MORRILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Browsing Hours:
Monday - Saturday 9:30am - 12:30 pm
Senior & At Risk Browsing Hours:
Tuesday & Thursday
8:30-9:30 am
Curbside Pickup
Monday - Saturday:
1:30 pm - 4:15 pm

Akihabara-japan

Akihabara

Akihabara-japanI really miss traveling, don’t you? I think you do, because in the past few months, I have noticed a slow but steady increase in the amount of passport appointments that are being booked here at the library. It seems that even despite COVID, many of you are ready to embark on some socially distanced vacation destinations, and we at the Morrill Memorial Library can help you get to your destination because we are also an authorized Passport Acceptance Facility with the U.S. Department of State! I, along with four other librarians at the library, can help you with processing your passport, and can advise you on how to renew your soon to be expired passport. Be sure to visit us online to learn more, or to book an appointment with one of our acceptance agents, at norwoodlibrary/services/passport-services or call us at 781-769-0200.

Though I am not quite as seasoned a world traveler as some of my fellow librarians here at the Morrill Library, the COVID pandemic has really made me reflect upon and appreciate the few times in my life thus far that I did have the opportunity to travel internationally. Though I had been to Canada a few times (my mother is a Canadian citizen), my first true experience with international travel was in 2007 when I was invited on a trip with my friend Kenneth and his wife Yvonne, to accompany them to Taishan and Beijing, China. The experience of traveling so far from home, and immersing myself in a language and culture that was so radically different from what I grew up with, was literally life changing. I had never traveled to another country before, so I was really nervous. However, I recall when after almost 24 hours of traveling, I got off the airplane to meet Kenneth’s father-in-law at the Guangzhou International Airport. When Kenneth’s  father-in-law saw me, he walked over to greet us and said with a smile (and in English), “Welcome to China.” The sheer warmth and sincerity in his voice instantly put me at ease. I would spend more than a week soaking in the culture in Taishan, but then we boarded a plane to tour Beijing. At the time, Beijing was preparing for the 2008 Olympics, so there was a flurry of construction being done in preparation for the games. Construction and maintenance was especially notable at some of the tourist landmarks, like the Forbidden City, which was also being restored for the wave of visitors that would be coming in one years time. It goes without saying that the Great Wall was breathtaking and surreal. However, I think some of the best moments of my trip to China, were not seeing these well known landmarks, but were in Taishan, where I stayed with my friend, his wife, and his wife’s family, taking in the sights and sounds, and eating outrageously delicious and fresh food. Being with them gave me an experience and appreciation for Chinese culture that I would not have received on a tour of historic sights.

After returning from my trip to China in 2007, I caught the travel bug, and was already planning  to embark on a new adventure. I didn’t need to think very hard about my next destination though, because for me, it was obvious:  Akihabrara, Japan. I was (okay, still am) very much what the Japanese would call an “otaku” which is defined by one source I discovered online as “a person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture, to the detriment of their social skills.” Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the most sociable of teens/young adults, but like most otaku, I was passionate about what I liked, and what I liked was anime, manga, and especially video games. Akihabara, also known as “Electric Town” is THE destination in Japan for all things Otaku and is located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. It’s home to some of the best electronic stores in Japan, along with sprawling stores dedicated to modern and classic anime, manga, and video game merchandise and memorabilia. Tokyo itself is a sprawling metropolis with a deep and rich history with countless interesting sights to see, and my friend Tom and I went on a whirlwind tour of many of them during our stay. However, almost every night, after our Tokyo sightseeing journeys, we would find ourselves basking in the glow of the Electric Town, eating Katsudon and drinking sake. One of Akhiabrara’s most well known landmarks was the Sega Arcade Building 2, one of many video game arcades in Akihabara, but without a doubt the most noticeable. This sprawling multi level game arcade was host to countless well known, and many Japan only, classic and modern arcade games and pachinko machines. I spent more yen there than I care to admit! Sadly, like many things in 2020, it has closed permanently, but there are more than a few arcades in Akihabara to keep you busy. Of course, otaku or not, there are TONS of things to do and sights to see in Tokyo, and I hope you will consider exploring it as well.

I hope one day soon that I will be able to travel the world again, this time with my wife and kids along for the ride. Here at the library, I along with the other passport acceptance agents, are happy to help you on your way to creating your own travel memories. Along with helping you apply for or update, your passport, we have lots of great travel books, travel memoirs, and other digital resources to get you going. The COVID pandemic may not be over, but I am optimistic that international travel will return, so get your passports at the ready!

Brian DeFelice is the Information Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for his article in the February 26th, 2021 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

nortech

Translate »