Tokyo

Day 7 – Akihabara, Odaiba, Harajuku

First call today back to Akihabara, in the light of day this time, to seek out the gamer shops we missed. Find Aso Bit Hobby just south of the station which has a good selection of stuff ranging from cute (I buy yet more stationery) to mega geeky. Then go to Mandarake which stocks all sorts of vintage toy figures, including some amusing neon dinosaurs for about 100 quid each. After much searching (we were just on the wrong street all along), we find Super Potato, stuffed full of old SNES etc games. The top floor has a small selection of vintage arcade machines including Pac Man and some Nintendo stuff.

After a sandwich for lunch, we get the Yamanote line down to Shimbashi and change onto a private rail line out to Odaiba, an area built up on Toyko’s south bay. The train going there runs on raised tracks over the roads and feels very futuristic, especially with the mirrored skyscrapers towering over. This area feels downright weird – a gorgeous beach and clearly very expensive development, but all quite eerily quiet (apart from a few schoolchildren who shout ‘hello’ to us). The view of the bridge from the beach just as the sun was about to set is gorgeous.

We’d come down mainly to check out Joypolis, an indoor Sega amusement park, which turns out to be fun in a surreal kind of way. We go on a G-force ride that flings us in 720-degree circles and a ‘wing ride’ in a panoramic cinema, complete with wind effects and rumbling – all fairly gentle going as rides go, but enough to flip my stomach a bit. We also get our photos done in one of those silly booths where you pick a kitschy theme and scribble things on it; the machine was all in Japanese and a bit manic but we somehow get the photos eventually.

We look around the rest of the development which contains a 1960s-themed retro arcade with some more cool vintage games, and a few tacky sweet and souvenir shops. Decide against spending dinner there too as the whole place is a bit too odd and getting a bit sickly by this time.

We get the Yamanote line back to Harajuku, admiring the lit-up skyline on the ride, and have a huge Mexican dinner in a surprisingly authentic-feeling place (table-side mariachi band and all) up the Meiji-dori.