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Tokyo’s electric town Akihabara

Tokyo’s electric town Akihabara

After an adventurous archery session, we went to explore another world which simply means another district in Tokyo. Akihabara (秋葉原). Bright like a Christmas tree, the nerdy area showed its festive side with seasonal illuminations these days.

If I had to go by the districts probable electricity bill, I would say it is always Christmas at Akihabara.

Let me show you the area and some of the main electronics and anime shops, also some tips on overseas shopping.

Welcome to Akihabara Station.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Akihabara is computer geek wonderland.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Akihabara is fun to walk.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Akihabara is called Akiba after a former temple. The Kanda Shrine in Akihabara, a 10 min walk from the station, is a pleasant oasis to escape the buzz.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Anime, vending machines, toy coin machines is what Akihabara provides.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Electronics stores, manga figures, games, posters, DVDs and otaku related goodies.

Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Apart from being the biggest electronics outlet, Akiharbara is known for its cosplay at Maid Cafes, with girls in victorian maid dresses serving food and drinks.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Waiter girls that will sweeten up the menu.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Maid Cafe activities to please their customers. They bring food, paint cute pictures with ketchup on your meal, sing and play games with you.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The Maid Cafe menu. For adults.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Then you can continue to play and dream with your manga maid figures.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Looks kinda surreal but that is what Akihabara is all about. There is nothing you can’t get and Japan surely delivers on what is labelled ‘bizarre-pseudo-sex’ by the western world.

One theory goes that the reason for Japan’s decrease in population lies in its vast sex substitute market with otaku sex toys, virtual erotic worlds, hostess entertainment services (both genders are equally well covered here) and partner substitute ideas.

The newest of which brought about an establishment which offers ‘sleeping’ with a girl. In the most literal sense of the word, lying next to a cute girl and enjoying services such as ‘looking deep into each other’s eyes’ or simply relaxing and dozing away.

Akihabara is big in the pleasure industry, providing for everything without physical interaction and the ‘hassle’ of a real relationship.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The maid girls stand in their outfits on the streets of Akihabara and are a pretty attraction but sadly, they do not like their pictures to be taken and will hide.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

I managed to get some snapshots from a distance.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

They must be freezing in their overknees but are always smiling and cute.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Apart from turning nerdy dreams into reality, Akihabara is also idol mecca.You won’t get past noticing AKB48, the never ageing Japanese girl band.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The AKB48 cafe and shop sells everything related to the biggest girl-J-pop-band I know. You can see the girl group perform daily at the huge Donki store in Akihabara.

Tokyo, Japan

 

The AKB48 serves AKB48 dishes – seemingly hand picked (or some might imagine to be cooked) by the girls.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Go to the top floor of the Donki store to see Japan’s  manly fans wait and cheer for their AKB48 idols.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

When we walked Akihabara, a new album release was being promoted behind flowery window displays.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Rows of fans (older man) lined up to take a picture of the cute singer.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The Japanese デコトラ dekotora (decoration) truck featured the star as well. The truck must be loaded with batteries to keep it shining!

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Right next door to the AKB 48 shop is Gundam Café. This is where fans of the robot anime hang out.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The restaurant serves Gundam styled meals.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Another idol. Hatsune Miku, the (virtual) Japanese vocaloid with blue pigtails.

Tokyo, Japan

 

If you walk up to the top floor of this building, you can see gianormous manga dolls, called Dolfie. Created by Volks, a Japanese company. No photography allowed. But go and get the creeps.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Let’s just say there is a lot of (adult) amusement to be found.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Overseas shopping in Akihabara. Although Akihabara is the largest area of electronic appliances and devices in the world, tourists and shoppers from overseas may be disappointed if they come to purchase electronic goods. Simply because the Japanese market is NOT designed for overseas use. No multi-langual instruction manuals for electronics software, technical and voltage differences and no international warranties. The prices might not be cheaper than what you would pay at home.

We learned the hard way when our camera broke last year while on a trip in Japan in 2012 and just as we had our mind set on a Sony camera, we found that instructions and camera programs were in Japanese ONLY. There was no language option to choose and switch to English. The same for many other models and electronic devices we checked. Which is why we got almost all our PT equipment in Bangkok.

Therefore look out for stores which have some overseas models.

However, overseas customers can enjoy tax free shopping, if providing a passport with an entry visa and living in Japan for less than 6 months and spending more than 10,001 yen. The VAT rate in Japan is 5%, although there are plans to lift it to 10% in 2015.

Moving on to the shops. Akihabara is a paradise of many interesting things I have never seen before. Nor would I exactly know what to do with them. But figuring that out is part of the shopping fun.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Therefore Akihabara is a fantastic place to get your souvenirs and daily necessities sorted.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Some of the more popular stores:

Onoden.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Laox.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Kotobukiya.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Comic Zin.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Labi.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Akiba Sofmap.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Yodobashi Camera. If you have little time in Akihabara visit this huge bastion of electronics.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Akihabara Radio Center. This is where it all started after WWII. Tiny alleys and stands with analog, digital, whatever electronic parts  in open boxes. Old school in Akihabara.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

While waiting for Tomek, who was looking for an adapter cable to his Samsung laptop (turns out this was going to be muzukashi because Samsung for some reason does not sell laptops in Japan), I looked around and wondered if you could buy cables straight off the walls.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

This hightech pedestrian ‘cycled’, ‘segwayed’, maybe  ‘drove’ along (is there a word for it yet?) on a vehicle, I have never seen before. Like a Segway missing the steering wheel. Fascinating.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The sight of the half-segway made the facial beauty rollers almost a boring find.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

However, Natto Deluxe, the stinky slimy fermeted soy beans, in the midst of cameras, tripods, mobile phones and tablets did not disappoint. No matter if this is electronics town, we are foremost in Japan.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Some products are more useful than others.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

The glasses that let you watch TV in a horizontal sleeping position. Or, if you just wear them like Tomek here, you will see your feet while looking straight. Mind fuck.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Mainly, Akihabara is the place to find action figures and anime merchandise in Tokyo.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

You can get arty Art Nouveau manga figures.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

Some otaku fun features moveable limbs.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

And you get yo choose your preferred figure size.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

You can buy a DIY tank set. And paint it pink.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

For kids, there is the toy section at Yodobashi for example. Where I learned about another peculiarity. Barbie, the doll that has dominated girls’ role play in the western world has not caught on in Japan.

Instead, Licca-chan (リカちゃん pronouced Rika-chan in Japanese), conquered Japanese girls’ hearts. Less sexy with more cute features. Every Japanese girl I asked, played with one.

DSC05858

 

Let me write a final ‘LINE’ about stands, advertisements, cuddly toys and accessories of the most popular online-chat app, called LINE. I use it all the time and in comparison to aged Skype, which is often blocking our whole smartphone system, with LINE you can take pics, videos and send them right away, as well as make free calls easily. The emoticons are over cool (not just a handful of old fashioned smileys).  Everybody we know in Asia uses LINE. A good thing to have here.

Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo

 

As we are approaching Christmas, Akihabara is playing along, in its own nerdy way. I mean, just look at Darth Vader and the Christmas tree at Laox.

Darth Vader Laox Akihabara Tokyo

 

Shopping in Akihabara is like having Easter and Christmas in one day. Merry shopping!

Akihabara otaku christmas bunny manga figure Tokyo Japan

For Akihabara Christmas illuminations and Japan in Christmas mood, stay tuned for a visual feast from Tokyo.

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