THE LIFE OF AN OTAKU: IN TOKYO, JAPAN: in collaboration with REALM & EMPIRE
Before falling into fashion I had studied and worked in Animation and film and always dreamt of moving to Japan to work in a big animation studio for Anime and video games. As a big lover of all things anime and Japanese culture, the number one destination is Akihabara (also known as Electric Town). This district of Tokyo dedicates it’s streets to those who live a big kid type of life. And in some parts of me, that resonates. From watching those old school classics such as Akira to playing epic role-playing games such as Final Fantasy VII, it’s always been a big part of my life… and my personality.
Spanning the whole stretch of road up to Ueno, Akihabara houses all types of strange discoveries if you’re willing to look both upwards and downwards. I spent a lot of time here for sheer nostalgia and felt like i had regained memories of my teen years all in one day. Hidden in between arcades and electric megastores are many stores selling collectibles, retro games, pop memorabilia and even quite a lot of maid cafes. Yes maid cafes. Google it. There are even stores dedicated to military memorabilia and war replicas. But If like me, you had a Sega Megadrive or an original Game Boy and had chucked it out and regretted it, this is the place to go to buy these plus every game you can remember for cheaper than a 1-week travel card on the London Underground.
You’ll easily get lost if you don’t keep a eye on where you are. It’s as though Tokyo was built like a maze. If you don’t physically walk in, you’ll never know what you could find. Tucked away in Electric department stores such as Bic Camera and Yodobashi are cosmetics floors for the bored girlfriends and massive food courts on the top floors. There are even whole 9-storey buildings that only sell trading cards of all types and one of my favourite places; the Final Fantasy Eorzea themed Cafe that surprising sells some of the best food in the area.
However be sure to poke your head down the alleyways as you walk around, because you’ll find that great street food awaits. From Takoyaki (fried octopus balls), Taiyaki (Fried Fish-shaped pancakes filled with red bean paste) to absolutely random Kebab shops that serve the cleanest Lamb Donor you’ll ever taste. And if you’re not one for eating outside in the hustle and bustle then head all the way up towards Ueno station where you’ll find a string of smaller market streets filled with izakaya bars and local restaurants.
However this little nerd haven isn’t the only place in Tokyo that is inspired by anime and video game culture. If you’re a fan of Gundam then you’ll be happy to know that there is even a mini-sized amusement park dedicated to it hidden inside Diver City on the man-made island of Odaiba as well as Tokyo Drift racing events and tons of Pokemon Centers all around Japan. Oh and not to mention the 70 foot life-sized RX-78 Gundam standing tall on the coast.
Whatever you get up to in Tokyo, make sure to keep your eyes open. You may just be surprised with what you find and hopefully you’ll experience some lost nostalgia on the way…
John wears US Marine Workwear Shirt Lichen, Long Sleeve Button Tee Navy Stripe & Wide-leg trousers by Realm & Empire, Green Sinatra Trilby by Laird London, Striped Socks by Kings Of Indigo, Watch by Uniform Wares and Derby Shoes by Base London
Photography by @_johnjarrett & @_jennajarrett
Styling by @_johnjarrett & @eshankali
Words by @_johnjarrett
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