YOU KNOW ALL THE NAMES -- SEGA, NINTENDO, POKEMON, SONY, HITACHI. Walking the streets of Akihabara is like a dream come true for lovers of Japanese high-tech brand names, and for lovers of the anime boom. Everywhere you look, huge towers rise, stocked with all the latest treats and treatises from the highest echelons of the high tech world. Everywhere you look, familiar names crowd around you, like old childhood friends. Hey, isn't that Club Sega over there -- five floors of video games? Walk far enough and you might come across the Nintendo building which I photographed here. But for every name you know in Akihabara, there are scores of names you don't, and that is what makes exploring this Electric Town so enticing. How many people in Europe or the States know about the Laox Company, which maintains no less than eight huge malls in Akihabara? How many Indians or Malaysians have ever heard of Yodabashi, which is probably the shopping highlight of Akihabara at the current time. This website is an introduction to these companies and these stores, which have made Akihabara what it is today. You could easily spend a week trawling around these vast and often crowded skymalls, up and down the stairs of a hundred pencil-thin consumer towers. That is what Akihabara is about. Here are some of the best stores in the Electric Town, and a description of what they stock.
MonkeyDave (like me a passionate Akihabara addict -- but unlike me he can't go to Akihabara every single day of the week!) wrote on his website: "Akihabara is like the gaming/electronics mecca of the world. All the latest arcade and console games can be found here as well as all the hottest computer stuff and home electronics like those 3D TV glasses, and super tiny laptop PC's. It's pretty bad ass. They seemed to have just about every Japanese video game ever made there. There were probably over 20 shops there that just sold video games. I saw tons of used game shops that sold super Famicom and Genesis games for like 200-300 Yen. (that's like $2). There were probably more anime shops there than game stores. Most of them had some really cool stuff, but it seemed like more that half of it was porn in Akihabara."
MonkeyDave succinctly describes the major components which make up the Akihabara experience, especially for foreign visitors. Certainly, in the minds of many foreigners, that is what Akihabara basically is: computers and video games and anime, and to a lesser extent, hentai porn. You can find all of this in Akihabara of course, but this is not the whole picture. I will pass the mike over to a web writer who has plenty of working experience in Akihabara, Shannon Jacobs. Jacobs has a more downbeat and, perhaps, streetwise view of how Akihabara competes as an "electronic Mecca" on the global stage:
First, a word about the range of merchandise (in Akihabara), and the verdict is poor. Surprised? So was I, but in most parts of Akihabara's Electric Town there are only two models -- newer and newest. Yes, there are places in Akihabara where you can find some of the older stuff, but that's NOT why it's Akihabara. It's a bit hard to describe the dynamic that's at work here, but Akihabara is really the Mecca of the Early Adopters. Though Akihabara does sell a disproportionate share, it isn't the mass market of the average computers. The makers are channeling a big chunk of their newest offerings though Akihabara because that's the fastest way for them to figure out what's hot and what's not.
There are many older computers and unsortable things available in Akihabara, but most of them are just trying to benefit from the atmosphere. The crowd is there, and they are hungry to buy, and you can sell almost anything in an atmosphere like that, and someone is sure to try. All manner of strange and scarce electronic items can find a niche somewhere in Akihabara, but the spotlights are on the stars -- the newer and newest."
So, there you have it. I have to agree with Jacobs' opinion, negative though it may be -- quite a lot of floorspace in Akihabara is devoted to products of little interest to foreign shoppers, such as irons and vacuum cleaners and air-conditioners. Mind you the vacuum cleaners I saw this week at Yodabashi were pretty darn cool, and I still cherish the see-through plastic red techno iron I bought in Akihabara in 2002. But irons are irons and they will not excite the serious tech nut or visiting game fanatic. If you think that Akihbara is going to be some Oriental bazaar of retro computer parts and old handheld Donkey Kong games and so on, you might be disappointed. There is a market for retro gaming items in Japan -- they call them natsu-gei or "nostalgia games" -- but you will find Akihabara has its eyes to the future, not to the past. If you want validation of that, take a look at the cars driving down any Tokyo street. They are almost all impeccably new.
So here are those stores then:
(1-12-1 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5207 5027.
Akky operates three duty free shops in the area around Akihabara Station: Akky Main Store, Akky II and Akky III. Products on sale include a variety of electronic equipment for overseas use, including cameras, computers, televisions, DVD players and software.
