Monday, October 7, 2013

TOKYO / Day Three / Ueno & Akihabara

Day three was essentially an exploration of Taito ward. The second half of the day we trekked Ueno Park, Yanaka Cemetery, and Akihabara (Electric Town), all of which are within blocks of each other.

Ueno park was nice, manicured, and dotted with museums and napping men (?), but we didn't spend too much time here. Instead we set off in search of a gallery Jaimes wanted to check out (but was unfortunately closed) and found ourselves on the grounds of a beautifully serene temple and then an expansive cemetery (Yanaka).

If you're thinking what I'm thinking, we're destined to be best friends
Squishy alien people
Closed :(
Can you sense how quiet it was here through these photos?

We were in for a complete 180 when we stepped off the train at Akihabara (it was too miserably hot to walk). The neon lights, the billboards, the slew of people, and the overwhelming Akihabara soundtrack: arcade music and gaming sound effects, squeaky baby voices of lolitas handing out flyers, the traffic, the tourists - it hit us like a wall. Our first stop was the Pop Life department store. We had heard so much about its seven floors of adult merchandise, so we went to see this slice of Japanese kink for ourselves. Turns out the term "department store" was a touch misleading - its close quarters made for some forced intimacy with shoppers looking at lacy underwear and other things. Awkward? Maybe. The experience was a bit surreal, only because it seemed completely normal to be there. Nothing like the shady, dim-lit shops we know of back home. Everything you could imagine and perhaps some things you could never imagine (eek). Unfortunately no photos allowed, but I did manage to snap a picture of the "Foxy Pocket Toyfriend" - gold!

The wall of people waiting for the light to change
As the flood gates open - organized chaos?

Neither of us are really into games or electronics, so after a stroll, we headed back to our side of the city with the sun setting behind us.


I've recently become obsessed with the work of Kawase Hasui. For me it visually marries the delicate detail and precision I've seen in Miyazaki films with the traditional Japanese woodblock print. Hasui was apparently a prominent part of the shin-hanga (new print) movement in the early 20th century.

Coming next: Tokyo Station, Imperial Palace, Marunouchi, Ginza, Odaiba, Roppongi, Shibuya... and some more of Nakameguro. All in three posts or less, promise.

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