Akihabara crossing (1/4)
Akihabara's main street (2/4)
Arcade parlor in Akihabara (3/4)
Electronics shops in Akihabara (4/4)

IN A FEW WORDS

The Otaku cultural center of Japan

DESCRIPTION

Akihabara, also known as Akiba, is the name given to a commercial and business district located in central Tokyo, best known for housing a high concentration of consumer electronics and computer shops and for being the center of the Japanese Otaku (geek) subculture.

Akihabara Electric Town

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Akihabara received the nickname of Electric Town during the 1930s, when local businesses started selling newly introduced household electronics such as radios, music equipments, refrigerators or televisions. During the 80's this type of products started losing their appeal as a novelty and the shops in Akihabara shifted their focus to home computers. This change resulted in the attraction of a more specialized type of costumer with interests in comics and video games, to which Akihabara progressively adapted to the point of being considered an Otaku mecca.

The influence of Otaku subculture in Akihabara is visible at first glance, due to the huge billboards with anime characters and imagery which cover the facades of the buildings and the presence of people dressed up in costumes in order to attract costumers. Even if great part of the stores sell regular consumer electronics, what makes the neighborhood special are the highly specialized shops which carry anything appealing to the Akihabara costumer: from vintage trading cards, videogames and toys, to fanmade comics, anime costumes and weapon replicas.

Most of the shops in Akihabara are located around the main street to the west of the train station, named Chuo Dori. While big name department stores and duty free shops, such as Yodobashi Camera and Sofmap, can easily be found in big buildings along Chuo Dori, a network of hundreds of smaller independent shops scattered in the surrounding alleys capture the unique atmosphere of Akihabara and are probably the best place to get a good deal.

Akihabara has undergone heavy renovations during the last decade, with the expansion of the train station and the construction of new department stores and business complexes. Maid Caf├ęs, which are special cafeterias where waitresses dress and act as maids or anime characters, have also become popular and their employees can be found gathering customers on the streets. The area underneath the station, however, retains its original aspect with dozens of tiny one man stalls selling all kind of electronic components.

It's important to note that Japanese electronics may not be usable in other countries due to voltage differences, while other type of media, such as DVDs or videogames, may also have compatibility issues due to region lock. Overseas models are available at some of the bigger stores however and usually offer tax free shopping to foreign costumers.

HOW TO GET THERE

Akihabara
Yamanote, Keihin Tohoku, Chuo, Sobu Lines

Akihabara
Hibiya Line

Suehirocho
Ginza Line

aroundMOVE AROUND

Akihabara's main street is located next to the "Electric Town" exit of the Akihabara train and subway stations and can be pleasantly explored on foot. Suehirocho station is located at the opposite end of the street.

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