Akihabara is a representative town for electric appliances in Japan, and called “mecca of otaku(nerd)” as the subcultures such as animations and games are flourished. As Japanese animation boasts tremendous popularity overseas, Akihabara has been attracting attention from foreign visitors to Japan in recent years. This time we will introduce the must-visit tourist spots of Akihabara aka “Akiba.”
What is Electric Town Akihabara?
Akihabara was originally a timber merchant town, which flourished along the Kanda River during the Edo period (1603-1867). In the early Edo period, there were mansions of Daimyo and the Shogunal retainers since the Edo Castle was located nearby. In the middle of the Edo period, Daimyo and the Shogunal retainers moved to suburbs due to the growth of population. Then, it became a town of townpeople.
Akihabara is now well known as one of the world's biggest electric towns, but it actually started after the Pacific War. Japan was poor in the postwar period, and the black-market was prosperous in many cities, and Akihabara was one of them. Since many merchants flowed in, it became a market town and many people gathered. The number of shops selling electrical appliances and parts increased according to the rapid economic growth that occurred several years later. Then, it leaped to be renowned widely as an electric town.
What is unique to Akihabara is that there are not only major electric appliance stores but also many small stores carry electric parts. Since small electric parts that can’t be found at regular electric stores are selling individually, it has been loved and valued for a long time by people who want to build electric appliances and devices by themselves. Among them, there are a few advanced people who collect what they like and assemble their own personal computers with their desired features. Besides personal computers, there are enthusiasts for hi-fi audio, amateur radio, imported software music and so on. For such people, Akihabara is the place like treasure-trove. It can be understood that Akihabara attracts maniac fans to gather.
How to walk around Akihabara
Akihabara has 2 distinctive features: electricity and animation. Just walking a little after getting off the station, you can see various types of shops ranging from major electric chain stores to private shops that sell parts only. There are also many stores specialized in animation character goods. Many people also enjoy “cosplay” that wears the same costume of an animation character, and turns completely into the character. Also, “maid café” where female staffs serve you in cute costumes is very popular. There are many duty-free shops, and shops where English-speaking staff stationed and support foreign visitors, so it supposed to be an enjoyable town even if it is the first visit to Japan.
In recent years, idols also represent this town. There are many idols ranging from top-class known worldwide to new comers that are about to break through. In Akihabara, there are many venues where these idols have performances. It might be fun to go and see their shows. Of course, it is also fun to buy items at your favorite idol's specialty stores.
1.Shops・Shopping in Akihabara
“Anime” is one of the cultures represents Akihabara. This is the largest store specializing in anime product. Inside the store, there is a pile of items lined up including anime characters’ figures, trading cards, and rare books like zines, novels, manga, comics and more. Since there are many items that can be found only here, the store is always crowded with core anime fans.
Also, the store regularly holds performing events with singers who sings animation’s songs and voice actors who dubs animation’s titles. If you are anime fan, we highly recommend this store, which covers most of items related to anime.
●4-3-2, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●No scheduled holidays
■ Akihabara Radio Kaikan
This is the building that should be called a symbol of Akiba, located just outside the Akihabara Station. Known as “Radikan,” there are a number of stores selling household appliances, personal computers, plastic models, toys, and books in this building. You may say that you can find major products of Akihabara here.
There are also restaurants and food shops in the basement floor, so you can stop by for lunch if you get tired from shopping.
“Akihabara Radio Kaikan”
●1-15-16, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●No scheduled holidays
■ Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan
Capsule toy is loved by both adults and children. Aren't we getting excited to think what kind of toys are in the capsule when putting money and turn the dial ...? This “Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan” specializes in such capsule toys. They offer more than 100 kinds of capsule toys, so it is difficult to choose which one to play first.
There are a variety of capsule toys such as popular animated characters, well-made Japanese plastic food samples, animals and bird figures and so on. It is inevitable to stay longer once you get there.
“Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan”
●Gee! Store Akiba, 3-15-5, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●No scheduled holidays
2. Sightseeing in Akihabara
■Akihabara Electric Town
The electric town that can be said as the symbol of Akihabara. In this street, electric shops of all kinds such as general electronic retail stores and specialized stores of PCs are crowded together. Many of them are duty-free shops so you may purchase electric appliances at more reasonable prices than elsewhere. Many products that meet overseas specification are sold, so it is safe to use in your own country.
