Barclay Does Tokyo – Week 2

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           In this overdue post, I give you an update as to what the hell I’ve been up to here in Tokyo. Aside from the normal block hangs and visitors, I ventured further into Tokyo to find culture, food, and oddity. A trip to Akihabara brought me face to face with Otaku culture at its finest. Nicknamed the Electric Town, it was a major shopping destination after World War II for household electronics, and also served as a post war black market. Still a destination for those on the hunt for vintage cameras and electronics, Akihabara mainly serves a different crowd these days. Otaku dominates the economy and culture of the area, attracting anime fanboys and girls, though mostly boys and grown men, from all over the world. Oddly enough, wherever you could find anything Otaku related, there was also porn for sale nearby. Like, in the next isle nearby. Maybe not so odd if you think about it, Japan is a country of the extremes. Aside from exploring the anime/porn world, I’ve been trying to eat anything Japanese familiar or not. To be fair, food in Japan is pretty good just about anywhere you go (you can’t really go wrong), but like anyone will tell you anywhere in the world, it’s always the local spots that are the best. Often finding myself in these places through people’s suggestions or simply by sight, I usually end up being faced with the now rather familiar language barrier. At that point it’s never failed me to let the server suggest or even just order their favorites for me. If it turns out to not be your flavor, make sure to always have an Oolong Hai in arm’s reach to wash it down. It doesn’t hurt to have actual locals take you around to show you what’s up either, and thankfully I had some help from my friends Natalie and Ryohei to direct me. Whether it’s Takoyaki or Yakitori, make sure you have someone with you who knows what they’re doing, as it’ll make eating whatever comes your way all the better. Trying to figure out what locals get themselves into after hours, I found myself on the legendary Cat Street. The street where a lot of Japanese streetwear got its start, it is here you’ll find Pink Dragon, a definite must see if you’re in Tokyo. A party thrown by Know Wave this week also brought out a good amount of the local scene, and gave me a taste of the street culture here in Tokyo. To round things off, I made my way up to Asakusa, and as I get out of the train station, unbeknownst to me, walked right into a festival. It was Sanja Matsuri, a weekend long traditional festival celebrating the spirits of three Shinto leaders. Streets were filled with people dressed in traditional garb to accompany the music and performances. Part of the festival involves the parading of three miniature shrines around town, and similarly with other smaller shrines, but carried either by children or women. To be honest, I got lucky with this one, and I had no idea I’d stumble upon something like this while I was here. It all came full circle I guess, seeing the modern cultural phenomena, to the traditional past, and everything in between. Who knows what’s next; I just hope I don’t get in trouble for harassing girls in maid’s dresses for another picture.