Tokyo's popular Metropolis magazine wrote: "This chain of electronics stores has three branches in Akihabara that offer support in English, Chinese and Portuguese. Stores are packed with foreign-ready home electronics and travel goods. Their selection includes Windows computers and laptops with English OS as well as watches, cameras and suitcases."
Pictured on the right is Akky II which is situated on Chuo Dori, Akihabara's main drag.
All stores are open daily 9.30am to 8pm.
(4-3-2 Soto Kanda, on Chou Dori.)
Phone: 03/5209 3330. Web: http://www.animate.co.jp.
Open 10am to 7pm daily.
Cheap Bastard, a porn purveyor who has certainly left a mark on Akihabara, said this regarding Brainstorm: "On the street there was a vending machine with a Pepsi can display that had Pepsiman on it. For the unenlightened, Pepsiman is one of the primeval gods of Akihabara. When people are in distress, he appears and delivers Pepsi to them with a Schwaaa! Anyhow, Verge wanted a holy relic, and thought a Pepsi can with the deity himself on it would be an excellent find. He could put it on his shelf back home, right next to the can of corn soup he got from another vending machine. Sadly, when he put his tithe in the machine, all that emerged was a regular Pepsi can. Those rat bastards, have they no heart?! Why am I talking about this anyway? Okay... Uh, take the stairs up to the 2nd floor, where they sell regular and hentai manga and magazines. Going up to the 3rd floor, they sell doujinshi, doujinshi soft, doujinshi goods, some live-action porn, and some other hentai anime-type shit. It's all retail price."
The Studio Ghibli shop. These stores have lots of Ghibli character goods that can be hard to find in other stores.
Gamers Main Store: O_cP|PS|Vσcr.
(Takarada Building, 1-14-7 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298 8720. Web: web: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten2/main.html. Map: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten2/map.html.)
Gamers (of Broccoli and Di Gi Charat fame) has a bunch of stores throughout Tokyo. Their 8-story main store is located in Akihabara.
Store hours are from 11am to 8.30pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.
One foreign visitor said: "Eight floors of anime goodness. This main store is located just outside the Electric Town exit of Akihabara Station."
Gamers Second (Akihabara Outlet) Store: O_cP|PT|U~cERr2F.
(2nd floor Mitsu Urokobi Building, 1-15-6 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298-2015. Web: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten3/main.html. Map: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten3/map.html.
Located across the street from the main Gamers store (down the My Way 2 alley), this store is much smaller than the other Akihabara store, but it seems to contain a lot of close-out and sale items.
Open from 10am to 7.30pm daily.
Ishimaru Denki: O_cP|PT|S.
(1-15-4 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/3255 1600.
All stores open from 10am to 8pm.
Operating 10 stores across Akihabara, including the Main Store, Number One branch and Ekimae branch for electronic equipment, the Pasokon branch for PCs and the Game One and Soft One to Three branches for CDs, DVDs, games and anime related goods.
To give you an example of what Ishimaru is like: I visited Ishimaru Soft 3, on Sotobori St (I think!) This seven-storey complex is devoted to one niche market only -- jazz and classical music. Well, I guess that is two niche markets, but you get my point. This is seven floors of jazz and classical music CDs, DVDs, and the sound systems to play them on. Jazz seems the wrong kind of background music for Akihabara somehow, but it seems to be a popular store. It is also very comfortable and there are plenty of semi theatre areas, with chairs and chilled music playing. If you need to chill out on a fierce Tokyo summer's day, head to one of the Ishimaru Soft buildings. Buy a can of ice tea from the vending machine, settle down and enjoy the Akihabara ambience...
Ishimaru Game One is a good place for the serious gamer on leave in Japan -- click here for more information about this place.
Narrow seems to be the word to describe this needle-thin orange building, sandwiched between LAOX and Sega on Chou Dori near Akihabara Station. Not only is the building narrow, but the aisles are very narrow as well. Apart from that, it is stacked with anime porn -- adult videos or AV's as they are called in the trade. As tenwforty pointed out on AsiaScreens.com: "Two doors to the left of Rocket Soft is Lammtarra, which has an excellent selection of AV titles (including a lot of lesser-known labels) but has incredibly narrow aisles."
