Thursday, December 3, 2020

Analog Life

Dropped by Akihabara almost by accident a couple of weeks ago; ended up taking a trip down memory lane and a bit of impulsive shopping.

It all started with a lazy Saturday afternoon, when I took the Fairlady for a quick spin around the bay and stopped at my “secret spot” in Shibaura.

Great location for a cup of (7-eleven) coffee while the sun sets over Tokyo. That’s when I thought I’d try a different route to return home and joined the C1 instead of using Rainbow Bridge. 

I kept driving for a while, just enjoying the road and the lights, especially the section that cuts through Ginza, when I thought it would be cool to drive all the way to Akihabara as I couldn’t even remember the last time I visited.

It must have been at least 5 years, if not longer, since my last visit. Lots has changed and while it’s undoubtedly true that Electric Town has lost a bit of the magic it had in the 90’s and 00’s, it’s still a unique place to visit.

So, I parked the Z (just to be handed an incredibly expensive bill upon my return, one mere hour later) and roamed around a bit.

I still remember my first visit in summer 2007, when I came here after work to buy a Sony portable camera on a budget, which I used to take my first photos of Japan. Many of the smaller shops haven’t survived the real estate takeover of the past 15 years, and today it’s mostly large chains like Softmap and Laox that dominate the landscape.

But look in the right alley and you’ll find some of the older boutiques, still carrying video games and consoles from bygone eras.

Just like with cars, Japanese have mastered the art of taking care of their possessions and the shelves were loaded with fully working gems that are now 20 years old, some even older.

Luckily, unless you are looking at rare time-capsule gems like the Ceramic White PS2 that I bought on Yahoo! Auctions earlier this year, prices haven’t hold up much and you can pick up a perfectly functioning original PlayStation for about 7,000¥.

The truly shocking part however were the games, sold pretty much at a loss. Here is a copy of Gran Turismo 3 priced at 100¥ - less than an onigiri or a candy bar! And to think that back in the days we had to pinch pennies for months in order to be able to buy a copy.

The aftermath? I ended up picking up a PlayStation 2 with a handful of original games for a few thousands yen. And while realistically I won’t use it, it’s just something cool to have and boot up from time to time.

2021 is around the corner, but sometimes is nice to stroll down memory lane, as I did with a high-school friend over FaceTime just few days ago. Hours spent with our PS2, followed by pickup basketball games on a hot summer afternoon. Who’s cutting onions?

Until next time.

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