I was fortunate enough to have been sent on another work-related trip to Tokyo by the new company — and this trip was fantastic in particular because my new boss let me book-end all five workdays with two full weekends. I spent most of those two weekends dragging along my college kohai Boom on ill-planned escapades, rediscovering old haunts and stocking up on enough loot to fill two suitcases.
After a quick trip to Nakano to buy a camera — which ultimately ended in failure so I won’t be dwelling on that, we made our way to Akihabara and proceeded to happily lose our way inside Radio Kaikan. After stopping at the massive (and crowded!) Kotobukiya store in the first two floors, it was floor after floor of toys, figures, and doll accessories for collectors of all interests and fetishes.
The Kotobukiya Store is probably the one-shop shop for people with plenty of money but not plenty of time: everything can be found here, but items are sold at SRP unlike the slightly discounted prices at the other smaller stores. The first floor features Square Enix, Ghibli, and Japan-only Disney products, while the second floor features every conceivable Japanese toy line — including Play-Arts, Revoltech, Gunpla, Robot Tamashii, Chogokin, and Super Dollfie.
You can also purchase Akihabara-only souvenirs at the Kotobukiya store — such as Sheryl Nome Oppai Purin (Google it if you have no idea what that is >:D), clones of the infamous Shiroi Koibito sweets from Hokkaido called Nijigen Koibito (again, Google it if you have no idea why the name is hilarious), and Maid in Tokyo maple syrup-flavored cookies.
Two floors up and several wrong turns later, we found the Azone shop and the Kaiyodo reseller. The Azone shop featured not just dolls and doll parts, but also ready to wear outfits and customization tools. The clothes in particular were well-designed and crafted beautifully, but cost an arm and a leg — JPY 7000 or PHP 3500 for a complete maid outfit including the headpiece and underthings.
The Kaiyodo reseller on the other hand had almost every single regular-issue Revoltech for sale. Items were sold at SRP, but any purchase from the store also netted you a free pair of Revoltech pliers — which is enough reason to shop here for Revoltechs instead of their slightly cheaper neighbors.
One of our last stops of the day was at the 7-floor monstrosity known as Mandarake Complex Akihabara. Although their mini-shops separated by genre in Nakano Broadway cover more floorspace, the Akihabara Complex has them beat in the quality of merchandise. This is where I found the crown jewels of my haul: second-hand mint-condition Hobby Japan Limited VF1J Max and Miriya Revoltechs, at just JPY 2500 or PHP 1200 each. You can’t even get these anymore, so I am just ecstatic that I found them together, and at fantastic prices to boot.
One very important thing I noticed during our Akihabara crawl was that most of the stores had a no-photos policy on their window displays and store shelves. Aside from signs posted prominently on windows and racks, store staff also kept a close eye on shoppers with cameras in hand (SLR owners were targeted in particular), in case somebody wanted to be an asshole and took photos regardless of the warning signs.
It was not a big deal for me since shopping was the priority and not photos, but it could be a bummer for some people eager to take photos for sharing purposes only to be cock-blocked by store policies ^^;; I guess the only way you could freely take photos was if you were a member of the press (as in traditional media and not just a blogger LOL) or if you have secured permission from someone pretty high up the company pecking order.