sure the rain prevented many of them from venturing out.
The rain by then was coming down harder than ever so when I passed a guy hawking umbrellas, I grabbed a pink one for around $3. Walking down Takeshita Dori, we passed by many interesting storefronts but the one that really caught my attention was Marion Crepes. By the time we departed for Akihabara, I had already wolfed down two of them.
We also stopped by an adidas store on the main road and were blown away by the products offered. Not sure if the designs were Asia specific but I saw plenty of great products, too bad everything there was so expensive. I'll have to take a look at the SoHo adidas store when I get back to see if they stock similar products.
We capped off the night by visiting the electronics district, Akihabara. Our first stop was related to gadgetry of a different sort. Down the street from the subway exit is a six-story porn store. Unlike it's seedy brethern in the states, the porn store was pretty well lit and the shoppers included many couples and well dressed businessmen with the occassional businesswoman walking the aisles. Any trip to Tokyo should include at least one stop at one of these megastores. The sheer volume of product was mind-numbing and the type of product was eye-opening.
The electronic stores we visited afterwards seemed much more tamed compared to our first stop, but the best stop of the night was a gaming store where I spent most of my time sucking at GT-5 Prologue.
Showed the following VW commercial to Kevin today, it was posted in an entry a year or so ago, so for those that haven't seen it, click here to see a modern hip-hop interpretation of the Singing in the Rain dance number.
And if you'd like to see Usher's take on it, check it out here.