Tokyo: Akihabara, Otaku’s Paradise
You might have watched the Yowamushi Pedal anime where the lead character Onoda Sakimichi is so addicted to anime that he frequently visits Akihabara to buy anime stuff. Akihabara is well known in Japan and overseas for being the center of otaku culture particularly in anime and manga stuff.
Otaku is a Japanese term that describes a person with obsessive interests and is usually attached to interests in anime and manga. Like Onoda, he is shown to be an anime otaku at the start of the series. There are also other kinds of otaku outside the context of anime and manga. And one of the best places in Japan for otaku culture is Akihabara.
Admit it, we have been fans of popular Japanese anime like Naruto, One Piece, Hajime no Ippo, Attack on Titans, Yokai Watch and many more. Those anime were among the first ones to have introduced us Japanese culture (and the language). No wonder, we were thrilled like kids when we personally saw Akihabara before our own eyes.
Posters of anime icons were prominently displayed in shops and on the buildings. There are many shops selling anime stuff of all kinds you can think of: keychains, posters and especially character models including rare ones that can not be seen elsewhere. Almost every kind of anime stuff can be seen here, most are from famous anime franchises such as Naruto, Gundam, One Piece, Pokemon and Yokai Watch, some from the bygone era, and a number of stores are selling adult stuff.
Aside from anime stuff, many stores are also selling games and game consoles. And here’s the catch, not only the latest games are being sold, but we saw many stores selling retro games – like the iconic Nintendo Family Computer console and their cartridges. I wonder many people want to reminisce their childhood playing retro games amidst the release of modern computer games offering near realistic graphics.
A large number of arcade shops are also located here, where anyone can not just play video games (both old and new) but also to try getting prizes in one of the numerous claw machines (like the UFO Catchers) scattered around the area. Many maid cafes are located here, and many ‘maids’ in their costume can be seen in the streets promoting their shops. Other specialty-themed cafes are also found here. Especially during peak days, cosplayers can prominently be seen in the area. Shops of other otaku interests are also found here. For instance, there are large shop selling scale models of famous warships and airplanes as well as for those wanting to build a model of a railway system.
Long before Akihabara established itself as an otaku center, it became a major shopping center for electronic goods shortly after the Second World War. There are many shops selling electronic items, both brand new and secondhand. Some of them also sell electronic spare parts like transistors and resistors. A couple of “electronic department store” buildings are also found here, one of which is the Yodobashi store located beside the Akihabara JR station. Many of these stores offer tax-free shopping for overseas tourists. Akihabara was nicknamed “Electric Town” because of this.
Akihabara is a shortened form of Akibagahara (秋葉が原), meaning “autumn leaf field”, which ultimately comes from Akiba (秋葉). It has been named after a fire-controlling deity of a firefighting shrine built after the area was destroyed by a fire in 1869. If you’re a great fan of anime or manga, or just a simple person buying electronic stuff, then Akihabara is a great place.
Here’s a 360 photo by Arisa on our trip to Akihabara:
Akihabara #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Akihabara Station is a busy station served by the JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Sobu Line, the Tsukuba Express and the Hibiya Subway Line. Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Subway Line is located around the northern end of the district.