AKIHABARA, AN OTAKU OASIS
September 19, 2016 [category:Japanese Subcultures]
Akihabara is not a hidden secret of Tokyo.
In fact, it may be the most well-known district in all the city.
Coming right before (or after, depending how you look at it)
Tokyo Train Station, proper, Akihabara, or "Akiba" as the natives call it,is the go-to spot for not only anime and manga goods but electronics as well.
Only it wasn't always like that.
Akiba began as a black market during the days preceding the end of the war.
The reputation of the area grew and grew until it became a more legitimate place to get electronic goods.
As time passed, it turns out that electronics nerds also happened to be anime and manga nerds (there's a lot of bleed in hobbies in Japan),and that leads us to where we are today.
You've probably seen colorful pictures of the area, full of people dressed as their favorite anime and game characters,
and full of pretty Japanese girls dressed up as maids; but it's not like that all the time.
The maids, yes, are on full display every day of the week.
They're out there on the streets trying to convince prospective customers to come to their maid cafes and pay too much for food and drink.
If you want to see the people dressed as characters (called "cosplayers") then your best bet is to come on a Sunday.
That's when they close the main street off to vehicle traffic.
The cosplay can get pretty provocative, with one now infamous dresser upper having been arrested multiple times
for lifting her legs in the air so people could take pictures up her skirt.
Don't expect that, though. She was the exception to the rule.
Akiba really is home to everything an electronics geek or anime / manga / video game geek could want (what we in the West call "geeks" the Japanese call "otaku").
They have stores that sell modern video games and stores that sell old video games.
You can get the latest Japanese comic books and the old classics. Costumes to dress up in.
Sex toys of all shapes and sizes. Hyper-realistic love dolls. Love dolls that look like anime characters.
The latest electronic gizmos, and parts for you 1967 reel-to-reel that just broke down.
In fact, it's hard to not find what you're looking for in Akiba.
There is one catch though. The folks in Akihabara know that you came there because you want stuff,
and Japanese otaku, they're willing to pay just about whatever it takes to get what they want.
They area's become popular with tourists, too... and someone just visiting Tokyo, especially from a foreign country, has no idea if a price is good or bad. Because of this, you'll find that Akiba has some of the highest prices for things anywhere in Japan. So while it's a great place to rubberneck and see some really out of this world things, be aware that for actual shopping, it's the last place you want to be.