I personally find this an interesting store, though I am no hentai (the word roughly translates as "pervert" in Engliah.) As you head up the stairs (which are narrow, like everything else in the building) the vidoes and DVDs become progressively more hardcore. On the first and second floors it is fairly innocent enough -- lot of cute girls in school uniforms or maid outfits, a lot of lesbian action, tongues interlocking, bodies erupting in wild passion... The stairs go on, ever up. By the time you stumble out on to the fifth floor, things have gone too far, as far as I am concerned -- here it is almost exclusively girls with animals, girls chained up with the dogs which will no doubt be doing her in the video, sex in the stables. The amusing thing is, though this is probably the hardest of the hardcore porn, the customers look respectable enough -- salarymen on their lunch break and young students. Ahhhh... such is the paradox of Japan. Innocent but yet kinky -- and they don't even know how kinky they are. That's why I love Japan!
Interestingly, on the top of all this filth, there is a maid cafe called Lamm Maid Cafe. If you want to read about it, click here.
Operating eight stores in Akihabara, including the Main Store, Computer branch, Duty Free Akihabara branch and Watch & Camera Branch, the Mac Shop, the Gakkikan branch for music instruments and three Asobit City branches for hobby and game related products. Open daily 10am to 9pm. Some branches have longer opening hours.
(Please note: for the sake of confusing readers the Mac Shop is listed seperately. While being owned by the same parent company, this store has enough of an independent personality, to warrant an individual listing.)
Laox Asobit C.
Phone: 03/3257 2590. Web: www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/asobit_c.html. Map: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/images/map.gif.
The "C" in this department store name means "character", and we are not talking about Chinese characters here! Incidentally, "Asobit" is a play on words combining the Japanese for play (asobi) and the bit from bits and bytes fame. Semantics aside, however, this is one serious repository of anime paraphanalia. In the basement you will find the adult publications such as comics, novels (literary and adult-themed novels as well as books based on games), magazines and Gachapon. This is truly adults' only territory -- people under 18 will not be allowed down the stairs or out of the lift. Things are a bit more family-minded on the first floor, which is devoted to trading figures, miniatures, collectable sets, fancy characters and character-based publications and DVD's. The second floor is filled with new character figurines, Gundam plastic models, paints, and relared publications and DVD's. The third floor is the "Anime Character Floor" and features the likes of Microman, Pokemon, Transformers, Zoids, and American toys. There are also goodies for the girls. The fourth floor is devoted to special effects and heroes, with Masked Rider, Godzilla, Ultraman and company filling the shelves.
The highlight of the building, in my opinion, is the fifth floor. This is where (as I described in lurid detail somewhere above) I stumbled upon a row of lifesize anime dolls and maids with US$6000 price tags. The floor also includes blister figures and smaller dolls, as well as plenty of costumes.
Laox Asobit H.
Phone: 03/5298 3581. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/asobit_h.html. Map: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/images/map.gif.
The "H" in this department store name means "hobby", and this in my opinion is one of the best places in Akihabara for a serious hobbyist to get his or her rocks off. Gamers will also find plenty to entertain. It is certainly well stacked and stocked, up-to-date, and there are plenty of consoles where you can try out the latest games. I can imagine how cool it would be for a gamer in Japan to spend a few hours in this tower, slowly moving from game to game and floor to floor. But games are only the start of the fun here. There is even a shooting range where you can fire off a few rounds on the seventh floor. How cool is that! The first floor is devoted to the Gundam phenomenon while on the first floor there are the Playstation 2's and some girlie Nintendo models. The last time I was here, they were promoting the impending release of Final Fantasy XII, which is a big deal in Japan -- it is due to come out on March 16 2006. They were also promoting the Japanese martial arts adventure game Sengoku Musou which will come out on February 24. There were plenty of guys trying out the new games, and the atmosphere inside the store was electric, to say the least.
From the third floor up, hobbyism takes over. There are plastic scale models of various weapons of war, car and railroad models and then the gun floor on level six. Just a short escalator ride will take you to the shooting range on the seventh.
Laox Computer Kan: .
Phone: 03/5256 3111. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/computer_kan.html.
All that you would expect for a Japanese computer store. To see something interesting, head to the fourth floor to see the robots. You can also find mountains of mouses and laptops and printers and stuff, plenty of peripherals and software and web cameras, and anything else you can imagine computer-related.
Laox Home Electronics Store Akihabara: .
Phone: 03/3253 7111. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/laox_main.html.
