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Otaku Tokyo Travels During the Rise of Covid 19Otaku Tokyo Travels During the Rise of Covid 19Diary

gundamukgundamuk3 mese/i fa
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First putting fingers to keyboard in late February to start a blog following an earlier trip to Tokyo and Wonder Festival I now marvel at how much the world seems to have changed in the space of two months, and how the initial parts of the draft seem from a different time and place… During the trip in mid-February a gathering sense of anxiety was palpable on the streets of Tokyo, and after returning home to Roma it was with increasing concern that I tracked the nightly news broadcasting more and more cases of the novel coronavirus, then starting to attack Lombardy in Northern Italy. My blog sat unfinished as more and more of us on MFC posted articles referencing worries, quarantines, and how to pass the time.

This virus is serious and is now throughout Italy and many other countries. Hopefully most of us are through the worst of it now. As this is a figure collector site, however, instead of dwelling on Covid too much further, I’m sticking with my original plan to do a couple separate posts on my trip.

This first one is on my Otaku Tokyo travels and I’ll look to follow with a second on WonFes with some loot posts. Finally I may be able to convince my spouse (and traveling partner) to write up what I thought would be a unique and interesting potential read for the community: observations from the perspective of a non-figure collector going to WonFes, and her tips on how to survive a Japan trip that includes stops in prurient figure geekdom (!!)

Ah yes, there is an NSFW tag on this article. Like most of my collection this article has lewd content. So if you’re hankering for pics or descriptions of G-rated Tokyo animal cafes, anime trinkets, or scales from the latest popular anime then push the back button and instead check out some of the many other fine Tokyo travel write-ups previously published on the site or elsewhere. Proceeding on you’ll find a bit of shop commentary mixed along with a couple of my recommendations to ward off jet lag and hunger, and finally a doujinshi shop review where you can find all manner of off-beat NSFW doujins along with the usual fare.

So, off to Otaku Tokyo, at that distant time when social distancing sounded like a bad band name and handwashing was something you thought about before a meal, after using the restroom or shaking hands, especially with someone who has sweaty palms. A time that comes back to us sooner rather than later, I hope.

Now it’d been a couple years since I last attended a Wonder Festival BLOG #39318 so late last year my wife and I decided to plan a trip to Tokyo to coincide with 2020's Winter WonFes on Feb. 9. Having lived in Japan until 2016 we had an agenda full of familiar activities, shopping, and dining. And coming from Roma we were also looking forward to real sushi, reliable public transportation, and elevators that didn’t require one to physically open and close the elevator door(s) before use.

Setting out the first week of February Covid 19 was just starting to seriously stalk the headlines, and we were curious to see how it (or maybe better to say, the fear of it) was impacting life in Tokyo. But it was actually Fiumicino airport where we saw the first indicators… People with face masks, which you rarely saw in Italy until now. A young Italian couple queuing to check their luggage on the flight to Tokyo looked quite concerned and uncomfortable, fidgeting with newly donned masks. Once in Tokyo we saw long lines for face masks as well as the inevitable fear-mongering snake oil products promising to “block out” potential bacteria contamination for the user.
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For our first couple days before WonFes we hit Akiba, Shibuya, and Harajuku. I always enjoy the photo tour blogs of Akiba shops that other MFC users post, so this time I thought I’d write a bit about Akiba Hobby Tengoku and their rental cases, Radio Kaikan, and for the ero doujinshi fans, the 5-7th floors of Toranoana.

But first a new cafe recommendation! Since there are only a few Akiba figure shops that open by 1100 (at the earliest), and most at 12 noon, I’m always on the lookout for a good café in Akiba if I end up arriving a bit early. I was most pleased to find this time a little branch of famous San Francisco coffee shop Blue Bottle on Mansei Bridge. (bluebottlecoffe...) Mansei bridge is one of the few relics of Taisho-ero Tokyo left in the metropolis, so a morning coffee here is also a chance to see a bit of the city as it once was, before heading off to the clamor and chaos that are the streets around Akihabara.

