Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ) – a Japanese Institution
If you are going to avoid the most overrated tourist sight leave out the emperor’s palace and take in the most authentic cultural experience in Japan: the Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ), simply called Donki (ドンキ).
The Donki is Japan’s biggest discount-convenience store which truthfully looks more like an amusement park, which will give you a ride through everything very Japanese. Add a temple or two, the view on Mt Fuji from Tokyo Skytree, enjoy a Japanese izakaya and you have got Japan in a nutshell.
The first time you enter the Donki your head will spin, your eye sight will be overwhelmed with an almost surreal world of merchandise in all lights, colours, shapes and sizes.
The company name is derived from the Spanish novel Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Apparently the store’s concept is to have just as a unique and particular take on things as Don Quixote (fighting windmills is pretty crazy) or more straightforward, simply provide for the most original and peculiar gadgets.
Home electronics, brand name accessories, drinks and snacks, toys, cosmetics, fashion, costumes, erotic articles, anime and manga figures…
Processing fascinating knick knack and encountering products you might have never seen before, is the greatest fun at the Donki.
You will find things that make you wonder and smile. Do wonder about the existence of toilet seat wings, bleeding soap and fake eyelid stickers. You might find the exact kind of thing you were always looking for but didn’t know existed.
That’s not all. There is a lot to find out about Japanese culture as well.
The Akihabara branch features the very first theatre of AKB 48 on the top floor. You have not heard of AKB 48? There is no way around that in Japan. AKB 48 is an iconic girl group whose songs are YouTube’s most watched music videos in Japan, a group that never ages due to a smart rotation system involving three performing teams (A, K and B) and 92 girls in total making up the Japanese social phenomenon which is AKB 48. The groups perform daily, tickets can be obtained through a lottery due to overly high demand.
Listen to finest J-pop, look at AKB’s picture gallery and many fans standing at the theatre, all at the top floor of the Donki.
On the 5th floor you will find a Maid Café, typical for the Akihabara area and a unique Japanese creation. @Homecafé you can get served by the sweetest Lolita waitresses dressed in Victorian servant outfits, drawing hearts with ketchup, singing and playing games with you. Everything to make your dish taste so much better.
So maaany maids.
Another floor will be dedicated to Japanese prime teen leisure time with advanced dance machines, awesome Japanese drumming games and all kinds of desirable anime figures and cute creatures in countless grab game machines, waiting for a lucky winner. I have seen people winning stuff but I was only lucky once, at the Amine Fair 2013.
Everything to make eyes look bigger, nails garishly manicured, breasts fuller, noses smaller. Stunning sights.
Tomek working out his face and leg muscles.
A drastic example of breast augmentation, demonstrated by Monika.
Make up for guys… approaching the 21st century of total gender equality.
Manga nail art and the like.
Got to brace yourself with a light stick, if you are going for an AKB 48 concert or if you like to be a Japanese construction worker.
Of course. The cutest mouthless cat.
Flower bouquets are so passé.
Be a dutiful Japanese maid yourself.
That’s the proper look. With ribbons and hairbands and cutsey ears.
All men can have Black Man.
You can can-can.
Kasia has transformed into a bunny.
And she found a Japanese friend.
Monika in futuristic work out shoes.
Robert tried more mature looks with a wig and a mushroom hat.
Andrzej, the guitar hero.
Drum roll for the Donki!
Do not mess with the little blue penguin.
And last but not least, spectacular Donki finds from our trip to Japan last year.
You can meet many famous Japanese characters at the Donki.
Bonnie and Clyde.
‘Spiritus Rektyfikowany’ with 95% alcohol. Product of Poland. At the Donki.
Everything tastes much better with AKB 48.
They should sell this with the AKB 48 logo!
Smell before you buy. Instead of opening all the bottles to do a test sniff, there are these awesome fragrance testers.
As big as food gets in Japan.
Get your birthday cake at the Donki!
Watch out between the aisles!
Salary men are full of surprises.
Have a nice fright!
Asia and Krzysztof doing the cute creatures costume thing. Cousin Filip and I (to the right) admittedly did feel under-dressed.
But only for a while.
We are honoured to know Mr. Alex Krivulin, the spokesperson for the department of foreign matters and marketing at the Donki headquarters. Which also meant presents! I got a Donki document cover with the depiction of Japanese essence: Mt Fuji, Hanami, Hello Kitty and the penguin mascot Donpen as a cute stuffie.
The blue penguin is Donki’s trademark. He is wearing a red night cap and green cape (such a superhero) and carries a traditional Japanese traveler’s hat in his hand (now on my head). We are ready to travel the world!
The world of Japanese merchandise magic and unique souvenirs.
I like the Akihabara store the most. The pictures are from the Akihabara (4-3-3 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku), Roppongi (3-14-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku) and the Ueno (1-16-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku) branch.
Oh and you get tax free if you spend over 10, 000 yen.