Akihabara to Ueno!
Our first true nerd day! It was the first time either of us had been to Akihabara and we were excited to shop. We met up with a friend who lives near Tokyo to show us around. Unfortunately, we were so caught up in shopping, we didn't take too many pictures...
Akihabara can be overwhelming to explore. There are so many different stores, each with different products. If you’re looking for a specific item (like I was) it’s definitely worth looking in every store you come across! You never know what you’re going to find. We could have really used another day to explore, but we were on a tight schedule and got a late start that day, since after 9 days of non-stop action, we were truly becoming exhausted!
Our first stop was Kotobukiya, an amazing multi-level store with all new anime goods and figures. We bought a bunch of souvenirs there. We then checked out Lashinbang, which had an alarming amount of second hand keychains and other character goods. They’re mostly separated by series and then by character. It probably took us twenty minutes just to find and sort through the Haikyuu wall. Somehow we escaped with only a few small items.
To take a break from shopping, we got delicious, cheap ramen for lunch. It was under $5 a bowl and still better than anything we've had in NYC.
We then went to the two different Animate buildings and AmiAmi and bought way too much stuff. The Sanrio x Fullmetal Alchemist collaboration items were a weakness for us, but we spent carefully, because we knew we had another big nerd day upcoming.
Our next stop was 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan, which is a market underneath the Yamanote train tracks between Akihabara Station and Ueno. There are a lot of small stores with different artisan goods, but we mainly went because Lynnette collects the vinyl toys from Studio Uamou, who have a small shop and cafe. (Lynnette's Note: And somehow I did not buy the whole store. This was one of my Must Visit shops in Tokyo and it was so charming and hard to decide what to buy. Unexpectedly, the designer was there, and she speaks fluent English, so I was able to sufficiently communicate how much I loved the shop without resorting to my poor Japanese, which got worse the more tired I got over the course of the trip, haha.)
We walked up to Ueno to check out a huge toy store, Yamashiroya, which is floor after floor of everything from Studio Ghibi to Star Wars and everything in between.
After all that shopping, we went to a family restaurant to have dessert! Our friend told us we had to try Creamia ice cream, which is a special kind of extra creamy, rich vanilla ice cream. It was delicious!
We parted ways with our friend at this point and headed back to Shin-Okubo to explore the area near our Airbnb. Shin-Okubo is the Korea Town of Tokyo and being K-pop fans, we had to make time to look around. There are tons of Korean restaurants and a string of stores that sell all sorts of K-pop goods and CDs. I ended up buying 2 CDs because they were way cheaper than in the US, and also some hilarious stickers.