Guest writer: IIvan#0001
More likely than not you’re at least somewhat familiar with Akihabara. When you think of Akihabara, you’re most likely picturing anime stores and maid cafes, but in reality those are just part of what can be found there. There is a lot to cover about the location so let’s get right into the guide!
Akihabara, also known as Akiba due to a shrine that once stood there, is an area around Akihabara Station located within the Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo. For those unfamiliar with what a ward is, they’re a special form of municipality and function as their own urban area. There are a total of 23 wards that make up Tokyo. Getting to Akihabara doesn’t take long as the train from central Tokyo to Akihabara only takes 4 minutes.
The area itself really began to develop into what it is today shortly after World War II due to the many household appliance shops that sprang up. Over time, that enthusiasm for household appliances began to die down and around 1980 the shops shifted their focus to computers, which were only used by a niche group of people at the time. That niche group, mostly hobbyists, brought in a new type of audience for the area (computer nerds aka Otaku) which lead to the development of the Akihabara we know today.
While electronics are still a part of the local shopping, that has since been largely dominated by anime culture as seen with the numerous anime stores, cosplayers, conventions, and maid cafes. This popularity has helped the area receive the funding it needs to redevelop many of their old facilities, such as the train station, and several new high rise businesses.
And should you ever get lost in the city, there are numerous interactive maps setup which you can easily use to find new places and figure out where you are.
As previously noted, Akihabara is a massive shopping area with numerous side streets and main streets for you to traverse. As part of its heritage, you will find hundreds of electronics stores dotted throughout the area which range from independent to chain stores. While many of the electronics sold are only intended for use within Japan, there are a few stores that sell electronics which can be used internationally. There is one humongous electronics store, named Yodobashi Camera, which sells a wide variety of computers, games, camera, and much more. They’re open from 9:30am until 10:00pm and they’re open every day of the week.
Now the part most of you have probably been waiting for. While there aren’t as many anime/manga related stores as there are electronic ones, you’re most likely going to end up seeing them all over the place regardless. Due to the large amount of anime/manga fans who come to this location, you’ll end up seeing cosplayers walking around along with posters advertising specific anime and maids in front of their cafes. Anime stores will have a wide variety of goods, ranging from dvds to figurines, and due to the large number of them you’ll definitely find whatever you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, several maid cafes can be found in the area which offer food similar to what you can find in most regular cafes. Coffee, a wide variety of snacks and desserts, as well as other beverages are the type of things you’d find on the menu. Expect cute designs and for the employees to welcome you into the cafe with a “Welcome home master”. Alternatively, there is also a type of cafe called “manga cafe” which contrary to its name is actually a place where customers can read manga and have access to the internet.
Places Of Interest
This shop is located right by Akihabara Station and the most amazing part about it is that it takes up an entire 10 floors. You could easily spend several hours just in this store alone. While you won’t find much manga in the store, you will find an abundance of anime related goods such as cards, figurines, posters, pillows, board games, and much more! This store is open from 10am until 11pm every day of the week.
Looking for a one stop manga shop that suits all your manga needs? This store covers 5 floors and has just about every manga you’d ever want inside of it. There are also more figurines, models, and some dvds. This store is a little harder to get to once you arrive at Akihabara, but you can find it just past the Sega Arcade. They’re open from 12pm until 8pm every day of the year.
Akiba Culture Zone
This shop, centered around anime culture, has over 6 floors of shops and the top on features a backstage cafe while the bottom floor has a theater. If cosplay is your thing, there is a store named “ACOS” on the 5th floor of the Culture Zone. You’ll be greeted by a wide variety of costumes that cover numerous anime for you to choose from. They’re open from 11am until 9:30pm every day of the year.
This themed cafe is, as its name implies, themed around the Gundam series. Everything inside is sleek and various models are on display around the cafe. Your food and drinks are arranged in a way that showcase significant characters from the series. This cafe is open every day of the week, hours 10am-11pm Mon-Fri and 8:30am-9:30pm Sat. and Sun. The Gundam Cafe is but one of many themed cafes found in Akihabara.
There is certainly a lot to see and do within Akihabara with even a day trip likely not being sufficient enough to fully experience the area. While our guide gave you a broad overlook into Akihabara, I highly recommend you check out one of the links below for maps and addresses of specific stores.