The next day Craig and I ended up going to Tokyo Disneysea, though Beth chose to stay home and rest. Following our trend, Mr Craig and I arrived quite late in the day and didn’t have so many hours to spend queuing for rides. We only went on one – the 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea adventure, which was totally freaking worth the entry price alone. The magic of travelling (seemingly) underwater, to risk the perils of a giant squid in order to see the wonders of a mermaid kingdom, was an enchantment like no other. I really can’t stress enough how easy it was to forget that we weren’t actually on the sea bottom, using our tiny torchlight to explore the dark depth of the ocean. The rest of the park was rich in the same wonderment of atmosphere, and I really was surprised at the extraordinary amalgamation of cultures which separated each fo the zones. Other highlights include a very talented brass marching band, the eruption of Mount Prometheus (with real fire shooting out of the volcano which I could feel the heat of even hundreds of metres away) and a little boy who ran for his life when he thought he’d fired a cannon. (To be fair, the sound effects and the puff of smoke were quite brilliant.)
The night we got back from Disneysea we (surprisingly) dredged up the health to go to a cat cafe. It was a little different from what I expected, with more focus on the cats and less the cafe. After paying an hourly rate (until they closed at 10pm), we were admitted into a very relaxed, quiet room where a scattering of people sat around dangling toys for the cats, talking over hot drinks from vending machines and using laptops. At the end of the room was a Wii, and there were free iPads which you could use to play interactive games with the cats. Predictably, most of the cats were not the slightest bit interested in us, though some of them let us stroke them as they were busy otherwise ignoring us and playing with other cats/the regulars. Craig and I soon set upon Bomberman, where I received a sound and thorough thrashing. It was a lovely way to spend a quiet evening in gentle company, but probably too expensive to make a habit of.
The next day Craig and I hit up Akiba, or Akihabara, also known as Electric Town. It’s famous for being the epicentre of nerdiness and Otaku culture in Japan, and one of the first things we did there was hit up a Maid Cafe. Like the cat cafe, we were charged an hourly rate for the pleasure of being waited on by cute girls who called us “Master”. We participated in “Maid Magic”, rituals that lit flameless candles by breathing on them, and hand signs and cute words (like “Nyaa~”, “Oiishi!” (Delicious!), “Moe~” (adorable) and “Kyuu!”) in order to make our food tastier. We were given merchandise (which Craig, clearly a veteran, cautioned me might have an extra charge) and were treated to a dance by the maids on stage. One fellow sticks in my memory for being adorably shy, standing in the smoking corner and yet following along with every single move of the dance. To be honest (and I’ve thought about this for a while now) I found the whole thing kind of uncomfortable because it felt like I was paying them money to be adorable and attractive, and was kind of one step away from hiring an escort. But I’m sure other people enjoy the experience for different reasons, though I don’t think I’ll be going back again soon.
While in Akiba we found our way to a Superpotato, which not only sold retro consoles and games, but had a small retro arcade up the top. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Die Hard and nailing those quicktime events juuuust right, as well as finding the remaining volumes of the Japanese version of Cardcaptor Sakura for Beth. Being the Otaku epicentre of the world, I also hit up the Sega Megastore’s Toy-lets twice more, smashing my previous records with scores of 970 and 930ml’s.
I also saw some sumo on the train, and I idiotically said to them “Sorry to be rude. Photo exists?” and took a photo of them. They were not happy.