Woke up this morning around 7:30AM. Apparently my weird “sleep from 6AM to 1PM” lifestyle made it really easy to adjust to Tokyo time. I don’t think I’m jetlagged, but who knows. I started off the day by trying to get free breakfast at the Executive International Club here in the hotel, which I knew I wasn’t entitled to since I’m paying Expedia rates on the hotel rather than normal expensive-as-balls rates. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway, but they actually checked with the front desk and I was denied my free food. Instead I went to the nearby conbini and got a sandwich, tuna onigiri, and some cafe au lait. All the old favorites. All that was missing is one of the weird Japanese sandwiches, like a yakisoba pizza roll sandwich, composed of at least 4 different types of carbs. I have time though.
This is going to sound so majorly dorky, but I was trying to figure out what I should do my first full day in Japan, and ended up wasting a lot of time at the hotel and then finally going to Akihabara. There wasn’t really anything I was going there for inparticular, but it’s close and seemed like something to do. So cut me some slack! The big plaza area outside of the station, which is what the picture to the right here is of, was under construction when I was here in the Fall of 04. I saw it mostly done last summer, but now it’s in full force. Seems like a pretty sweet place, with stores and some other stuff. A big open plaza/concrete park kind of area, which seems a lot less crowded than a lot of places here in Tokyo. But anyway, I had lunch at the Edo Sushi place in the department store connected to the station, that I go to every once in a while. It’s cheap and good, which is probably why I go there. I had so much sushi for less than 10 bucks; it would have cost at least three times that much back in Bloomington, and the quality isn’t even comparable. I had some salmon for lunch here that pretty much melts in your mouth.
I went to like two or three different arcades trying to find the Mario Kart game, but no luck yet. I went to a few stores, including the Liberty store that has sweet Kamen Rider stuff. Spent more money than I planned on, just on stupid little things that I tend to accumulate randomly here in Japan. The weirdest thing I noticed today was how big the whole maid and “moe~” (萌え~) stuff has gotten. I don’t even remember ever seeing stuff like this last year. Moe~, to the best of my understanding, is the way that hardcore anime and Akihabara nerds (Akiba-kei, アキバ系) talk about those anime porn girls. Or something like that. Theres also a lot of products that have either Moe or Akiba-Kei on it, I guess it’s becoming like a trend in itself. They had like shirts, hats, coffee mugs, buttons, and even stuffed animals that look like the 2ch ascii art cats. I have a feeling the whole Densha Otoko fad Japan had last fall is partially to blame for this.
The whole maid thing is even weirder though. This started a while back, with the maid cafes. I remember once or twice trying to find these places, and I never did. They were like secret or something. The whole deal is, you go into a coffee shop where all the girls are dressed like maids, they call you “master” and stuff like that. Nothing really sex related at all, it’s just for the Akiba-kei guys who get off on girls who act like they’re 5 and/or are from an anime. At some point between last summer and now, the maid fad got even worse in Akihabara, because just walking around the street, a lot of places (at least 6 I saw in one stroll down the main street) now use girls in maid outfits to hand out flyers, invite people into the shops, etc. They’re not exactly French maid outfits, and they’re not really revealing or anything. Again, the Akiba-kei guys love this. There are apparently more Maid Cafes all over the place, and I found one today somewhat inadvertently. I was browsing around Don Quihote, this multi-level department store that pretty much sells just random stuff, and I went up to like the 7th floor. Only instead of the usual random DonQui products like oversized sombreros and cheap neck ties, they had a Maid Cosplay store. An entire little area selling all sex toys, videos, and of course hundreds of maid outfits for a few hundred bucks a pop. You would think that guys buy these for their girlfriends, but something tells me that they’re instead either wearing them themselves or putting them on their life-size blow up dolls at home. Here’s a pic I took, super secretly:
The rest of the floor was arcade machines where you can win maid-related prizes, complete with 2 female attendants dressed in maid outfits, and a huge Maid Cafe that reminded me of a theme park ride because it was walled off from the rest of the floor. There were two creepy chicks dressed as gothic maids outside of the cafe, trying to get people to come in, and one of them was probably the ugliest Japanese girl I have seen in a costume ever. I wish I could have gotten a picture, but I was afraid if I did she’d blow fire on me or something. But either way, the whole maid thing has gotten more abundant and it’s started to weird me out. I have no problem walking down the street and seeing nerds drool over anime porn and creepy model kits of the girls from Evangelion, but something about the whole maid thing just creeps me out. Maybe it was just the super ugly maid that did it to me.
After that, I came back to Shinjuku and did some browsing in the areas around the station, which are huge to boot. I’m going to hit up the department stores and like Takashimaya Times Square soon, maybe tomorrow. For the rest of the night I think I’m going to relax and make up a tentative schedule of when and where I’m going and doing stuff for my work assignments. On a closing note for this day, I would like to say that writing three long travel blogs in a single night is difficult and taxing, overshadowed only by the physical exhaustion I felt when I got back to the hotel a few hours ago to write these entries. They always say that you use totally different muscles when you’re in Japan, which may be true, but I think it’s just because you do so much damn walking around this country. Compared to life in Bloomington for the past year or two where I drove almost anywhere, my body just aches as if I ran a marathon. Well, maybe not that bad, but I’m tired.
And since I now see how much text I’ve written in these three entries, I’m thinking of not doing complete summaries of what I do here; maybe I’ll just pick one interesting thing a day and talk about that.