My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: October 19, 2022
Beginning its existence as a center of postwar black-market activity, Akihabara later became the showcase of Japanese tech, jam-packed with shops selling all kinds of electronics and IT to the world. More recently, it has also become the cultural home to the diehard fans of gaming, manga and anime—the otaku. The area is an urban temple for worshippers of Japanese subcultures with pop idols, and cosplayers. Stroll Akihabara's avenues for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
You can get to Akihabara Station easily on the JR Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Sobu Line,Tokyo Metro's Hibiya Line, or via the Tsukuba Express.
From Haneda Airport: 45 minutes by train.
From Narita Airport: about an hour and a half by train.
From Shinjuku Station: 18 minutes on the JR Sobu Line to Akihabara Station.
From Tokyo Station: Four minutes on the JR Yamanote Line to Akihabara Station.
Once home to black-market sellers of electronics parts in postwar Japan, the streets of Akihabara are now densely packed with legitimate electronics retailers hawking everything with a current. Specialty parts shops line the streets, and electronics megastores such as Laox and Yodobashi Camera engage in fierce retail competition. Akihabara Radio Kaikan offers anime and character-related goods, while Akihabara Radio Centre sells amateur radio and electronic equipment.These stores make up for their small size with a fiery passion for their chosen interest. Many stores offer duty-free shopping to help you stretch your yen further.
The subcultures obsessed with gaming, manga, figure collecting and anime that constitute otaku culture have their roots firmly planted in Akihabara. Squeezed in between the many electronic component shops are shrines dedicated to individual obsessions. Akihabara Radio Kaikan and the Akiba Cultures Zone, for example, house many stores dedicated to anime, manga and games. At Tokyo Leisure Land, you can play a variety of games, and professional players of the BEMANI PRO LEAGUE, which combines e-sports and music, are frequent visitors. The iconic arcades in Akihabara have been rebranded as GiGO, but still offer a gamer’s paradise with multiple floors of entertainment. When you need a break, you can continue your otaku experience by visiting one of Akihabara’s many themed cafes.
Akihabara is home to another distinctive element of Japanese pop culture—the pop idol. The AKB48 Theatre is the birthplace of one of the most popular musical groups of recent times, AKB48, and devoted fans still flock to the area hoping for a glimpse of their favorite group member. The streets can become crowded on weekends if groups of cosplayers arrive, transforming into their characters of choice. You can join the fun at any time by visiting one of the costume and photo studios.