The day had finally come. With a heavy heart we awoke on Sunday morning, packed our cases (bulging with souvenirs, pamphlets and more) and checked out from the Ayase Kokusai Hotel, bidding a fond farewell to the staff there.
The decision had been reached between the three of us (for Lee had rejoined the group) that we would find storage lockers at Akihabara to leave our cases at, then we’d kill time wandering around the town – Lee and Dan still had a few things they wanted to pick up, and there were a couple of places we still wanted to see before we left the city.
We wandered the busy streets (much of the main road was closed off as it was a Sunday, allowing pedestrians to wander down the centre of the road without hindrance) and shops of Akiba for a few hours, revisiting shops to pick up items we had seen. At one point, at a part where the main road was still open, a team of Go-Karters dressed as the characters from Mario Kart paused at the traffic lights, revving their engines before tearing off at the green light. We stopped and looked at each other for a moment, unable to quite believe what we had seen.
Even with all the shopping done, we still had a couple of hours to kill before we needed to head back to Narita Airport (even using the slower, cheaper train) so we decided to take a wander and just follow our feet.
Nestled between two large buildings, set right back in its own little street, we found Kanda Myojin, the local Shinto shrine, in which is said to be enshrined Daikokuten and Ebisu, two of the Seven Gods of Fortune, alongside Taira no Masakado, a samurai who rebelled against the Heian Government.
Curiously, and rather sweetly, the shrine is also home to its own resident donkey, and the shrines sells talismans specifically for blessing electronic devices against the types of harm that can come to them. Fitting, then, for Akihabara.
From Kanda Myojin, we made our way back to Akiba station, collected our luggage from the lockers and made our way back to Narita Airport for our flight. We slept most of the train journey, checked in and slept in the lounge, utterly exhausted from such an exhilarating week. It was a bittersweet feeling to be headed back to the UK. I missed my own bed, I was eager to try out several of the games I had bought, and I couldn’t wait to share the experience (and gifts) with friends and family; but Japan had been such a magnificent experience. It had been everything that I had hoped that it would be, and more. I wanted to learn Japanese. I wanted to come back and see more of Tokyo, to hop on the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto or Hiroshima, to trek across the entirety of the island and see it all.
Who knows? Maybe one day I will.