This is actually the main store of Laox's Akihabara conglomeration, and stocks just about everything you could imagine. Native English speakers should head to the basement level, which sells English language computers, English game controllers and electronic dictionaries. Elsewhere in the building you will find mobile phones, digital cameras and faxes and batteries (first floor), MD players and portable TV's on the second floor, home theatre systems on the third floor (this is the place I used to hang out in on weekdays watching recent movies in splendid solitude!), and so on, and on. Fancy checking out the latest in Japanese plasma TV's -- head to the 4th floor (it is called the Visual Floor in the store guide!) It probably won't appeal much to foreign tourists, but on the higher floors you will find the air-conditioners and washing machines, the refrigerators and microwave ovens and the like. Watches and suitcases and travel goods are up the top on the seventh floor.
Laox Music Vox Akihabara: .
Phone: 03/3258 4141. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/music_vox.html.
This is one of the first Akihabara stores that I visited after moving to Japan in 2000, and I was amazed then, as I am amazed now, by the vast array of musical goods inside. Now it must be stated here that the true musical heart of Tokyo is not at Akihabara but just up the road, at Ochanomizu. But while Ochanomizu is dedicated to acoustic instruments and old guitars and the like, Laox Music Vox Akihabara is almost completely electronic (give or take the odd flute or drum, for example.) There is one floor of the building (the 6th floor) reserved for electronic pianos and wind instruments. There is also ample floorspace packed with amps, speakers, series upon series of synthes, microphones, hedonistic headphones, electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers and effecters and so on, and on. The building is also home to regular DJ demonstrations and performances, which might help add a bit of spice to a region of Tokyo conspicuously lacking in decent electronic music clublife. There are studios on the top floor.
(4-4-3 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5295 2427.
I owe this following information to The Duff Fields (check his site for a good guide to good shops in good Tokyo, especially those on the laser disk tip): "There are four of these in Akihabara. They carry new and used LDs (laser disks), CDs, etc and have seiriken. Their new CDs are discounted and the turn around on some of the used stuff is amazing. I've seen used LD box sets in Liberty the same week they were released. They're all on the northwest side of the station. Akihabara station can be tricky, so be good luck.
I recommend Liberty 4, because it's the easiest to find and has the most room to shop in. If you're looking for LDs, be sure to take the little elevator to the other LD floor. To get there, first find Chuo Dori. Just walk west from the station, it's the monster street with all the lights about 1 long block west. Take Chuo Dori north about 10 minutes, depending on how well you navigate the crowds. Liberty 4 will be on the east side of Chuo Dori, on the corner of a narrow street. It'll probably have a couple displays of LDs out front."
Open 10am to 10pm.
Pop Life Department.m's Shop:.
It's basically a sex goods emporium. I am not game enough to take photos inside but if you want to see how it looks, click here.
Cheap Bastard pointed out on his guide (mostly dedicated to porn): "This is a four-floor store that sells all sorts of pornographic shit. Funny, I didn't see any hentai manga, although they did have hentai anime. Anyhow, this used to be where a video store called Rocket Soft once lived, although that's not why I've included it in this guide. No, I've included it because of the surreal experience I had there. The store opened recently (recently meaning way back in May, damn I've been lazy about updating this section), and being a Curious Bastard I decided to see what was what. It was after working hours, so I found myself in a store full of young and middle-aged businessmen poring over, well, porn. This whole scene of salarymen earnestly scrutinizing various dildos, whips, riding crops, panties, and other accessories quite frankly scared the beejezus out of me. Having visited each floor briefly, I quickly departed this palatial proprietor of pr0n."
It should be noted that it is not only men who get into the costumes and sex aids at M's Shop. The adult convenience store manages to sell a lot of sexy costumes to girls. "When a girl tries one on, often she asks us to take a photo of her," a store PR guy said. "There are too many customers like that, and our walls are plastered with their photos."
I am heading up to Akihabara tomorrow to check this out for myself.
The Mac Store: O_cP|W|W.
(1-8-8 Soto Kanda, back from Chuo Dori on parallel street.)
Phone: 03/3251 4811. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/mac_store.html.
Stuffed with all manner of MacGoods... iPods, PowerMacs and iBooks, etc. The first floor is devoted to the iPods and iLife phenomenon, while you can find Mac servers and routers and network equipment on the second floor. The top floor (the fifth) features some preloved Macintoshes on sale for the masses.
