By Jordan Baty
OOPS! Before I even realize that there are no cameras allowed, I have already delighted in taking several photos inside the AKB48 Café and Shop in Akihabara; and to my good fortune, I'm not even caught, despite the obvious clicks from my vivid red DSLR Kiss X50 Canon camera. So fortunately, I can share my unique experience inside this J-Pop themed shop filled with colorful items, canned cookies, souvenir food, stationery and other memorabilia bearing the faces of the young artists.
AKB48 is a famous all-girl group, with 48 young and vivacious Japanese members who perform singing and dancing; the oldest member is just 25 years old. The café is a consolation for all those unlucky fans who don't make it to AKB48’s concerts held at the group’s dedicated theater in Akihabara; only one in hundred hopeful fans can get tickets to the concerts.
The group's cafe has screens inside featuring the latest concert, so while hungry fans and curious tourists enjoy their food, they can have a next-best-thing kind of experience of being at an AKB48 concert.
Just a minute or two by foot from the Electric Town exit of Akihabara Station, you will immediately see the pink LED text that runs on top along the whole length of the AKB48 Café and Shop. There are two sections: one is a small shop where fans of the girl group can find stationery items, cookies in cans and boxes with the group’s photos, flag-lets and banners bearing the faces of each member of the group, and even a huge screen showing the group’s performances in rotation. On the other side is a food shop where you can drop by to get ice cream, pies, cookies and drinks, among others.
The shop is a very popular one – just as are the AKB48 girl group – as the dense crowd of people inside the small store made clear. I had no idea why several of those people inside were staring at me as I enjoyed taking photos; I just ignored them, unaware of the small sign – a huge X-mark on a black camera – posted on the entrance door, which I saw only when I had already left the shop.
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