Day 5: Geek Paradise

The commute from home to the university is definitely getting better. I didn’t get lost a single time and the commute didn’t feel as long and tiring either. I got to Waseda early today so that I could meet up with some friends and go to lunch to a proper place instead of eating another konbini lunch in the classroom. I ended up eating gyudon which was once again delicious. I was impressed to find an option of takeaway when I was choosing my food on the vending machine.

After an interesting class about fictional stories of young aspirants wanting to enter the Japanese entertainment industry , I headed to akihabara with my classmates, which is an area of Tokyo popular for its anime, manga, electronic stores and maid cafes. It is a geek paradise and was full of young teenagers and men who hung out in DVD shops and electronic stores. The buildings were painted with popular anime characters, none of whom I was familiar with. There were also a surprising number of sex shops in the area, one of which was a six storey building selling different kinds of sex accessories on each floor. Nonetheless the atmosphere was amazing and I had a great time walking around and spending some time inside one of the gaming arcades.

The most interesting part of today was a visit to a maid cafe. Maid cafes are places where waitresses are dressed up as maids and they put of dance shows for customers. It isn’t exactly what you’re thinking, although there sure were quite a few men in there. Maid cafes are more just built on the idea of recreating the feeling of coming home to great service and being taken care of (customer is king sort of thing). When I walked into the maid cafe, I was surprised at home bright and pink it was as opposed to the dark and dingy room I had imagined it would be. Waitresses spoke to us in a girly tone and said more than necessary when they took our order and delivered our drinks. The show was just one maid dancing to what sounded like a Japanese pop song.

I came home to a Japanese curry dinner, which is apparently a popular meal in Japanese households. I also tried ankoro mochi for dinner, which is basically mochi inside a red bean paste of sorts. It looked like chocolate, but tasted nothing like it.

With respect to moving around and living in Tokyo, things are definitely getting easier and more familiar. But with each new piece of information, I realize how much more there is to learn about this culture. I won’t say I love Japan or I hate it. I just don’t know it yet.