Japan Trip – Day 4: Akihabara & Ginza

Dateline: November 11, 2008 1

The day started off with breakfast at an Andersen bakery over in Ueno Station. All sorts of interesting things to choose from so I went with a cheese bun thing (think of a large bun with the middle hollowed out and filled with big chunks of cheese), a full-size pig-in-a-blanket with a drizzle of cheese, a small thin-crust Hawaiian pizza, and a Hygge Fruits & Vegetable drink that tasted similar to Extra Spicy Clamato. With that out of the way, it was off to first destination of the day.


Also known as Akihabara Electric Town, it’s a place filled with the lights of multi-storey electronic stores everywhere you look and little shops crammed into the tightest of places. In many of the smaller shops and stands along the streets, you can find just about anything from tools to home security cameras to Christmas lights.

Multi-storey Electronics Stores

We headed into one such giant electronics store and I saw Japanese keyboards for the first time. If it’s an electronic gizmo of some sort, it’s probably for sale in one of these stores along with about a billion accessories for each. Too bad I didn’t have a spare ¥1,000,000 on me to pick up a new camera lens.

After ogling all manner of gear, we stopped off at the Tokyo Anime Center in the UDX Building. It contained significantly less stuff than I expected given its name, though there were some nice statues of various anime characters.

The rest of the time was spent just wandering around and checking out the plethora of stores, shops, and entertainment centers. We even found a rather large Dell sales center.

Back to Ueno

Multi-Level!Afterwards we jumped on the trains back to Ueno for a bit and beside the station we wandered onto a bridge that crosses over top of the tracks. From there we had a great view of a bunch of the lines heading into the terminal, and got a clear look at the double-decker setup of a lot of the lines. A good number of the larger train stations are multi-level (often with the Shinkansen on the uppermost level) but I had no idea that there could be raised sections this wide in the stations.

In the parking lot beside the bridge there were a few interesting things to see. The first was a missile/rocket of some sort, just sitting there next to the road. Another was the very much non-soccer mom styling on the minivans there. I saw one later in the trip with a nice body kit on it, and I bet many people here would love to be seen driving around in one like it.

We cut back through Ueno Park, got better views of the fountain.


On the way there we had to quickly head outside of Tokyo Station to get to the correct elevator for the subway and in the process got to see the outside of the main station building. Unfortunately, like so many things other things on the trip, it too was under construction.

A quick ¥160 subway ride away and we were in Ginza. Being our first subway ride of the trip, we got our first experience of the “guided tour” out of the station thanks to the attendant waiting for us with a portable ramp; this happened every time we took the subway, and many of the times we took various JR trains. Very handy since, as I recall, it was a bit of a winding route to get from the platform to the street in Ginza. Also it was the first time being in Tokyo Station closer to rush hour; fun stuff!

Apple Store Ginza Being Ginza, we naturally saw areas packed with fancy stores such as Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Bulgari, and Louis Vutton, among others. We even walked past really nice Bentley Continental GT outside one of the stores.

While in Ginza, I hit up the Tokyu Hands looking for chiyogami in general and stuff like this in specific, but had no such luck. I was starting to get the feeling it would be a very difficult search.

I also found a little store on one side street that sold nothing but chopsticks. Some were really nice, but not quite what I was in the market for. Others were upwards of ¥40,000 for a single pair! Granted, the chopsticks like these were beautifully decorated, many with iridescent pieces embedded in the wood.

One of our final stops here was the Ginza Apple Store, a 5 storey building packed with Apple-y goodness. At the rear of the store were dual glass elevators that automatically roamed the floors looking for people to transport. Immediately after snapping that picture, I was told by one of the light blue shirts that pictures weren’t allowed in the store. It’s an interesting store layout. The first floor is full of a bunch of different products in a really general display/trial area (similar to what you see at the majority of the smaller Apple Stores, such as ours); the second floor is where the Genius Bar and Creatives lived; floor three was the theater used for presentations and other events (such as the live music held at many of the larger stores like Ginza); the fourth was where most of the accessories and software were at; and the top floor had private seminar rooms that could be booked for various things.

And since it was “that time of year”, more Christmas stuff was making its debut. Even the high-end office towers were getting in the game. We also found once we returned to Ueno for the evening, Bamboo Garden had been decked out while we were roaming other parts of Tokyo.


We decided to head to bed a little early to try to better acclimatize our sleep patterns. After all, it was only our second full day in Japan and that 16 hour time difference is not an easy thing to get used to.

  1. As mentioned in Day 3’s post, all subsequent posts from the trip were written after I returned home. Instead of posting them to the blog set to the dates they occurred, I’m just going to put a dateline at the top of each one.

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