Ikebukuro, a Maid Cafe, and my most expensive purchase
You know you’re coming close to the end of a trip when your running out of things to do, but also running out of money. The end indeed near, but neither of those things applied to us. There was still plenty on the plate to do and much more spending that I needed doing, but I also made a pitiful mistake at this point of the trip as well. Hit the jump to read on about my small trip to Ikebukuro, my first experience in a maid cafe, and my most expensive purchase EVER!
Ah Wednesdays. It’s the middle of the week and after a wet and wonderful trip to Tokyo DisneySea, my comrades and I were in no mood to go anywhere. But knowing me, I don’t like staying at the hotel. There was nothing planned for this day as we were anticipating on going to the Ghibli Museum the next day. This got me thinking of places to go and I decided to head to Ikebukuro. Last time I went for the Gundam Expo with Rin of Koi Aichaku, but we didn’t cover a lot of Otome Road. So off we went!
On the way to the station, we saw a line of people lining up in front of a van. I thought it was some kind of shady make shift shop selling goods, but it turns out to be a food stall. Hungry for breakfast, we weren’t exactly wanting food from a van. Instead we had KFC in Ikebukuro. Mind you my friends wanted KFC as did I for a strange reason. Guess being in Japan for so long makes you yearn for non-Japanese food. Of course KFC in Japan is different in Australia, and although I’d say I prefer Australia’s KFC, I guess it’s more of the fact I’m not accustomed to Japanese taste for fast food. Sure give me another month and I’ll probably won’t even tell the difference.
Arriving at Ikebukuro, we checked out the usual things that you find on the main street heading towards Sunshine City. Even checked out the Toranoana there and happen to find a few items that I wanted. Moving on towards Sunshine City the other reason for coming here as well is that I remember there being a Naruto Expo on as I remember seeing signs during the Gundam Expo. But alas getting there we found that you had to pay for entrance. Screw that. Naruto isn’t worth paying for just for an expo. If the Gundam Expo required you to pay I would gladly pay.
Just opposite Sunshine City is Otome Road. I also found this park right outside but left pretty quickly as this place was crawling with the homeless. We headed right for the end of the road and work our way back. K-Books, Lashinbang, and Animate were the main stores that we went through. I actually wanted to check out some of the more “female focused” stores but in the end I’m still a coward and didn’t want to head in alone. My friends didn’t want to go in either, so I guess next time I’ll have a female companion with me. Though seeing last time I walked through Mandarake, I think that was more than enough of an experience.
One of the things with me and shopping, I can zip through a store pretty quickly. But not as fast as Roobar. However I took it a little slower as I was also looking for items for my sister, by the time I came out of the store, my friends had developed a rather strange addiction. Gashaphons. I’m not sure what it was as they wasted a good ¥2000 or so on the one machine. I had a feeling this can turn very strange over the next few days and I also found out something amusing when it comes to my luck on gashaphons. I didn’t buy all that much on Otome Road, mainly just some manga for my sister and a Hatsune Miku dakimakura for myself.
Right near Animate, there’s a showroom by Toyota called Auto Salon. This certainly perked my interest as anything related to cars, it’s serious business for me. Having explored Otome Road a lot faster than expected, we walked in to find a showcase of various Toyota racing cars as well as showcases for the technologies they use in their cars. One of the coolest things they had was also a safety driving simulator. The aim was to drive as far as possible whilst avoiding various hazardous events such as oncoming cars, fallen trees and fog. The aim was to assess your hazard awareness and reactions. Sounds like what I do everyday when driving to work. So I gave it a go, only crashed once, but ranked second. It does simulate a crash, but I don’t exactly know what a crash is like since I’ve never been in one, but all it did was tighten the seatbeat and shake around a bit.
Later that night we went off to Yodobashi Akiba as my friend wanted to buy a whole bunch of Gundam kits. A bit of a gundam fan, more so than me. But I have managed to match him in terms of buying as I got myself one of these:
Yes that’s right, a Jumbo Grade Zeta. These things are massive and stands about halfway up my thigh. I’ve always wanted one of these ever since I found out they make them. The best thing about this Jumbo Zeta, it transforms! It was only a mere ¥19,700 and considering how much shipping would cost for one of these, it still work out cheaper than ordering online. Though carrying this on the trains wasn’t so bad since it was pretty late and not that many people out. But it certainly draws a lot of attention. We also had dinner at Yodobashi Camera and here’s a sample of what we had:
The morning started with us getting ready to head to the Ghibli Museum. However the day came to a rather sour turn. Looking at the tickets I acquired, I saw the dates were for yesterday. Most unfortunate and I can only blame myself for such a blunder. Probably because it’s the near end of the trip and I got a bit more relaxed in terms of planning things. So definitely the biggest blunder this whole trip. Oh well what can you do. So damn what to do? well only one thing to do, goto Akiba.
Breakfast was sushi. It’s actually kind of strange to have sushi so early in the day as I usually associate sushi with dinner. It was also a rather cheap meal since we were running low on cash and withdrawing was out of the question. Anyway the trip to Akiba was also one of my best trips there as it was also the first time I got to walk around myself. Other times have been with my comrades or other friends to do group shopping, but alas I can finally go around exploring on my own. Well not that I needed much exploring since I’ve seen most of the places.
