Akihabara

Akihabara

Akihabara is renowned for its enormous number of electronics stores, which line the streets alongside game centers, maid cafes and various anime and manga stores. In recent years, the district has seen the development of the Akihabara Crossfield: two super-highrises that are fast becoming a global IT center and the focal point of the whole area. It’s worth noting that Akihabara’s main street, Chuo Dori, is a pedestrian-only area on Sunday afternoons, when it is completely closed to cars.


What kind of items can I purchase in Akihabara?
Almost anything! You’ll find everything from mobile phones, computers, cameras, home appliances and televisions to second-hand electronic parts. Chuo Dori is lined with major electronics retail outlets, as well as simple, one-trader stalls that specialize in single electronic components. The largest store of all is the Yodobashi Camera complex, found just to the east of the train station. The side streets are similarly packed, but usually with independent outlets, as opposed to the larger retail chains.

If you are a foreign visitor, it’s important to check the voltage requirements and plug shape needed for appliances in your country of origin. This will prevent you from accidentally purchasing an item that can only be used in Japan. Many stores stock overseas models of most of their items and will also offer duty free prices on items costing more than 10,000 yen, if you show your passport.

tokyo-akihabara-maids
Akihabara Maids

Otaku Culture
Otaku is a Japanese slang word that best translates as “geek.” Otaku interests include computers (of course!) as well as figurines, role-playing card games, video games, anime and manga. Akihabara has dozen of stores catering to all of these interests. In fact, the district is commonly regarded as the center of otaku culture.
Maid cafes are also commonly found in Akihabara. These are cafes where waitresses will dress either in anime or maid costumes and treat their customers like masters. It’s all in good fun, though! There are also manga kissaten (or “comics cafes”), which are basically internet cafes offering the added bonus of DVDs to watch and comics to read.


Guide to Electronics Stores

Ishimaru Denki
Open between 10:00 and 20:00, 7 days.

Ishimaru Denki have three stores in Akihabara. All are located near the train station. Aside from the main store, their Akiba store is dedicated to computers and mobile phones, while their Soft store sells games, DVDs, CDs, and miscellaneous anime-themed products.

Sofmap
Open between 11:00 and 21:00 (some branches close earlier), 7 days.

Sofmap have a dozen shops in Akihabara. There is a larger main store, in addition to their numerous specialty outlets, each of which features a certain kind of item, such as games, CDs, or even Apple products. They also have outlets for used goods.

Laox
Open between 10:00 and 20:00 (Main Store stays open to 21:00), 7 days.

Laox have four stores in Akihabara. Besides their Main store, there is the Pocket Plus One store, selling mobile phone products, the Musicvox store for musical instruments, and the Asobitcity store for game and hobby products. The Main and Pocket Plus One stores offer duty free items.

Yamada Denki
Open between 10:00 and 22:00, 7 days.

Situated directly over the road from the “Akihabara Electric Town” exit at the train station, Yamada Denki have a LABI store, which sells computers and accessories, along with household appliances.

Akky
Open between 9:30 and 20:00, 7 days.

Akky is a duty free store with three outlets near the train station. They sell a range of electronic equipment, including televisions, cameras, computers, and software. They stock many items that are suitable for overseas use, and also have a selection of second hand goods.

Radio Market
Opening hours vary from store to store.

Radio Market is actually an entire area within Akihabara. It used to be a black market area, known for selling radio parts after the war. These days, its alleyways are lined with a multitude of small, open stalls. Each has its wares laid out on display for you to browse through. They sell thousands of different electrical parts, radios, computer parts, and monitors. Items are generally sold without packaging and at wholesale prices.

Yodobashi Camera
Open between 9:30 and 22:00, 7 days.
(Restaurants open between 11:00 and 23:00)

Located on the east side of Akihabara train station, this giant discount store sells far more than cameras. It’s also a one-stop shop for everything from watches, computers, games and home appliances to cosmetics! They stock international models of most appliances and also offer duty-free prices. With eight storeys and additional basement levels, Yodobashi Camera is truly enormous. There are even restaurants inside, in which you can take a break if the shopping gets overwhelming.


