The Otaku Mecca: Tokyo’s Akihabara Electric Town

Origin of Akihabara
The name Akihabara originates from an ancient Japanese deity called Akiba Junja- translating to fire extinguisher. In 1869 a fire ravaged the region, destroying much of the area. In response, the locals made an Akiba Jinja shrine which later leads to naming the city Akihabara.

Due to its disconnect for the government, Akihabara evolved into a modern entrepreneurial city. In the 1930s much of its economy boomed towards electronics- washing machines, microwaves, radios, etc.… This spurring the nickname Akihabara Deki Gai (Electric Town). As the old electronics lifespan died out, business shifted into video games, anime, and gadgets; transforming Akihabara into a modernistic worldwide attraction. Many in Japan consider the Eclectic Town a sacred place for gaming culture- an Otaku (nerd) Mecca.

Akihabara Car-free Zone.jpg
By http://www.flickr.com/photos/heiwa4126http://www.flickr.com/photos/heiwa4126/477038814, CC BY 2.0, Link

Electric Town Culture
Otaku roughly translating to computer nerd or fanboy/ fangirl. This word has defined the Electric Town culture. From the city’s economy to the buildings. Architects do their best when drawing blueprints, to resemble the popular game worlds. Building to the culture is the enormous colourful anime ads displayed throughout the city. Along with this are Café maids, girls dressed in vibrant character outfits to advertise shops. Another aspect of the playful culture is the many conventions and special events that let players and creators come together and share. Here, also, is a known place for amateur manga (Japanese cartoons) writers to get exposure and network.

Ginza 4, Chuo-dori St. 2005 (73602211).jpg
By hiroakiGinza 4, Chuo-dori St., CC BY 2.0, Link

Walk Down Chuo Dori
Chuo Dori is Akihabara’s main street and a perfect place to start exploring this maze of a town. Close to the road also is Akihabara Radio Center which was the birthplace of the city and its name. At the Radio Center buyers can find a plethora of old electronic parts. Continue down Chuo Dori and you’ll see what once was small stores, huge gaming centers and hobby shops. During the weekends, café maids and people in character costumes line the streets for pictures. After seeing all that this road has to see, try adventuring through one of the many alley ways selling niche games and retail.

Yodobashi-Umeda_at_August_1st,2014.JPG

Yodobashi
Yodobashi is a known legend when it comes to cheap electronics and colossal stores. At 9 stories tall selling everything imaginable: TVs, computers, cameras, vacuums, headphones, and more; it is one of the biggest electronic stores in the world. From floor 1 to 6 the stores consist of various gadgets and appliances- PC parts, ovens, games, fax machines, tablet. But when you hit floor 7, it opens up to a couple chain stores selling books, music and retail. At the eighth floor is a full size food court- they probably figured customers would be starving after going through hours of buying options. Finally, at floor 9 Yodobashi decided to stick a driving range and golf store. All they need now is a 10th floor for apartments and people could live there. It’s a gadget wonderland.

Exploring Japan on your own? We can help you to plan your trip! Just askus@ladyredot.com.


josh-may
Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

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