Sunday in Akihabara

Furukawa Denki welcomes you to Akihabara with this interactive display from the upcoming Alice Soft game Shaman’s Sanctuary.

I went to Akihabara today for the first time in awhile with no concrete plans but to soak in the district after a long absence. There were some welcome changes, like the Star Kebab sandwich stand set up just off Chuuoh Doori (complete with Kebab-tan). According to the notice the stand was there on a seasonal basis, but the shop that had done a brisk business for the past 10 years on a side street is still flourishing in a way more authentic, delicious and cheap than most of the maid cafes.

On that note, Cafe With Cat on the second floor of Toranoana #B has closed (in May of last year, apparently – yes I’m behind the news, orz). That floor is now being used for character goods, the bar and tables still largely intact but now draped with trinkets. It’s a shame; I liked the atmosphere. I got a drink at Mister Donut today instead.

The fate of the Electric Town front of the JR station has been unveiled in the form of a large and inhospitable slab of Tokyu Hands. Long gone is the best toridon for my money in Tokyo that used to dwell on the ground floor of the old Akihabara Department Store.

There is however the new Gundam Cafe on the opposite side of the JR station, which I discovered too late in the day to brave the lines for a drink or an ogle at the souvenirs.

Other than a bit of shopping to fulfil the otaku urges, the highlight of the afternoon was seeing the pro-Japan demonstration that wound its way through the middle of Akiba at around 3:30. The overall thrust of the protest was anti-Chinese, with signs ranging from the current hot topic of the Senkaku islands sovereignty issue to Tibetan independence.

A mass police presence accompanied the march, easily over a hundred policemen – several in full riot gear – alongside the several hundred protesters. I’ve never seen so many Japanese flags in one place before, and neither had the throngs of onlookers which on a Sunday afternoon in the busy electronics/entertainment district easily outnumbered the protesters ten to one along the route they were traversing.

The day’s pictures can be found below, along with a video of the demonstration.

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