Mac lovers are a special breed of a people -- you could almost say a people apart from the common masses. Perhaps reflecting this, the Mac Shop is situated away from the mellee and crush of Chuo Dori, on a parallel sidestreet. For a map to get there (admittedly it is in Japanese, but it is better than nothing), click here.
Radio Hall: Next to Denki Gai exit of Akihabara Station.
Harmful is a man much like myself -- a foreigner living in Japan, a self-confessed anarchist and lover of the Scandinavian metal sound who also seems to spend a lot of time tinkering with his website. He does a pretty mean guide to Tokyo, and one of the places he recommends for tourists and travellers to visit while they are in Japan, is Akihabara's Radio Hall.
In his Akihabara tour guide, Harmful says:
"Akihabara -- call it Akiba for short -- is on the JR Yamanote line. Go out the "Akihabara Electric Town" (Denki Gai)exit, and then GO LEFT once the machine eats your ticket. once you get to the door, turn RIGHT. you are now, hopefully, standing outside and shaking your head in bewilderment at the 1,000,000 billboards that plaster every square inch. quick, look at your ass! It has an ad on it now, doesn't it? how do they DO that??? anyway, if you look to your right, you will see a huge yellow neon sign on the opposite side of the street. the sign is saying: @WIοΩ@iradio hall)
(pronounced Rah-jee-oh kai-kann.)
This is like THE toy store. go up the escalator.
2F: Star Wars / Western toys and figures, as well as a hundred models of construction equipment, cranes, etc.
3F: Porn and Manga.
4F: just an INSANE amount of tiny stores selling TINY toys.
5F: merely a "regular" computer store.
6F: THE PAYOFF. VOLKS doll store. is just this huge place full of doll parts, doll clothes, doll eyes, and of course lots of maniacs. again, one of those places which you might not want to buy anything but it is good like a museum!"
I (Rob Sullivan) recently visited this labyrinthe to take in the experience first hand -- and I have to agree with Harmful, this is one of the wildest malls in Akihabara. To read about all about my Radio Hall Encounter, click here.
Sato Musen: O_cP|PP|PP.
(1-11-11 Soto Kanda, immediately opposite Ahikabara Station.)
Phone: 03/3253 5871. Web: http://www.satomusen.co.jp.
This is the one with the wierd cheetah logo.
It also has one of the most central locations of all the Akihabara stores -- well, the head store does at least!
Walk out of the station (Denki Gai exit) and there it is, in all its feline finality!
Sato Musen operates five electronics shops in the Akihabara area, including the Main Store, the Ekimae Number One, Five and Six branches and store fronts in the Radio Kaikan Building near the Denkigai Exit of Akihabara Station.
Open daily 10:30 to 20:00.
There are a few Sega outlets in Akihabara, and they are all must-sees for all those Sega fanatics out there:
Club Sega: .
Remember the local video arcade you used to hang out when you were in your teens, playing Pacman and Galatica (if you old enough)... take that nostalgic old small town arcade and multiply it by a factor of a thousand, and you would have an approximation of the Club Sega Arcade in Akihabara. As I stated before, this is five floors of nothing else but games. It is worth repeating that, for the third time. This is five floors of games. A serious gamer could easily spend a life in here. Just duck out every mealtime to one of the nearby Maid Cafes, to stock up on warm human company...
One visitor to Club Sega said: "Yes,I loved the place... The first floors are for "UFO" machines where you "can get" some Evangelion, Capcom and Sega figures (and more stuff too, after popping hundred yen coins into the coin slot). Five floors of arcade games... and not just Sega. And this is not the only one (Sega building) I saw."
"One floor was full of Street Fighter Hyper Fighting (the new mix between all versions, available for Japanese PS2) machines, all networked and in a tournament." Click the nearest link above to see photos of Club Sega in action.
There is another Sega institution across the road, up closer to the station -- and it too is packed with games and gamers.
Shosen Book Tower: _c²vΤ¬P|PP|P.
(1-11-1 Kanda-Sakuma-cho, on the Showa Dori Highway near the Akihabara Hibiya Line station.)
Phone: 03/5296 0051.
Open 11am to 7.30pm on weekdays, and from 11am to 7pm on weekends. Closed the first and/or second Tuesday every month.
Mindspring says: "Look for the tall, blue glass building southeast of the station, right in front of the Hibiya line's Akihabara station. I've never been here, but I hear that it's nice. Won't you tell me if you go? ^_^
Sofmap operates as many as 16 shops in the Akihabara area including multiple branches, which specialize in used computers. The stores are numbered from 1 to 14 plus the main store and the Kakuta branch. A duty free floor can be found in store number one.
