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February 2019. It was about 15:00 on a bustling Saturday afternoon in Tokyo’s Akihabara Electric Town and Wonderboy and I had already had an amazing day. Having breakfasted at the bewildering Maidreamin Maid Café and hung out with rare birds at the wondrous Akiba Fukurou Owl Café, we were finally ready to lose ourselves in the district’s seemingly infinites sprawl of anime stores, comic shops, video game emporiums and neon-lit arcades. Wonderboy was keen to pick up some manga models and I had my heart set on a new t-shirt or two, so we split up for the rest of the afternoon in a bid to just wander freely and get lost. My Akihabara adventure started here at the city’s largest Don Quijote store, a massive 8-floor tower block where… they say… you can pretty much buy anything you might be looking for. The monster chain’s first store opened right here in Akihabara in 1989, while today there are over 300 branches across Japan.
February 2019. With so much of our Tokyo activities having been scheduled and pre-booked, it was almost blissful to just saunter about that afternoon with no plan. One of the first sections I came upon was Don Quijote’s cool supermarket. The range of products was dizzying and, just as I’d expected, some of it was worth purchasing simply for the cool packaging. So I picked up a Chili pepper flavored Kit Kat, a pack of Super Cola anime candy and some delicious Soy Jerky that blew away all the jerky I’d tried in China. Despite the fact that there were a million and one customers milling about things went quickly at the checkout and my service came with a smile and a bit of English. Ah, Tokyo!
February 2019. There was a whole floor dedicated just to cosplay, with nurse’s outfits, sumo costumes, police officer accessories (handcuffs anyone?) and cat and dragon masks. Looking to transform yourself into an axe-wielding Japanese warrior for next weekend’s fancy dress party? Fear not, Don Quijote has got you covered. The cosplay floor also has a maid café and that day there was a fifteen-minute wait just to get a table.
February 2019. I spent well over an hour exploring Don Quijote. Their clothing section is colossal and happily I found some really cool and reasonably priced (for Tokyo) t-shirts to call my own. The designs here go from about 2000JPY (£13.50/€15.80/$18) apiece, which is what I paid for the above t-shirt based on the legendary Japanese anime TV series Dragon Ball.
As is the case in most of Akihabara, don’t be surprised if you turn a corner and the vaguely sexual vibe that seems to inhabit just about everything instantly transforms into full-on hardcore pornography. Don Quijote’s adult section is small but compact, with sex toys, kinky outfits, DVDs, posters, flavored condoms and a handful of products you didn’t even know existed. I mean, seriously.
Don Quijote’s 8th floor is dedicated to the all-conquering Japanese girl band AKB48, who perform daily at the Akihabara 48 Theater. Marketed as “Japan’s most sophisticated show” and as the place that has “J-pop idols you can go and meet”, this is one of the hottest tickets in town. Wonderboy and I literally spent weeks sorting out reservations for Tokyo’s most colorful attractions but somewhere amid all the planning AKB48 passed us by. Could we get tickets on the day? Not a chance! These shows are booked up weeks ahead, so if you want to see the girls in action (check out YouTube, the whole thing is bonkers!) you better go to their website and be prepared to hand over a ridiculous amount of personal information in the process: http://ticket.akb48-group.com/
Tokyo’s flagship Don Quijote store in Akihabara is open daily from 09:00-to 05:00 in the morning, yes you read that right! So if you’re in the neighbourhood just drop by and dive in, there’s so much to see you could easily spend an entire morning, afternoon or evening here.
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