Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Exploring Central Tokyo: Akihabara Electronics District

Our last stop in the central Tokyo area was the Akihabara district, also known as the electronics capital of Japan. It. Was. Crazy. I cannot overemphasize the sheer number of electronics stores lining these streets. I have absolutely no idea how they all stay open and manage to make money, but there was an endless supply of TVs, computers, cell phones, video games, washing machines, batteries, etc. Peter and I weren't shopping, but this would have been a convenient trip on which to forget a phone/camera/computer charger. Alas, for once, we remembered everything. Go figure.

 The Akihabara area is also a hub of the gaming culture, something we aren't familiar with, but were nonetheless fasciated by. There were entire stores dedicated to anime, manga, and various collectibles that I couldn't identify but assume have a huge and dedicated following in certain parts of the world.  We had no idea what 99% of the stuff was, but it was really interesting to walk through some of these stores and witness die-hard fans in their element. 

We were there in the evening, but it was still plenty crowded. Apparently on Sundays, the entire main street is closed to traffic, so if you want to witness Akihabara in all its glory, I'd imagine that's the day to do it! Below is one of the side streets, which generally featured the smaller retailers. 
We then turned onto the main road and wandered up and down the street a few times, popping into a couple of the larger stores.
Below is a Sega store (one of the few things I recognized!) and a Sofmap store, which I learned is one of the largest, most famous, electronics chains in Japan.
One of the quirkier features of the Akihabara district is the prevalence of maid cafes, where young female waitresses dress up as maids or other anime characters and serve/interact with diners in character. I think. Honestly, I was trying to figure out if there was some....other....aspect to this attraction, but from what I could tell, they were pretty family-friendly. The maid cafe concept was totally foreign to us, and we didn't actually visit one (see: above fears), so this analysis is just based on my own observations. Several of these girls roamed the streets, and I tried to get a few photos, which I quickly learned they don't appreciate.

Also, a note about the below photo: plaid is apparently all the rage in Tokyo.
Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped into what we assumed was a Sega store, for old time's sake, but turned out to be a giant gaming center. It was one of the cooler and more entertaining things I've ever seen. Each of the four or five floors seemed to have a slightly different theme, lined wall-to-wall with various video and arcade games. I saw what had to have been one of the more talented gamers on the planet playing something that looked like Dance Dance Revolution. He struck me as the most coordinated nerd ever.
Peter played a couple of games before we conceded that we were no match for these hardcore gamers and headed for home. I hope to one day be as cool as any of the people in the above photo.

If you want to experience the electronics and gaming culture of Tokyo, Akihabara is definitely a must-see. I enjoyed our experience primarily because there weren't tons of tourists when we were there, especially in the Sega center, and I like feeling as if we are seeing a culture as it really is. All in all, it was a really fun way to spend the last couple hours of the day!




Check out previous posts from our trip to Japan below!


Arriving in Tokyo/First Impressions


Exploring Central Tokyo:


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Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!

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