Akihabara

Akihabara (秋葉原), also known as Akihabara Electric Town, is a famous area of Tokyo, Japan, located less than five minutes by train from Tokyo Station.  Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ) in Japan.

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Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, manga, DVD, games and otaku goods, including new and used items.  New items are mostly to be found on the main street, Chou Dori, with many kinds of used items found in the side or back streets.

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Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Yodobashi, Laox or other speciality shops near the station, though there is more variety and lower prices at locales a little further away. 

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Akihabara is also perhaps the last stronghold in the world for classic arcade gaming.  Although arcades are still everywhere in Japan, and more so in Tokyo, the concentration is especially high in Akihabara.  The huge towers of Sega, Taito and others can’t be missed, but places like "Hey Arcade" (on Chuo Dori) have entire floors dedicated to shooting games (Galaga) and fighting games (Tekken).

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Tokyo Animation Center in the UDX Building has information, showings, demonstrations, and events centered around animation and gaming.

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Starting February 1, 100 days of live concerts at the first level of Sato Musen electric store called Live Park in Akiba is being held to convince authorities to reopen Akihabara’s “Pedestrian Paradise” (Chuo Dori), which was closed after the unfortunate stabbing incident last year.

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Maid cafes, which first opened in 2001, are also now very popular in the area.  You can’t miss the maids handing out flyers or with billboard in the streets.  For a more complete description on this topic, please read Three Steps of Japan’s recent blog post on Maids.

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In distinct contrast to the high-tech culture, you can also find the Kanda Myojin Shrine in the area.  Every May, the Kanda Myojin Omikoshi Togyo Matsuri (festival) is held along the streets of Akihabara and Kanda, where tradition and high-tech meet in joyful harmony.

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22 thoughts on “Akihabara

  1. >Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ) in Japan.

    The town’s nickname, “Akiba“, comes from the way 秋葉原 (Akihabara) should technically be read: Akibahara.

      • For some reason, Tokyo people started calling it “Akihabara” long ago…and it became the name.

        Before the area became famous, Japanese people from out of town visiting Tokyo would read the kanji and say “Akibahara“.

        But, as you said, many people shorten it to just the first two kanji and call it “Akiba“.

  2. Thanks for the mention of Three Steps!
    Good article on Akihabara. I didn’t know about the 100 days at Sato Musen. It should be wrapping up about now, right?

    For more about Maid Cafes, I’ve started up a new blog dedicated to reviewing them. It’s called “Maid Runner”. http://maidrunner.blogspot.com/ I’ll post the first review tomorrow, and will go to a weekly basis (probably every Friday) after that. If anyone else wants to contribute reviews, I’d appreciate it.

    • > I didn’t know about the 100 days at Sato Musen. It should be wrapping up about now, right?

      You know, I’m not sure as it seems to still be going on and it’s over 100 days already.

      > For more about Maid Cafes, I’ve started up a new blog dedicated to reviewing them.

      Great. I’ll have to follow this blog too!

          • Thanks! I did finally find it. Seems that the gates had always been pulled down for some reason whenever I’d walked by there before. This time, though, because of the rain, the gates were only half open, and a line of people were standing along in the alley around the corner, waiting to be allowed in. But, they were charging 1000 yen for the event and I only had a 15 minute break during work, so I decided to not bother trying to get inside for photos. The music being performed was pretty standard J-pop in either case. I did pick up a flier for “Akiba in the Park Live”, which is a three-day event running June 6-8, with each act costing 1000 yen to get in. The 100 Days event was supposed to have ended around May 10 or so, but I guess there’s enough demand for it to keep going past the deadline.

    • According to the Live at Akiba website http://akiba.dreama.jp/, looks like this has been extended to August.

      期間

      2009年2月1日(日)~5月10日(日) 大好評に付き8月末まで延長となりました。
      第一期:100日間連続のオープンライブ。

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