Most of the time in Akiba was spent on searching for items requested by my sister and whatever remains on the list for friends. However I was also on the search for a specifc item. An item of great value and would probably elevate my otaku status. This item has been on my want list for quite a while and it’s probably something that the majority of anime-focused otakus would look at getting. The main task of this trip to Akiba was find a place that was selling it, but alas my search came short. However I did find alternatives that I would consider. But what is this one item that I’m talking about? Well you’ll find out a bit later if you continue reading.
Later that night, it was another bucket of rain. And when it rains, we don’t feel like going far for dinner. We went to one of the places we spotted very early in our trip but never went in since it was busy, a ramen shop. Well I think it was a ramen shop, I can’t quite remember. Anyway this place was fantastic as it’s specialty was black pork. I’m not sure why but I couldn’t finish my bowl of ramen either. This was the 2nd time I couldn’t finish a meal in my trip.
Another day of wondrous adventures and for good reasons. This day was one of the other otaku things I wanted to in Japan: a maid cafe. One of the biggest regrets I had about my last trip was not being able to goto a maid cafe as I simple ran out of money. Actually it’s no different but I’m not completely broke. Although I was all ready to get going, there was a problem. Which one to go to? There are a lot of maid cafes in Akiba and choosing a good one isn’t an easy choice. Luckily for us Roobar’s friends who were in Japan at the time have been to several already and were on a “maid cafe binge”. So we decided to meet up with them later that day to take us to one. In the mean time, yep, more shopping in Akiba.
This day I was also adamant about buying that one item that I was looking for yesterday. Since I didn’t find the one I originally wanted I once again went around to the usual places to think of an alternative. However I have been told by Akiba veterans that items come and go quite often in places like Mandarake. So giving it a chance I ventured over there and I swear the gods must have been smiling upon me that day, I found the exact item I wanted, and for a reasonable price. But what is this item you ask? Well the image below answers your question:
Yes it’s my very own dollfie! Sorry don’t have a photo so I’ll use the actual image from Volks. But yes, the one item I was looking for was a dollfie. Having being introduced to the dollfie world thanks to a friend of mine, I’ve been fascinated by them and wanted to know what it was like to actually own one. I actually spotted this Sendo Erika Dollfie Dream on display at the Volks Akiba branch early in the trip with Tamarket and knew I wanted this one. However I didn’t buy her as I didn’t want to carry her around in my suitcase for majority of the trip. But alas when I went to buy one before, they were sold out. I was actually at a loss of what I was going to do since she was sold out so I looked at alternatives but I was luckily to find at Mandarake.
Also this is the MOST EXPENSIVE ITEM I have bought this entire trip. A staggering ¥52,500 is how much I paid for her, and that is relatively close to retail price, give or take a few hundred yens. So you can see why not a lot of figure collectors would look into buying one of these as they are quite expensive, but trust me, this dollfie is cheap compared to one that my friend Roobar bought. But I shall cover that another day and expect future photo shoots.
With dollfie in my hands it was time to head over to meet up with Roobar’s friends for our first maid cafe experience. I was quite excited about this, though I could say otherwise for two of my comrades as their otakuness is not up there. But that’s probably a good thing. The place we went to is called @home cafe where they have a number of branches throughout Akiba and the place we went to had 4 floors. We chose the 5th floor was this was the Japanese style maid cafe, where all the maids were dressed up in kimonos.
Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed inside, but everything I experienced is just how I read it and from what people have told me. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as we were served by some rather cute maids. Although being a foreigner was something else and lucky for us, they had an English menu. Although since there was 6 of us, they split us into two groups, and the two comrades with me had little to no comprehension of Japanese. So I took care of everything when came to ordering and explaining what the maid was saying.
Food wise it was pretty mediocre items like cakes, tea, ice cream etc. Don’t expect to find a satisfying meal at a maid cafe, but really who wants to go to a maid cafe for food? The most amusing thing about coming to a maid cafe was seeing my friends do the whole cutesy things that the maids get you to do. Ok, one of the them was make a heart shape with your fingers and move it left to right and then point to your food whilst saying “moé moé beamu”. I enjoyed every bit of it but seeing my friends do it was probably the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. But I rest assured my friends that they aren’t that bad compared to some of the regulars that we saw in the place. Really, you’ve heard of those who are REALLY into this kind of stuff, well I was sitting right next to one.
But like all good things, they must come to an end. But before leaving, the maid got us each to nominate an animal that she would draw onto a membership card for each of us. This card allows you to gather points with each visit, but god knows what you get for when you cash them in. I was also really tempted to get a photo with some of the maids but alas it never happened. Perhaps another time. I wanted to goto another maid cafe but my comrades didn’t want to go through another one, so I guess the Imouto (little sister) Cafe will have to be for another trip.
Thus we parted ways with Roobar’s friends and did some more shopping. I managed to score myself a few figures, a gundam kit, and the Fate Tiger Colosseum Upper Megamori Box. Since it was also a Friday, we had to rush back to the post office near the hotel in order in send back our last EMS package. Pretty much it was an emergency box as Roobar and myself underestimated the amount we bought. Thankfully it was the last box for the entire trip. The rest of the day was simply relaxing at the hotel.