On a rainy December day, I visited the official AKB48 Cafe & Shop in Fukuoka City. Fukuoka City is located in Hakata ward, which is were HKT48 gets their name.
After arriving in Hakata a few days earlier, I finally had about a half day or so to myself the wander about and engage in my own pursuits. One of many pursuits being: looking out for 48-related goods! With Hakata having their own local 48-sister group with HKT48, I figured that it was only natural that they’d have shops dedicated to idol goods. As it so happens, Fukuoka city happened to be home to one of Japan’s three official AKB48 Cafe & Shops, so I made a point to go there first.
Getting around in Fukuoka is quite easy. In addition to the subway system, Japan Rail is also a good option. Starting at the largest train station, Hakata Station, I made my way over to Tenjin station.
It was a little bit of a walk from Tenjin station, unfortunately (something of an oddity in Japan). I was half-expecting a massive otaku district akin to the likes of Tokyo’s Akihabara, Nagoya’s Akamon, or Osaka’s DenDen Town but was pleasantly greeting with nicely paved, clean streets resembling the likes of Harajuku’s Omotesando or the main strip in Ginza. After getting lost many times, misreading Google Maps, I chanced upon a relatively small alley way, which seemed to lead to nowhere. I actually passed by this alley way a few times whilst I was getting lost. It turns out this alleyway lead directly to the cafe!
I walked down the alleyway a few minutes, and then I noticed this familiar looking white & pink sign 😀
Just a little further, I had found what I was looking for:
At first I thought it was closed. It was late at night (well, not so late. Perhaps 8pm or so). The doors were closed, and no one was inside. Being around December, the front display had a slight Christmas theme going on. The first thing that greet my eyes was Sakura-tan looking at me!
Thinking the place was closed, I actually turned around and left, and thought I’d just visit another day. Something compelled me to turn around and take a few more photos. That’s when I saw it: someone was inside. I was so dumb, that I didn’t even check if the doors were open or not. Anyway, I entered the doors and into AKB heaven itself!
The store area itself is rather small, and the cafe area was located in the rear. I decided not to visit the cafe side this time, as I had already visited the other official cafe’s in Nagoya and Namba (future blog posts incoming!). The various Cafe & Shops have different rules about photography. This particular shop does allow photos and videos, just as long as you don’t purposely take photos of other customers and of the cute cafe employees.
This being the official shop in Hakata, I was interested in the HKT48 specific items, of which there were few.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of the shop area was the large back wall behind the registered, which had photos of all the members of AKB48.
Here’s a gallery of individual portions of this wall. I don’t remember if I was able to take photos of the entire thing, but here’s what I was able to get.
The rest of the store contains the various goods and trinkets that you will find in pretty all the other official shops. Nothing of note here, and the selection was pretty small (as this particular shop is smaller than the two other official shops located in Osaka’a Namba and Tokyo’s Akihabara). Nevertheless, here’s a photo selection of these standard goods:
The other last prominent feature is the back wall on the right side of the shop, which contains member-made signs, in addition to televisions which are playing AKB48-related commercials, music videos, and other media.
And that pretty much concludes my adventure inside of the AKB48 Cafe & Shop in Hakata! I managed to take a lot of video as well, so perhaps I’ll offer up a video version of this blog post in the future. This post is a first in a series, as I managed to visit the other four 48-group official shops, so stay tuned!
For now, here’s the entire set of photos I managed to take for this location. Enjoy!
Sometimes editor. Sometimes translator. Mostly a proofreader. I like Japan and things.