After WWII, Japan began rebuilding. Roads and homes were constructed, people went to school and new consumer products were all the rage. In Tokyo, a black market electronics trade flourished in the area surrounding the train tracks in Tokyo’s Taito neighborhood near a school of electrical manufacturing. Over time, the area exploded and the electronics trade legitimized. In today’s Akihabara, stores of all sizes, from kiosks to department stores, crowd the area selling finished products and raw materials for the tech junkie in all of us. Need a high-end Nikon? How about a funny-shaped light bulb? Spools of Cat-5 cable? If can be used in something that plugs in or runs on batteries, it can be found here.
In the past decade or so, Anime has invade Akihabara, and today, it is a Mecca for its fans. Shops selling books, videos, games and of course, costumes, sit comfortably next to stores everyone’s dad would love to spend an afternoon in.
Bridging the gap between the world of anime and electronics are the arcades. This is nothing like the dozen or so games in the lobby of a bowling alley. These are seven stories filled with the deafening din of video games. Each floor has a theme: prize games, photo booths, fighting games, classics, you name it. At one place, I noticed that every floor had a men’s room, but only the second floor and a ladies’ room. Consider yourself warned.
The new electronics are no deal here, and the poor exchange rate to the US dollar make it an even worse buy. If you see something you have to have, be sure it is marked for “use overseas.”
Akihabara is worth a walk through if you are in the Ueno Park area.