Akihabara’s direct translation is ‘field of autumn leaves.’ It sounds so peaceful and natural, worlds away from the reality of Toyko’s ‘electric town.’ After World War II a black market developed around the first school of electrical manufacturing here. From the creation of radios, and later domestic appliances, the area boomed. Later, entertainment products courtesy of the Japanese industrial giants Sony, Toshiba and Sharp would dominate the global business for years to come. But it was the computer that changed everything. Sega and Nintendo staged their battle in Akihabara and changed how the whole world views Japanese pop culture. These days ‘Akiba’ is closely associated with otaku culture and sex shops. The seedy streets could do with cleaning up, but the overwhelming insanity of it all is why tourists flock to the neon-lit jungle every day.

Gundam Café

The lines stretch around the block for the Gundam Café in Akihabara. The anime capital of Japan is the natural home for anime-themed businesses. This café is based on the immensely popular series about giant robots, a large statue of which drew crowds to Odaiba last year. One of the most successful animation exports from Japan, the show became popular across North America after being aired on the Cartoon Network, so don’t be surprised if you see expats standing in the long line together with Japanese fans.

1-1 Kandahanaoka-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: 03-3251-0078

Tomoca Products

Tomoca Products

Even with the abundance of maid cafés and manga-themed stores, Akihabara still attracts those interested in electrical equipment. Tomoca Products is the polar opposite of the glossy big-name commercial stores. The shelves are packed with any imaginable component, including walkie-talkies, megaphones, light bulbs, switches, and an unimaginable variety of cables—enough parts to build your own giant robot. For anyone looking for cut-price electrical accessories, this is the place to go, hands down.

1-15-16 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: 03-3253-6525


This is the flagship store of Japan’s leading electrical retailer, Yodobashi Camera. With the floors packed with the latest cutting-edge technology like 3D televisions, blade-less fans and robot vacuum cleaners, customers can easily lose themselves and end up spending a whole day here. Some staff speak English or other languages, and tourists can purchase certain items tax-free. Yodobashi also stocks special export-only items with menus in multiple languages and universal power adapters.

1-1 Kandahanaoka-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: 03-5209-1010

Words by Christopher Jones

External Link:

Akihabara official website