Not too far from my previous stay was Anne’s https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Anne-Hostel-Asakusabashi/Tokyo/32652 This was a fantastic little gem just off the main street and a fair bit closer to Akihabara. The common room was in traditional Japanese style, with a mix of tatami mats and hard wood floor. Tables rose from sunken seating making me feel like I was both on the floor and in a comfy chair. A flat screen TV hung off a wall, showcasing Japanese news, game shows and a few Studio Ghibli films.
The staff were fantastically kind (a stereotype I’m glad is true) and my fellow guests were pleasant as well. Though I met many, like the traveler teaching English to kids over in China, a pair of French girls vlogging for YouTube, a British kid on his first tour of Japan, two in particular stuck out. The nice German lady was planning on taking up work on a farm after quitting her job, selling everything she had and leaving her life back home. We chatted about my time in Germany, the cultural difference between North America, Europe and Asia and then the tragedy of aging. Being a year or two my senior, she explained she was happier to be older, saying: “I have experience, I have money, and I have control over my own life.” Can’t help but to agree. The other guy was Chinese and gave me hints to some of the more obscure things to check out in the city. We played a little Jishaku, and then got to talking about both our past trips and future travel plans. I was thinking of going to South Korea after my three months in Japan, but apparently there’s a virus going around…
Walking back to Akihabara, a delicate mix of scents from freshly baked pastries to deep fried foods and bubbling udon flooded the air. Now on the opposite side of the street there was so much to see it was hard to take it all in. Shelves upon shelves of illustrated manga novels covered every wall, accompanied by rows and rows of playing cards and plushy dolls. Hundreds of glass cases stacked to the ceiling were filled with finely cast figurines from tiny to tall. Micro TVs no larger than a picture frame advertised the stores merchandise, blasting music as loud as their little speakers could. Computers and laptops, videogames both new and retro, rice cookers, fanless fans, heaters; I know I mentioned it in my last post but literally everything was here. I looked around for a fix to my laptop problem; a new battery or repair shop, but to my utter shock, found nothing. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right place? Something that also made me take pause was what I found on some of the higher floors. Not able to read Japanese, I stumbled upon the, um… adult section of the city.
To keep this as polite yet informative as I can, it was- even more than you’d expect. Some animated and some live action movies played, loudly, on those little picture frame TVs. More illustrated manga novels filled the place like a proper bookstore, with playful dolls and pretty models posed for your pleasure. I can honestly say that before coming here, I’d never been in the same room with a half dozen guys (and one girl in the female section) looking so nonchalantly at this type of media, trying to decide which one of the thousands of DVDs to pick up. And I didn’t find just one of these places- there were at least four- one this one street alone.
With green tea, pastries and ramen fueling me, I powered through another chapter this week. Work was done and sleep was enjoyed. Other than that, there was nothing too extraordinary this week actually, just simple wandering and writing. The Tokyo Skytree has been calling to me and the Imperial Palace is pretty close, so I’ll head there very quick. I’ve going to book another week at Anne’s, then head out to my next city. Osaka? Kyoto?