Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tokyo Madness #6: Akihabara, Land of Porn and Video Games

Akihabara. The land of porn and video games. Heaven for pedophiles and greasy otaku. A world that welcomes creepy men too old to listen to the girl-band pop that they love. A place drowning in weird electronics and French maids. Akihabara, somehow the greatest place on earth and the shittiest hell hole imaginable rolled into one brain-numbing ordeal. Akihabara was very close to where Taena and I were staying, so we visited it a lot. I've already written about the maid cafe experience, but there's so much more nuttiness in Akihabara that it deserves another post. I can't cover everything, so I'll break this post into a few sections of the best and worst shit we saw.


1. Porn

There was no escaping porn in Akihabara. I was looking for a few Miike DVDs, so we went into some DVD stores for a thorough search. The first one we found looked like a completely legitimate store. The first floor had a couple of rows of regular DVDs of both Japanese films and foreign stuff. Next to them were a few rows of adult DVDs; pretty softcore looking flicks, nothing too odd. Then we went up to the second floor and were in porn heaven/hell. This was an entire floor of filthy, filthy porn. I mean this was shit that would make even the dirtiest of perverts blush. Bukkake bonanzas, squirters and crying girls made up the majority of the covers of the live action porn.

The hentai (cartoon porn) was even creepier. We walked down the aisles of tentacle porn laughing at the titles and covers. And then the laughing stopped. "Is that child porn?" I asked Taena, pointing at a disturbing looking cartoon cover. Looking down the row, we noticed a whole lot of other pedoish DVDs and games. I won't go into detail, but the cartoon artwork was pretty graphic, depicting some very young looking characters. We all felt pretty sickened. And the gigantically tall and obese albino stalking down the aisle carrying a towering pile of hentai against his sweat drenched black trench-coat didn't help the mood. The pedo-albino white guy experience put me off Akihabara for a while. We didn't return for at least a week.

It's difficult to find a DVD or bookstore in Akihabara that isn't overflowing with porn, so when you go to an actual porn shop, the selection is overwhelming. Taena and I spent a day in Akihabara searching for the funniest tentacle porn we could find as a gift for ultra-friend Andrew. Some of the filth merchants (the porn palaces as I called them) we visited were mind-boggling. One store had six or seven floors of porn, yet strangely no hentai at all. Another place had about five cramped floors of only hentai. It was surprisingly difficult to find something that was both outrageous and affordable (ie: under 40 bucks). DVDs, in general, are crazy expensive in Japan and porn is no exception.


2. Electro overload

Akihabara isn't known as Akihabara Electric Town for nothing. You can get pretty much any sort of electronic item you want in Akihabara's endless rows and alleyways of stores. I'm sure there's a lot of useful stuff around for those who know what they're doing, but I preferred the useless garbage. The novelty electronics were a crack up. My favourite was a robotic model of a Japanese businessman working out on a gymnasium bar. Best Christmas gift ever? I think so.


3. Kebabs

I live in Brunswick, so kebabs are pretty much unavoidable. I've been living amongst kebabs for seven years. Last year, I stopped eating them. I'd eaten so many, the thought of them was enough to make me nauseous. I would've never predicted that Tokyo would get me to eat kebabs again. I didn't even expect to see a kebab in Tokyo. But lo and behold, for some odd reason, a bunch of Turkish dudes had set up shop in Akihabara. They had two trailers for frying up kebabs; one for halal, one for non-halal. On a very hungover afternoon, I thought I'd try their "Big Boy" special (just a standard lamb kebab with garlic sauce). Holy crap, I don't know if it was the hangover factor (although I had another one sans hangover and had the same reaction), but wowsers, it was damn fine kebab! In fact, it shat all over the grimy kebabs on Sydney Road. Howzat?!




4. Retro games

Akihabara reignited my love of the Super Nintendo, or the Super Famicom as it's known in Japan. Taena and I found a Super Famicom for 20ish bucks at a secondhand store and decided it would be a bit of fun. That purchase led to a chaotic spree of retro game buying that took place in the many retro gaming stores of Akihabara. It's not hard to find retro game shops in Akihabara, but the best one was. It was hidden away amongst the maid cafes and porn palaces. Our only instruction to find it was "listen out for the sounds of old Nintendo games". That turned out to be pretty good tip, as that's how we found it.

The Super Famicom we scored

The store was simply called "Retro Games". It was a chain of sorts with many locations across Akihabara. Some specialized in newer stuff with a couple of SNES games lying around, but this one had an entire level for Famicom (original Nintendo) and Super Famicom products. I had a list of SNES games that were only released in Japan (and playable without having to know Japanese), courtesy of my friend Joseph, that I wanted to find. We managed to find about 90 percent of the list, plus a few classics like Super Mario Kart and Super Metroid.

Our stash

Here's a couple of the favourites in our stash:
Super Back to the Future II
JikkyŨ Oshaberi Parodius (and the rest of the Parodius games)
Axelay Front Mission: Gun Hazard
Pop'n TwinBee
Mickey's Great Adventure in Tokyo Disneyland
Gon
Marchen Adventure Cotton 100%
Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen




I'm sure there's more to Akihabara than electronics, porn, games, maid cafes and kebabs. But really, to an uneducated foreigner, they're the first things that jump out. To be fair, they are pretty in your face, constantly (except maybe the kebabs). While Akihabara is a must-see place for those heading to Japan, I did notice that whenever it was brought up around locals it was talked about with a lot of venom and distaste. I heard the name "Akihabara" being spat out like a hunk of phlegm many a time. I admit, the creepy hentai child porn was definitely a frightening low point (probably the only really nasty moment of our Tokyo trip). But, c'mon, Super Famicom games! So fuck you and thanks, Akihabara!

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