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Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Akihabara: Lost in Trancelation

I have been lucky enough in my life to have traveled a fair bit, and never do I enjoy it as much as when I feel like I’ve been thrust into an entirely different world.  My passage through Akihabara definitely qualifies.  Beyond writing about my extraordinary hotel, I’d never really planned to write here about my (brief) time in Tokyo.  This piece on Akihabara, however, caught a specific portion of it rather well (there is more to it, of course, but the writer captures a central characteristic), and I just had to share it.  I’m going to quote you this bit:

Now we have some serious business to attend to. Kay wants to buy a waterproof DVD player that she can hang in her shower, so she leads us into one of the electronics stores. It’s like a giant carnival midway, a bombardment of flashing lights, posters, banners, screens, loudspeakers, and hucksters with microphones, creating sensory overload that reminds me of the slots section of a Las Vegas casino. The store has an advantage, though, in that its Japanese-sized patrons are only half the size and weight of American consumers. Thus, the aisles can be minimized, allowing less room for people and more floor space for flashing, screaming, blinking, booming, chanting, blaring audio-visual and computer-driven devices.

But it’s the sexual vibe that the author captures so well.  If you’re at all curious, check it out.

Photos from my 2004 visit.

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3 Comments

  1. silence dogood

    Wow. I thought I was a fairly open-minded person until about six minutes ago, when I got to the picture of the chick dressed like Julie Andrews. Although strangely, by the time I got to the transvestite dressed half of a nun, I wasn’t shocked anymore–I guess it’s just that there’s implicit irony in a man dressing up like ANY woman, whereas a substantial part of me wonders if Julie Andrews is wearing that outfit in earnest.

    The maid cafe thing was also kind of crazy. It’s like an emotional sort of bondage, from the description, and I wonder if in spite of the costuming, the men in the cafe aren’t actually the subs. From the description, it sounds like they’re the ones being restrained by chains of polite sexual tension.

    Crazy. I’d love to go and find out more, but it’s frankly creeping me out how much an attractive Japanese woman in her late 20s looks exactly like the Japanese girls in their early teens that I grew up with.

    (I hate that 14 year old girls dress like women in their mid-20s in this country, too, incidentally. I can’t tell how old a woman is by looking at her anymore, which has made me swear off of anyone under the age of 30 because it feels too much like dating a high school ssophomore otherwise).

  2. When I was in the military we had a problem with dependent daughters showing up in the NCO clubs; so the trick we used was to make sure we arranged to see their military ID card… you did not have to look close as the active-duty ID was vastly and clearly different than the dependent ID cards.

  3. MB

    Scott: still tan/yellow v. green, yes?

    ~

    Silence – I think being there might leave you with the feeling of “huh?” I didn’t go to any of the cafes like the one described, but I spent the better part of a day poking around (remember, this is otaku-central). Aside from the general wonderment at the objects for sale, the other feeling I came away with was “Really? That is what works for someone?” Not judgment or being creeped out, just . . . completely missing the appeal of many of the things I’d seen.

    Ah well. Great that a place like this exists, though.

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