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Day Trip to Akihabara

2010/04/28 1 comment

This past weekend I decided to avoid the convenience of trains to shoot me around town and navigated myself to the close location of Akihabara. For most Otaku out there this is the Mecca of electronic shops, maid cafes, and every kind of tech available. It is even referred to as the Electric District or Electric Town. Like places in Kanda, Akihabara developed after WWII as a black market district for cables, wires and any electronic devices. Even today you are encouraged in the smaller stores to barter prices.

My only association to this area was the one or two times I went during my previous study abroad and now when I hear the station name as I go to school. From Ryogoku on the Sobu-chuo line Akihabara is two stops away. When you travel on the trains through Tokyo you lose any sense of spatial orientation or relative distances. What I mean to say is leaving my apartment in Ryogoku I had no idea if it would take twenty minutes or an hour to get there.

The pictures I took capture my route from the apartment all the way up to the electric district. I enjoyed seeing all the avenues and streets that you cross along the way. It gave me a better sense of place within Tokyo’s metropolis. It also provided a glimpse of people going about their daily lives away from the major hubs of the city.

Here is a slide show of some of the pictures I took on the way.

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All in all the walk took about thirty minutes with me stopping, taking pictures and generally strolling about which means a swift pace would get you there in twenty minutes. Not too bad and in the process this part of town became a real space and not just a line from one station to another. Along the way I found a few signs which peaked my interest.

I love this picture. My apartment looks out over the Sumida river. The river which keeps popping up in all my photos. As I crossed the river I came across this sign. The three large characters say Sumida River. Below is written 川をきれいに美しく which I translate roughly to “Keep the river clean to beautify it.” This is a message from the prefecture office. I love that keeping the river clean and beautiful has not translated to the sign itself.

This sign came along the train line as I got closer to Akihabara. Between Ryogoku and Ahihabara I cross districts from the Sumida ward to the Chiyoda Ward. This sign comes from the latter. As you can see from the sign it is an anti smoking sign. It is not suggesting that you should not smoke or you cannot smoke standing in front of the sign. What it demands is that you, “Stop Walking and Smoking!” I put the exclamation point because the final verb やめましょう (Yamemasho) is the command form of stop. Just another amusing sign I love seeing around town.

This is more of a goal I am setting for myself. Nearly everywhere you go in Tokyo there are shrines, historical locations or information about an area. On my way to Akihabara I came across a little shrine next to a park. Looking at this sign I realized that however much my language has developed I still cannot read signs like this. Mostly due to the names or place locations these signs are hard to make sense of. My goal is to develop the ability to read these signs so when friends and family visit I might be able to provide a rough translation and gain a bit of knowledge.

So this was my day. I didn’t take any pictures at Akihabara because honestly I cannot stand the atmosphere there. It is great having every electronic store so close, however, you must also deal with every tourist in the world because internationally this is the electric town and a ‘duty free’ area. Whatever my feelings about this district I will continue to shop there because I do find reasons to by more computer crap. On the plus side it is nice to know that with fair weather the walk is quite enjoyable.

Until next time, Cheers!