I spent a majority of my day Sunday exploring the side streets of Akihabara. While many tourists most likely walk along the main thoroughfare and browse the shops nearest Akihabara Station, I knew that the entire area was worth some detailed viewing.
That’s not to say the main drag is not a good indication of what’s found in the alleys and narrow paths between the buildings. The entrances to several pachinko and other amusement centers can be found, as well as a few large electronics stores. Walking from Akihabara Station to Suehirocho Station along the busy sidewalks allows the brief visitor time to see several anime shops and even the Japanese version of an adult novelty shop. There are a few restaurants and many of the most popular shops will be found there. The best bargains of all the large appliance stores seemed to be at SofMap, though I didn’t price many things and I know some of the stores excelled in their selection and/or prices of certain items. One of the “Duty Free” locations across the main street from the station had the best prices on pants presses, with one model being only about 5000 yen (the equivalent of $50USD).
But walking on the back streets of Akihabara allows you to see the area as the Japanese do. This is where many of the maids stand, enticing passersby to visit their maid café. One wanted to lead me there to ensure I made it; I had to tell her (thanks to my translating app) that I would visit later. I will go into maid cafes later, so please don’t think I’m dodging the subject – it’s just something I want to put together in a full post.
I found many electronics, anime, and toy stores in the alleys, many of which had some specialty. Some stores had really low prices on computer equipment, while others focused on home gadgets. Some anime stores had figurines, while others were exclusively bookstores. Japanese toys are more than just amusements for children, as several stores had capsule machines carrying figurines of popular comic characters, scantily-clad women, or even different types of trucks. A few had stickers or trading cards. Collectible Card Gaming seems to be quite popular in the area as well, as a couple stores had large inventories of cards for role-playing games.
While Akihabara definitely caters to the “geeks” of Japan, it’s an amazing place to wander around and there are several stores hidden in the alleys and up the stairs of the buildings. I am not finished exploring Akihabara by any means, and I will be looking deeper into several of the places I talked about above. If you’re interested in anything specific about Akihabara, please leave a comment below so I can be sure to address it sooner! And don’t worry; the maid café experience will come soon.