Open daily 11:00 to 20:00.
Said one Sofmap worker: "At Sofmap sometimes they are linked to special small lots, often of slightly older machines and the kind of stuff that other big stores route to their outlet stores. Sometimes these prices are also linked to high-volume merchandise, but in those cases the third-level price will pretty quickly become a posted second-level (spy) price.
"Price number four? Probably the "set prices", where extra stuff is added in to make a special set with a special price. However, apart from printer sets, those sets are most often attempts to offset basic problems with the maker's configuration. While they are sometimes quite attractive, they are fundamentally remedial, so you need to be careful there--maybe there are other problems, too.
Is that all? I'm afraid not. Maybe Sofmap has an unusually complicated pricing structure, but there are still a couple more wrinkles in there before we even get to the fluctuating inventory problems and latest special promotions... My personal goal is simple--help the customer get the best computer and software for their real needs for the lowest price. But much easier said than done. If'n you want to ask other questions or maybe even offer suggestions for what I should write next time, the best way to reach me is via firstname.lastname@example.org is my main public one. Or you might even catch me at Sofmap. Chicago, 4th floor, Wednesdays and weekends for now."
Here is a description of Yamagiwa I picked up on the Net: "Go along Chuo-dori past the big blue and yellow striped Yamagiwa department store sign (this is more obvious at night...). Yamagiwa have a number of branches in Akihabara. First on your right past the second Yamagiwa store is a side turning with Yamagiwa Anime, Yamagiwa Soft and Yamagiwa U-Shop, which sells used CD and DVD. Further along the main road is Tora no Ana, right next to Animate's Akihabara branch. They both sell manga, books, DVD, games, merchandise and models, in an area already saturated with such trade, although Tora no Ana seem to be more a secondhand dojinshi outlet these days. Animate has a far better stock of general anime related goods and they give you freebies... although Tora no Ana have a better stock of artbooks. Look in both;)"
"The best strategy with these high-rise stores is to take the lift (if you can find it) to the top floor and work your way down by the stairs. If you get groggy take a rest. It's probably better to avoid travel to Japan at all in summer, the heat will make shopping in a place like Akihabara a less than positive experience."
Opened in September 2005, this monolith of a building has become one of the stars of Akihabara. Yodabashi itself is one of the most popular department store chains in Japan, with its headquarters in Shinjuku. At the time of writing (2006), scarcely a day goes by on which I don't spot at least a couple of shoppers clutching its distinctive green carry bag. Unlike most other electronic shops in Akihabara, Yodabashi Akiba is located on the east side of the station. This has area of Akihabara was formerly a concrete wasteland, but it has no sprung up with a multitude of new developments, apartment towers, the Tsukuba Express rail line, and on Sunday afternoons at least, plenty of loud buskers and otaku.
Inside Yodabashi Akiba itself, it is like a typical Japanese mall but on a somewhat vaster (and for the moment, fresher) scale. There are all the usual computers and mobile phones and TVs and other entertainment necessities. There is also a full floor of gourmet restaurants on the top, a bookshop (I didn't see many English titles there, however -- if you want English language books you will have to head to Yaesu Book Store near Tokyo, just a couple stops down the line on JR Yamanote Sen.) There is a Towers Record outlet and the last time I visited, the Arctic Monkeys were getting a lot of their promotional attention. As far as I know, this is the first Towers Records to open on this side of town.
Like any big development, Yodabashi Akiba has attracted a school of smaller developments around its base. According to visitor David Chien, this was actually the best part of Akihabara. Like Jacobs, he is somewhat cynical (or realistic) about claims that Akihabara is the shopping hub of the Entire Universe. But in Chien's view, Yodabashi Akiba is kind of cool: "It has to be said since many things on sale at Akihabara can be bought at home," he writes, "there is little real reason to shop there. The only happy place? Akihabara station facing Yodabashi Akiba, they had a
new 99 Yen Store open there. Given the stronger dollar, that's about 83 Yen to
buy something that would normally cost 99 Yen. Best bargin I found? 99 yen
mini pliers (hey, i needed one anyways). You can also find drinks, gift bags,
and other useful nicnacks there for 99 yen."
You've got to love those Japanese discount shops!
You will find this one in the arcade around Yodabashi Akiba!