Tokyo Snapshots: Akihabara

Today we’ll take a closer look into the electronics district of Tokyo, Japan known as Akihabara. Akihabara is located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. This section of Tokyo historically gains its name from the Shinto shrine to the fire-deity, Akiba. 

Getting There

Akihabara has it’s own train station located on the Japan Rail (JR) Yamanote line. Two other stations, Suehirocho and Iwamotocho, are also within walking distance. 

Image taken from the Akihabara Tourist Information website

If you are coming from the Shinkansen, or Bullet train, it is best to get off at Tokyo station and transfer to the Keihintohoku (towards Omiya) or Yamanoe (towards Ueno/Ikebukuro) line there. 

Shopping in Akihabara

Once you exit the train station, you will be in the heart of the Akihabara. 

Image taken from the Akihabara Tourist Information website.

If you have no idea what to expect, wander around! You will have no idea what you will encounter. This is the best way to make your own discoveries and learn about a city. I would encourage you to have a map of the city or specific area you are visiting just in case you do happen to get lost and can’t find your way back to the train station. If you do not speak Japanese, a small pocket card with useful phrases is also a must.

The first store that always catches my eye out of the station is the Yodobashi Camera store. Yes they sell more than cameras! If Amazon were to have a retail space for their electronics, I’d image there shop might look similar to Ydobashi. If you can’t find the electronic item you are looking for here, you won’t find it anywhere! Prices can be haggled here, but I wouldn’t bother too much. Keep in mind Tokyo is one of the more expensive cities to visit and everything here is going to be good quality. 

Another side note…if you buy electronics in Japan, they are configured to work in Japan! Ensure you have the means to change the voltage or can configure the item to work at your home before you spend big money. There are always some exceptions.  I bought my Canon G7X in Japan for a great price. I know how to change the settings from Japanese to English though and researched that the camera would work the same in the US as in Japan. 

If you are an anime, manga or cultural fan, the next store I want to highlight is called Mandarake. It’s one of the largest collector stores you will see in Tokyo. The store carries DVD, manga comics, dolls, action figures, plush, etc. They are going to be one of the best starting points if you are looking for a very specific item. Everything in the Akihabara shop is second hand, but most of the merchandise is in very good to excellent condition. This can be a very good thing if you are on a limited budget!

If you are on the hunt for some typical Japanese souvenirs, Don Quijote would be a good store to visit. They are a large Japanese discount chain store. They carry many unique and sometimes strange products. I was able to stock up some my favorite Japanese sweets last time I was here! The brightly colored Japanese packing on products can be very overwhelming. Take your time to ensure you have a small idea of what you may be purchasing. 

There are many other smaller shops around the area. The Japan Guide is a great resource to get you started on planning out your journey to Akihabara

Eating in Akihabara

When it comes dining in this part of Tokyo, there are your typical restaurants as well as manga cafes and maid cafes. I wasn’t brave enough to dine in either, but my friends tell me they are quite a unique experience. A Maid cafe is where your server will be dressed as a maid or other anime character. They will engage you in conversation and will play some games with you. The manga cafes will be a place where you can go to read comics, have coffee and browse the internet. 

Trip Adviser will give you a basis to figure out if you want to visit a specific themed cafe or are looking for a general dining location. My person favorite spot is called Katsuya. I’ve been there twice now and find their service to be fast, efficient and their portions generous for a girl on a budget. Their menu is available in English and has instructions to point to the photo of the dish you would like to be served! I recommend the katsudon (pork cutlet over rice with tarter sauce). On my next trip, I’ll be more adventurous. Be open to different options and if you are new to eating Japanese food, don’t be afraid to try new things!

Wrap Up

I hope this helps give you a little information about the Akihabara district of Tokyo. I know sometimes it can be harder to find information about a specific area of a city than just the typical tourist attractions. My goal is always to get you started and pointed in the right direction in terms of planning your own trip! Until next time, happy travels.