Attractions

Akihabara Crossfield
Akihabara Crossfield aims to become the leading IT center for the world. It consists of two super-highrise buildings: the Akihabara Dai Building and the UDX Building. The UDX Building houses a comprehensive information center on its second floor, as well as the Tokyo Anime Center on its fourth floor.

Maid Cafes
Go to one of Akihabara’s famous maid cafes, and you’ll typically be served by waitresses dressed in French maid costumes. They’ll also chat with you and play games, treating you just like the “master of the house.” Some will even spoon-feed you! Both male and female diners frequent these cafes. It’s worth noting that there are also some English speaking maid cafes, such as the “@Home Cafe,” which is located in the Don Quijote store.

Tokyo Anime Center
Open between 11:00 and 19:00.
Closed Monday (and also Tuesday if the Monday is a holiday)

You’ll find the Tokyo Anime Center on the fourth floor of Akihabara Crossfield’s UDX Building. Besides selling anime-related stationery and souvenirs, the center holds exhibitions and other anime events.

Don Quijote
Open between 10:00 and 17:00, 7 days.

This is quite a well-known discount chain. Here, you can find everything from toys and groceries to fashion goods and, of course, electronics. The Akihabara store even has its own girl group, AKB48, performing daily in their own theater on the eighth floor. Tickets are 3000 yen. The English-speaking maid cafe, @Home Cafe, is also on the fifth floor.

Super Potato
Open between 11:00 and 20:00 on weekdays
(Opens at 10:00 on weekends and public holidays)

Super Potato is a video game specialist store, with a particular focus on retro consoles and games. They have a huge selection of games, games systems, and accessories. They also stock a lot of second-hand items.

Mandarake
Open between 12:00 and 20:00, 7 days.

Mandarake claim that they are the largest anime and manga store in the world. They sell manga, CDs, posters, and figurines, along with just about any other type of anime or manga-related item you can imagine. The store also specializes in second-hand goods, so it’s a great place to find rare collectibles.

Gundam Cafe
Open between 10:00 and 23:00 weekdays
8:30 to 23:00 on Saturdays
8:30 to 21:30 on Sundays/Public Holidays

This cafe is entirely styled upon the popular “Mobile Suit Gandam” anime TV show. Even the food is decorated to fit the theme. There is also a gift store selling souvenirs.

AKB48 Shop and Cafe
Cafe open between 11:00 and 23:00, 7 days
Shop open between 11:00 and 22:00 (23:00 on Fridays, weekends and holidays)

This cafe is centered on the girl group, AKB48, who also play daily in Akihabara’s Don Quijote store. Even the food here is themed, and the adjoining stores also sell plenty of character goods. AKB48 members even visit the cafe on a rotating basis to perform in its theater (Please make reservations if you want to see a performance.)


Getting There


The district itself is centered around Akihabara station, so the best way to get there is by train. It’s located on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line, JR Yamanote line and the JR Sobu line. The subway also stops at two different locations in Akihabara. Additionally, Akihabara station is the terminus of the Tskuba Express line. Rapid (kaisoku) trains travel to and from Tsukuba in 45 minutes.

From Tokyo Station
Take the JR Keihin-Tohoku or Yamanote line and come two stations north. The trip costs 130 yen and lasts less than 5 minutes. During off-peak times in the middle of the day, the Keihin Tohoku line goes directly from Tokyo station to Akihabara station, skipping the stop in between.

From Shinjuku Station
Take the orange JR Chuo line to Ochanomizu Station and change to the yellow JR Sobu line, which is one stop from Akihabara station. This is the fastest option, taking about 14 minutes, including the transfer time. If you don’t want to change trains, simply take a yellow train between Shinjuku and Akihabara. This takes 17 minutes. Both trips cost 160 yen.

Subway
You can also use the subway to get to Akihabara. Take the Hibiya Line (H15) to Akihabara Station, or the Ginza Line (G14) to Suehirocho Station, which will bring you to the northern end of the shopping district.


Accomodation
If you want to stay right in the heart of Otaku culture, there is a small selection of hotels close to the station, with others throughout the shopping district. As the train station is on the Yamanote Line, many travelers use Akihabara as a base from which to access other areas in Tokyo.  Before choosing a place to stay we recommend checking out the page on Tokyo hotels.