Imagine a whole neighborhood full of buttons, nobs, switches, beeps and blinking lights.
Akihabara- Tokyo's Electric Town.
A whole district dedicated to all things electronic. Department store after department store, each with multiple floors dedicated to anything you plug in and get off on. We spent the first part of our Sunday morning in the Akihabara area of Tokyo, otherwise known as Electric Town. This area has streets and streets of little and big stores selling anything to do with electronic equipment. The shops are open arcades that you can just wander in to and get lost on any of their multiple floors. Storefront hawkers on PA systems bait shoppers into their stores while the sounds of electronics being tested bleep, blong, bling in the background - kind of like you are in a video poker machine.
We read this area is slowly transforming from electronics to manga (comics) and video games (there is a SEGA mega store that was 7 stories high) and the electronics are moving to other parts of Tokyo, but we were able to find everything we were looking for. We were hoping to find extra batteries for the camera and maybe an MP3 player since our plan to use our phones as music players fizzled before it began.
First we wanted to check things out and found the house appliances to be fascinating. How compact and efficient the Japanese make their appliances to fit into small spaces and have multiple uses was so clever. Most appliances were not large items that needed to be installed, but small, compact and could be moved and placed out of sight, like the table top dishwater.
We also wanted to find cases for our cameras to protect them from the rain that was suppose to be coming tomorrow. We knew the selection of camera cases would be much more abundant than what we could find in the states and we were not disappointed. Every size, brand and style was available on racks and racks.
We quickly eyed a MAC store selling mainly used and refurbished gear - fantastic! After successfully finding what we were looking for, including new (used) MP3 players for a steal, we started to look for some lunch.
Another vending machine shop to the rescue. This time it was tempura and odon noodles.
The restaurant was larger and more modern the one close to our hotel, being in Electric Town and all.
Same procedure as we experienced previously with the ramen shop and before we had time to to discuss our new purchases, our food arrived.
We love how regardless of the type of restaurant all your food is always presented in beautiful ceramics. Beautiful presentation for a lovely little lunch. The tempura shrimp, asparagus, eggplant and mushroom was sprinkled with a sweet soy that was also sprinkled on the rice below - absolutely tasty.
The odon was in a simple dashi (Japanese stock) and sprinkled with green onions. The simple flavors of the odon and dashi went well with the sweet crispy tempura.
It was getting dark and we headed back to the hotel. As we were coming out of the subway station there was a little stall where people coming out of the subway station were stopping at, handing the adorable little man a 100Yen coin, quickly getting their snack and moving on. We were intrigued by the sweet smell of corn coming from the stall and quickly asked what they were - corn cakes with sweet custard or bean on the inside. Yes, one sweet custard please.
The warm bag smelled so good and we wanted to tear into the bag on the remaining subway ride home, but we knew Japanese etiquette frowned upon eating in public. Side note: Japanese custom think poorly of eating and walking in public, in fact when you buy something from the ubiquitous vending machines found EVERYWHERE (more about that later) you are suppose to stand in front of the machine and drink your beverage, recycle it in the bin in front of the machine and move on. One morning we grabbed tea from our hotel in a to go cup and headed to the subway which was packed at 7am with commuters on their way to work. We were THE ONLY people with a beverage in hand, which is shocking considering the number of Starbucks everywhere (the largest Starbucks in the world is in Tokyo - 7 stories high!). This would also explain why we could not find a garbage can anywhere and eventually threw out our empty cups in a trash heap out on the sidewalk ready for collection. This would also explain why Tokyo is the cleanest city we have been to, well besides Singapore (but you are HEAVILY fined for tossing garbage, chewing gum and drinking in public). Anyways back to those corn custard cakes.
The cakes were grilled in a large cast iron mold which made the outside crispy on all sides and the dough crunchy with the custard gooey and sweet, but not mushy inside the cake. De-lish!