Also, Akihabara Chuo Street of the electric town turns into a pedestrian precinct every Sunday. It is ideal for walking around the town as well as taking pictures. There are some street performances such as live music, cosplay shows, etc. so it is fun to watch them too.
“Akihabara Electric Town”
● Kanda, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo
■Kanda Myojin Shrine
Kanda Myojin Shrine has a long history of more than 1,200 years, and is revered as the Edo Sochinju (the center place to pray for local gods). There are many torii archway lined in the precinct and filled with the ancient atmosphere. The shrine is designated as a registered cultural asset of the country. It was made with rare construction methods, which connect the main hall, the hall of offering, and the hall of worship altogether. Colored in brilliant vermillion is impressive, and it is a perfect picture-spot. The divine favors of Kanda Myojin Shrine are family satisfaction, matchmaking, business prosperity and so on. When you travel with your family, it is nice to visit here to deepen your family ties and get the divine favors.
“Kanda Myojin Shrine”
●2-16-2, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●Open 7 days a week
3. Meals in Akihabara
■Niku no Mansei Akihabara Main Store
It is not an exaggeration to say that “Niku no Mansei” is the most popular restaurant in Akihabara. The illustration of the cow's smiley face is the trademark of this meat specialty restaurant. Their chain stores spread nationwide, but the Akihabara main store is located at their own building, which the entire building are affiliated stores such as a steakhouse, meat & deli shop, Izakaya (tavern), and so on. You can enjoy a number of meat dishes including ramen noodles, western, and BBQ. The meat they offer is mainly Kuroge Wagyu Beef, which is juicy and filling. It’ll be hard to decide what to order.
“Niku no Mansei Akihabara Main Store”
●2-21, Kandasudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
※ Weekends and holidays 10:30-16:00
●Open 7 days a week
■Gundam Café Akihabara Store
“Gundam” is the monumental robot animation, which Japan boasts to the world. It has many fans overseas, the dream collaboration of Gundam and café became reality. The concept of the shop is to serve coffee using coffee beans, which are collected in South America where the indispensable city Gabrau in Gundam story is located. At the store, you can enjoy specialty coffee and menus such as curry, omelet rice with design simulating each character of Gundam. The motif of every meal is related to the characters, so it is too beautiful to eat.
They offer tableware such as Gundam motif fork and spoon for souvenirs besides the food menu. All goods are unique and attractive, so it's perfect as souvenir.
“Gundam Cafe Akihabara Store”
●1-1, Kandahanaokacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●Open 7 days a week
Tonkatsu (pork katsu) is one of the representative meat dishes of Japan. It is a similar dish to a cutlet, which is pork fried with batter. But strictly speaking, it is slight different from a cutlet as it has a moist texture by frying with plenty oil, and it has been loved by Japanese people for a long time. This restaurant serves such tonkatsu, like a national dish of Japan. This restaurant is always crowded, especially lunch time, for their taste of high-quality pork. Their tonkatsu, crispy and tasty with the special sauce is remarkable, so it's worth eating if you are meat person. There are other pork dishes such as pork ginger besides tonkatsu, but you can also enjoy some deep-fried seafood such as shrimp and oyster depending on the season.
●1-8-14, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●11:30-15:00 / 17:00-21:00
●Closed on Mondays, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays
4. Accommodations in Akihabara (Hotels)
■ GRIDS Akihabara
It is a hostel style accommodation, which is rapidly increasing in Japan in recent years. Even a solo traveler can enjoy by exchanging the travel information or socializing with other guests. GRIDS Akihabara has a great benefit of both hotel and hostel.
The accommodation floor has stylish rooms by incorporating the latest equipment and using simple and modern design. It makes you feel relax and being at home. At the entrance, there is a bar lounge designed with the image of “railway terminal.” You can have fun night by socializing with other guests. There is also a floor for women only, so women travelers can stay at ease.
