By Talicia Marie Stewart
Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Not too long ago Akasaka-Mitsuke Station opened up an Olympics-themed shop inside its Bic Camera outlet. The shop is small but somehow manages to pack in a lot of items. Here’s a top ten list of the best things tourists and Olympic fans should grab while in Tokyo.
10. Kids Clothes
Starting with the last on the list, if you like simple and expensive, these clothes are for you. Now, when I say “clothes,” I’m specifically talking about the t-shirts. There are heaps of options for other things like ties, bowties, belts, and socks (which hold a place further up on this list). I must say, though, the shirts in general are a letdown (an overpriced let down). But the reason why they are even on this list is because of the kid’s clothes… They. Are. Adorable… and not as expensive as the adult clothes. They had cute designs for boys and girls with varying sizes. If my child told me they wanted a shirt, I’d let them have one, maybe even two. The t-shirts took up most of the store, so I was expecting a little bit more in the way of cool designs. But no, the cool designs are reserved for the kids.
Now, I’m not a big snack person, but if I were going to the Olympics, watching events for hours, I’d want a snack or two. But buying snacks at the Olympics could be a long and expensive process, from finding the snack bar to waiting in line to realizing that US$15 is way too expensive for a bag of chips – it’s all very tedious. So, I was happy to see that there were a few options. A big bag of chocolate snacks that have smaller packets inside and a small box of chocolate wafers. And although they are cheap, unfortunately that is it. Two options for each mascot (four total), and so ended the snack section. It was sad, but at least I could afford to buy heaps.
For someone who has a ridiculous keychain collection like myself, I was surprisingly not all that interested in these ones. The price is really what dissuaded me. Maybe if they were cheaper I would have bought a few, but alas! I will give it to them, though, there are quite a lot of options. There is a keychain depicting each sport; from shot put to basketball to gymnastics. And the 3D keychains are really tempting; cute and small and perfect for a backpack. I got very close to giving my US$10 to the checkout lady, but in the end, I just couldn’t justify it. That being said, it wasn’t a complete letdown, as I mentioned, there is a huge variety and if you have some bucks left over, it’s a nice keepsake.
7. Pencil Cases
The pencil cases are really nice. They are good quality and, from what I saw, are very nicely designed. There are some sleek ones, very modern in style, simple with the Olympics logo printed on them. And then there are some cute ones meant for children (and me) with the mascots’ faces printed on them. There are even plush cases, which I also really like. They are big, but not too big, and I could easily see using these in school or university. It has a lot of room but could also be very compact. The best part, for me at least, they are affordable. Some of the plush ones were a bit ridiculous (US$30 ridiculous) but the rest of them were reasonable. If you want something practical but also Olympics themed, I’d go for this.
Now, I’m not going to lie, they weren’t all that much to look at. They are simple, and there isn’t much variety between books. But, by the gods, would you look at those prices! The notebooks are half the price of a keychain. Something you don’t use, an ornament, is double the price of these notebooks. Back to the design though; I actually like the simplicity, very sleek and modern, but telling you what it is. It’s an Olympic notebook! The varying sizes are nice too, but some are a bit thin for my taste. If you are taking a lot of notes, maybe skip on this one, but if you just want to write general notes for everyday life, these are quite nice. But I wouldn’t recommend the pens, they may have been cute but don’t let that fool you, they aren’t cheap. One of them is four times as much as a notebook!
Now, although there aren’t many toys, and they are all scattered in different sections of the shop, the toys that I did find were very cool. My particular favorite is the nanoblock mascots where you could build your own Miraitowa or Someity with tiny lego-like pieces. There is an Olympics kendama, themed blue or pink for each mascot, and even kimono-wearing barbie dolls that come with their own little Olympic fans. There is even a little plush toy that acts as a bangle. You could straighten it out and when you slapped it on your wrist, it folds and makes a bracelet. My point being, there isn’t much but there was enough to keep me amused, so I imagine, the toys they offered could keep a child amused as well.
I like socks, and these socks are very nice. They are made of great material and offer sizes for children, women, and men. There are fun mascot socks and plain Olympic symbol socks. And yes, I did buy some, so you can bet they are reasonably priced. They are a comfy fit, but they are very breathable, great for summer and the heat. Don’t worry, I didn’t put number four on the list as just socks, I mean I love socks, but there is only so much you can do with them. What makes these socks even better is the shoes. Now, I didn’t get any shoes, but I could see how one might be tempted. They have some really cool colorful designs, but also really simple and slick designs. The laces on one pair really attracted me. There are even shoes for toddlers and older children. There are runners and sandals and slip-ons; some of them sported the Olympic logo, while others sported the colors of the rings, while others are unbranded. By themselves, the shoes are nice quality and nice design, but pairing them with the awesome socks… brilliant idea!
What better thing to get for the summer games than a fan to cool you down? There are so many fans to choose from, from expensive high-end fans to simple (and cute) fans. I think this one gets such a high spot on the list simply for their practicality. It’s going to be hot, the hottest month in Japan actually, when the Olympics are on. A lot of the events are outdoors and are not cooled. So, it’s a practical choice to buy a fan. I’m only mad that they don’t sell small electric fans… now that would have been good! But the fans they do offer are really slick and varied in design. Some are solid colors, some have the mascots printed on them, some are just the logo, and some are anime characters from the official anime team. By now you understand that I’m a sucker for cute designs, and there were a lot of them, especially the ones of Someity. But there are also elegant designs that somehow incorporate the Olympic logo without you really realizing it is there.
2. Plush Toys and Kitchenware
It’s a weird pair but I place them at the same rank. Starting with the plush toys, there’s really not much to say. They are cute and affordable and soft. There are some ugly ones, but ugly in a way that also made them cute – that is, endearing. And the plush backpacks are something else. They almost don’t look like backpacks at all. You could cuddle up to one as you slept and the next day use it for school… multi-purpose! The bags are a little pricey, but honestly, I could do it if I really wanted to. I could see myself buying one of them. Onto the kitchen goods… yes, I bought a mug. I’m not proud of it. I know I went there to review the items, but it was just so cool, and the perfect size too. I almost bought a lunch box as well and then I realized that I don’t use lunch boxes anymore. Everything has a nice design and is affordable. There are so many options; from cutlery (forks, spoons, chopsticks), glasses, mugs, teacups, thermoses, drink bottles, plates, etc. All of them (yes, I actually mean all of them) have really nice designs. I could see everyone finding something they liked; something cute, something cool, something elegant, something plain – there are designs for everyone. And they’re useful. They’re not just going to sit on your bookshelf collecting dust. They’re going to be used and loved.
Top! Otaku Section
I know it might be cheating to give Number One to an entire section, and I tried not to be biased, but this section, full of anime mascot merchandise, seriously is the coolest. The color combo of red and white really stuck out to me, the print of the characters were clearly seen, and overall there is a lot of variety. You could get fans, you could get keychains, spoon and chopstick sets, lunch boxes, drink bottles and more. I mean the variety is really nice to see and it is all in one section which makes for finding things very easy. Overall, the designs for this otaku section are the nicest out of the whole shop. Even taking away the anime characters (which some opted to do) the colors stand out and the sleek yet somewhat playful nature of some of the items really makes for a cool place.