Friday, February 13, 2009

Akihabara: the Redux

So my laptop sucks. This is slightly more problematic than usual b/c the other computers available to me are Japanese. This doesn't render them completely useless, but the keyboard is weird and likes to occasionally make me type jibberish and most of the writing is in Japanese. I can get by in Word by looking at the icons, but reading error messages when I'm programming is more problematic.

Given this situation, I decided it would be worthwhile to at least upgrade the memory in my laptop. This gave me a convenient excuse to skip out on work this afternoon and head back to Akihabara.

I'm working on getting a better feeling for Tokyo's layout, so I decided to walk. Everything was going fine until I was almost in Akihabara. Having seen the first of the electronics stores, I gave in to the temptation of deviating from the known route and following more interesting streets (damn alleys and there irresistable allure).

I found myself in a place that was very like Akihabara, except instead of electronics there were many clothing and golf shops. I was also deceived by an overhead rail track that I 'recognized' from my last trip to Akiba, so I kept walking. Just as I was getting quite concerned about my location, I stumble upon the Ueno subway station.

So my detour to Ueno wasted 45 minutes or so, but at least I knew where I was and how to get back to where I wanted to be. I finally get to Akihabara and quickly come across my first destination: Nyankoro

Nyankoro is a cat cafe. You pay money to hang out in a room filled with cats. As an added bonus you can help yourself to drinks from the fountain machines.

It is at least as weird as it sounds. There were 3 people already there when I arrived (a couple and a guy in a suit) and another group of 3 showed up while I was there. There are little mats and tables on the floor and you just hang out with 10 or so cats in a small room.

I didn't stay for the whole half hour I paid for, but it was worth seeing with my own eyes. I'm still not sure what I think of this.

Next, I went wandering around the many electronics stores. The bigger ones didn't have the RAM I needed (probably b/c it's old and crappy), but I found a smaller place where I could get a Gig for 2990yen. I also picked up some speakers for my mp3 player and a mouse for cheap.

By this point it was 6.30 or so and I was pretty hungry. Having already investigated the cat cafe, I figured I ought to try out a maid cafe as well. As you might guess, this is a cafe where the women dress up in maid costumes. There are quit a few of them in Akihabara and even more women in the streets dressed like maids handing out flyers for them.

I guess maid cafes are kind of like a weird Japanese take on Hooters. The staff is all female and they wear costumes and are flirty. I was sat at a bar and ordered Carbonara and a beer. There was already another guy at the bar when I got there (needless to say the only customers were guys). When he left, the bartender-maid came over to talk to me. She tried to converse with my, but did not speak English. So mostly she would just giggle a lot. I don't know, maybe that appeals to some people, but for my part, trying to eat while a Japanese woman dressed like a maid giggles at you is really just unnerving.

On the plus side, beer was only 500yen and the food wasn't too expensive either. Even w/ the 300yen charge for walking in the door, it was no more than a normal meal w/ a beer.

1 comment:

  1. Only my brother would find an inexpensive meal to be worth the personal awkwardness of a giggling Japanese waitress/maid.

    There's not food at the cat cafe, though? Just drinks? And cats?