●2-8-16, Higashi-kanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
■GLANSIT AKIHABARA～COMFORT CAPSULE HOTEL～
“Capsule hotel” that is a unique lodging culture in Japan. Because of its low lodging price, it used to have an image, which a place is just for sleep. But in recent years, a number of facilities that can meet various needs with multiple functions have increased. “GLANSIT AKIHABARA - COMFORT CAPSULE HOTEL-" is one of them. It runs under the concept of “sophistication × comfort,” and the interior and facility design are very stylish.
The reception area with the impressive earth color and soft dimming make us feel as if we came into the forest. Also, futon that uses a functional mattress based on sleep engineering is equipped in each room. It heals your body and gives you a comfortable stay. Allowing you to check-in 24 hours is a plus. It is safe and convenient if you suddenly need accommodation or change the itinerary.
“GLANSIT AKIHABARA - COMFORT CAPSULE HOTEL –”
●4-4-6, Soto-kanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
■ Suehiro no Yu Dormy Inn Akihabara
A merit of staying business hotel is its reasonable price, but what we should focus on is room facilities. Most hotels use wooden floors and adopt western style interior, but this hotel supplies Japanese style rooms too. A reproduced old-fashioned Japanese room that is equipped with tatami mats and Chabudai (low dining table) gives you a touch of Japanese culture. They also offer you an outdoor public-bath, which is very rare in the heart of Tokyo. Not only can you have an experience of soaking outdoor-bath but also ease your body with Hinoki (Japanese cypress) bath and sauna.
“Suehiro no Yu Dormy inn Akihabara”
●4-12-5, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
5. Other attractions
■ Maidreamin Akihabara Main Store
“Maid café” that represents one of the cultures of Akihabara. “Maid café” is known for their service that cute female staff wear maids’ clothes, and serve customers food or play games together. “Meidreamin” is one of them. They were already popular as a maid café, and many customers including girls, business men, families with kids have come. The feature of this cafe is that they offer customers “maid experience,” which gives you to wear maids’ clothes and to take photos in the costume. It is sure to be a good memory if you take photos in cute maid’s costume. It is a perfect experience of Akihabara too.
“Maidreamin Akihabara Main Store”
●Sumiyoshi Bldg. 6F, 3-16-17 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●11:30 – 23:00
※ Weekends and holidays 10:30-23:00
●Open 7 days a week
People who like the world of animation and comics should have dreamed about cosplay (costume play). It would be fun and special experience as become your favorite character in costumes. There are many shops where provide these service in Akihabara, and many cosplay goods are sold. And if you do it, why don’t you keep them as pictures? In that case, a photo studio, “Studio CROWN” is the place.
You can rent out this studio at reasonable prices as a shared studio, and take photographs as you wish. You need to prepare costumes by yourself, but you can rent some simple props and take pictures just as imaged. It is nice to take cosplay pictures in memories of the trip.
●Building Sasage East 5F tower B, 2-4-6, Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●Open 7 days a week
How to get to Akihabara (station)
Akihabara has one of the best transport access among tourist spots in Tokyo. There are 5 trains in total at Akihabara Station, including 3 lines of JR such as Yamanote Line, Keihin Tohoku Line, and Sobu Line. It is also the first stop of Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and the Tsukuba Express Line. The Yamanote line can be reached from Akihabara to the main attractions in Tokyo, such as Shibuya and Shinjuku, so it is a convenient train to travel around Tokyo in one day.
For example, from Narita International Airport, use Keisei Skyliner to Ueno Station. Then take JR Yamanote Line or Keihin Tohoku Line from Ueno Station to Akihabara Station, which is just 2 stops and takes 4 minutes. In total, it takes about 40 to 60 minutes from Narita Airport to Akihabara. Because of its convenient access, Akihabara can also be the first place to see
Summary of Akihabara
Broadly speaking, Akihabara has 2 highlights that is electric products and animation. This town has plenty of things such idols, products, activities, which you can't expect elsewhere.
It will be a perfect place for experiencing Japanese subculture even if you are not an anime fan. As various electric appliances are sold here, it is also recommended to shop for souvenirs and items you want. When you come to Japan, go check out Akihabara.
*The above information was last updated May 7, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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