Passing through Akihabara: A Technophile’s Paradise

Aside from being a foodie and a traveler, my real day job is being a tech writer for a magazine. You may not believe it but aside from food, I am also super hooked with new gizmos and software that are surfacing here and there. If you must know, I used to work as a software engineer for a well-known camera and printer brand even if my bachelor’s degree is a bit unrelated to it because of my love for tech stuff.

So when I set foot in Japan, I knew that my trip to Akihabara will certainly be a memorable one. If only I had unlimited monies, I would definitely buy all the gadgets that I desire in this techie’s heaven. And if I had the choice, I would never leave this place.

Akihabara Map (Image Source: Japan-Guide.com)

One morning, I took a train from Nakayama Station (where I was staying) and planned my route to Akihabara Station.

Akihabara Station

Akibahara, or Akiba to some, is popular for being the home of many electronics shops in Japan. It is also recognized as the haven for otakus (diehard fans) who are into anime and manga, which is why you can easily spot lots of stores dedicated to these in Akihabara.

Gundam Cafe, AKB48 Cafe & Shop, and Yodobashi Camera

Near the Akihabara Station is a Gundam Cafe, AKB48 Cafe & Shop, and the large electronics superstore, Yodobashi Camera.

Electronic Stores in Akihabara

Akihabara is a  center for electronics commerce and tons of tourists in Japan visit this place to purchase a lot of stuff related to tech and anime. Like Ginza, the main street is closed to vehicle traffic and turns into a pedestrian paradise on Sundays from 1 PM to 6 PM.

There are over hundreds of electronics shops in Akihabara ranging from small stalls to multi-storey stores. During peak season, the streets around Akihabara are packed with people searching for affordable gadgets like desktops, notebooks, tablets, mobile phones, cameras, electronics parts, and home appliances. Even second-hand electronics goods can also be bought here at very cheap prices.

Sega in Akihabara

For 90’s kids, Sega is popular video game brand that many of us certainly have a story or two. I remember that I used to spend afternoons at a neighbor’s house to play Sonic the Hedgehog on a Sega player. Seeing a huge Sega building in Akiba brings back these happy memories. My thumb used to hurt back then, playing video games for hours.

Many stores in Akiba have gashapon machines. These machines are similar to coin-operated vending machines where you put a certain amount of cash and a toy capsule comes out of them. The deal with gashapon is the blind purchase that you make since you have no control what toy you can get from the machine. Usually, a set can be completed from getting gashapon but the challenge comes with getting the top character, which comes in limited number.

Gashapon

Aside from electronic stuff, there are also a few stores around the area that sell stuff for *adults*. If you know what I mean. 😉

After walking around the main street of Akihabara (and buying a few electronic products), I decided to explore the other side where Yodobashi (Camera) Akiba is located. This superstore is a good reason never to leave Akihabara. It contains all the gadgets that any techie would want to have. And being located in a first world country, the gadgets here are definitely the latest.

Yodobashi-Akiba

Yodabashi-Akiba occupies six levels that categorizes the products from floor to floor (excluding the parking area). First floor has mobile phones, watches, and printers. Second floor has PC peripherals and software. Third floor has cameras, watches (again), and beauty care (yeah, you saw that right). Fourth floor contains the audio and video products, Fifth floor has home electronics. And sixth floor has games, toys, and bicycles. From low-end to high-end devices, name it and Yodobashi has it.

Neat Stall of DSLRs

Insider Tip: Electronic goods sold in Akihabara are relatively cheaper but you should be aware that some may have technical differences such as voltage input, which make them fit for use only in Japan. But it is possible to spot some stores that sell international models of the electronic goods that you are looking for. Make sure to read or ask before you make a purchase. Though language may still be a barrier, sellers here are extremely helpful and will try their best to serve you well. Some stores even provide duty-free purchase for products with price over JPY 10,000 but you may be required to present your passport.

Any tips when traveling to Akihabara in Japan? Share them with us!






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