It’s a small shop with great service
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And even better espresso.

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If arriving around lunch or looking for a break from what’s on offer in Akiba itself, I recommend Kanda Matsuya for tempura soba. It’s a 10 min walk from Akiba, they use top quality ingredients, the noodles are hand-rolled, and they have been in business for decades.

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Moving on to Akiba, it’s always fun to check out the “rental case retailers” in the area. Akiba Hobby Tengoku is one of the larger ones.

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At these kinds of shops, for a fee, private individuals can rent display cases in one of the heaviest pedestrian traffic areas in Akiba to sell off parts of their collection. The cases make great browsing, especially for no-box items that may be harder to find in regular retail shops. What you’ve struggled to find elsewhere you may locate here. Prices, however, are frequently more spendy than what you would find at Mandarake or AmiAmi. And it takes time. And effort as once locating an item you must write the box and item numbers down on a form, wait in line if there’s a queue, and then go with a shop attendant to retrieve the item. If you’re serious about shopping the cases at Hobby Tengoku the best advice I could give would be to arrive early. It’s a nightmare to actually try and buy something on a crowded afternoon.

Radio Kaikan is a must-visit destination for any trip to Akiba.

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It’s my personal favorite given the variety of stores – Volks and Azone on top with 1/3 scale BJDs, Yellow Submarine, Books K-On, AmiAmi, etc. Surprisingly enough, although like many of us on MFC I order from AmiAmi online I’d actually never stopped off at either of their Akiba locations before. We did go to both locations but I picked up more stuff at the Radio Kaikan AmiAmi. They have a great selection of figures, tchotchkes, and hobby supplies.

Here's just one of the figure aisles:

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I found a chunk of modeling materials along with some 1/12 scale models for Figmas at the best prices I saw in town.

Heading down the main drag on the opposite side of the block from Mandarake is my favorite doujinshi haunt, Toranoana. Next door there was a giveaway going on at Animate back when social distancing wasn't a thing.

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Toranoana does have regular SFW doujins but I was interested in floors 5-7. They have a fine selection of NSFW doujinshi, broken down into series as well as genre.

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LoveLive or IdolMaster your thing?

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Or the game girls from KOF?
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Or maybe a section devoted entirely to guro and horror?

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Yup, they have all that and most everything else you could think up. (And ladies, there is a separate floor devoted to new Yaoi and such, although Ikebukuro still has the best variety I’d think).

I only picked up a couple, including my main target - the most recent Oda NON doujinshi and tapestry. Both still available without the need to queue up at Comiket!

Well I'll stop here and pick up again next time with the trip to Won Fes. During our time in town we hit plenty of other Otaku shops but I fear I've gone on too long and most all of the other shops we visited have been reviewed before.

Ciao for now and stay healthy.
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gundamuk Lewd, but never uncouth...
Belle_Reve3 mese/i fa#77523838What a nostalgia trip this blog was for me... I went to all these places in Akiba two years ago when I was there (except that soba place... it looks good!), and I was supposed to go to Japan again literally next Wednesday but alas, that's obviously not happening now :(Glad you enjoyed it. And sorry to hear about the trip cancellation - I've wondered myself how things will look different going forward... Hope you can get your trip in sooner rather than later.
3 mese/i fa
What a nostalgia trip this blog was for me... I went to all these places in Akiba two years ago when I was there (except that soba place... it looks good!), and I was supposed to go to Japan again literally next Wednesday but alas, that's obviously not happening now :(
3 mese/i fa
gundamuk Lewd, but never uncouth...
funwari3 mese/i fa#77522301I'd feel a bit guilty stepping on the Bye Bye Frustration girl at Toranoana, but I guess every space is worth advertising on. These are nice pictures. Did you have to take them secretly?haha thanks - Yes I was discrete, but arriving early also helped.
3 mese/i fa
I'd feel a bit guilty stepping on the Bye Bye Frustration girl at Toranoana, but I guess every space is worth advertising on. These are nice pictures. Did you have to take them secretly?
3 mese/i fa
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