Thursday, March 05, 2009

Akihabara - All things weird and wonderful

Akihabara Electric Town, Japan

Akihabara, nowadays shortened to Akiba, is the gravitational center of all things you imagine the modern unconventional japan that is. Especially if you think electronics, gadgets, anime, cosplay, maid cafes, internet and all things that are weird and typically Japanese in nature.

Remember the time when Sony introduced the Walkman? Walk Man? The mind boggled at the 'japaneseness' of this word. Today we understand instantly but back when it was launched, you wondered whether to laugh or cry at the mangling of such terms.

And this is what Akiba is all about. Here in this city within Tokyo, the Akihabara Electric Town is the epitome of Japanese quirkiness.

The main focus in this place is consumer electronics. You find the latest gadgets here long before it is introduced to the rest of the world.
I remembered back in 2002 when we were still selling normal 29" and 34" large CRT TVs (I work for an electronic retail store) and had just begun selling 14" & 21" LCD TVs, our jaws dropped when we saw whopping 42" LCD TVs being sold here! Hitachi it was, I can still recall.

Today, Akiba has evolved from purely electronics to the internet and video gaming arenas and more especially into the center of the anime revolution. Anime is the Japanese form of cartoons and animation. And this place continues to evolve, with maid cafes being the current craze.

Here in Akiba are found all the unusual things that you would normally only fantasize about out. Almost everything you want can be found in about 400 to 500 stores surrounding the Akihabara train station. Building after building, each 7, 8 or 10 floors tall, all catering to a certain aspect of the electronic trade.
I went into Pockets, the store you see in the picture above top left (under the bridge). It sold nothing but used Apple products, all re-conditioned and looking new. G4 Macs were going for only US$300!

However, not everything is computer related. The building next door called Merci Love is an adult store with 8 floors of paraphernalia ranging from truly unmentionables for all your wildest fetishes to adults toys. to new as well as used uniforms and used underwear. (Whatever for, I'll leave that to your imagination)

Akihabara is that quirky side of Japan that you want to see. There is really nothing in the world that comes close to its uniqueness.

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