Even if you are not into technology, Akihabara is a place which should be included on any tour of the Eastern Capital. As with Shinjuku or Shibuya, this is one place you encounter modern Japan in its purest essence. Apart from the electronic stores and tech markets, there are also some interesting attractions in the area, such as the Tokyo Transport Museum (now relocated.) Kanda, just one stop away on the famous Yamanote rail line, is also interesting with its dark steel alleyways, and noodle restautants squeezed under busy train lines.
Within its 50 city-block radius, Akihabara offers the shopper a combination of box-like 7/8/9-storey department stores, and narrow alleys of older specialist shops. The big, new department stores offer the latest in consumer goods, categorised by floor -- perhaps mobile phones and electronic English/Japanese dictionaries and MP3 players on the first floor, fridges and toasters on the third floor, home entertainment solutions on the fifth floor, etc. Apart from the big stores, however, another side of Akihabara can be seen in the old alleyway shops (often built right under overhead train lines!) There are little alleyways filled with electronics components and enough raw materials to make 20 Radio Shacks red with shame. Like this store, for instance, which specialized in switches. They sell switches and that's all! Each little cubby was staffed by a disinterested shopkeep, who was usually hunkered over some personal electronics project of their own.
Welcome to the Akihabara City Guide and Crowded World Anime Hub. Intended to be an evolving project, this website attempts to detail all of the little shops, megastores, cafes, sushi restaurants, pr0n parlors and doll hotels which exist in Akihabara now, or will exist there in the future, so long as I am alive! It is an ambitious thing to say, but I want to become the King of Akihabara, and produce the best and most knowledgable website about Akihabara on the Web! It helps that Akihabara is just down the road from my house, and I visit there everyday (note: I have now relocated.) This site is intended for foreigners (gaijin) planning a visit to Japan, Japanese who live in Japan and who ought to know better than rely on a foreigner for information about their own backyard... and also for game, anime and manga lovers who dig Japan but can't get here anyway except via their broadbank connection. This website is dedicated to you.
At the moment Maid Cafes are huge in Akihabara. Not all visiting gaijin are impressed with this development or appreciate/understand the obsession with maids, but that is the reality -- you can either lump it or leave it. I prefer to lump it. Others are not so flexible or open-minded. As one foreigner disappointed with the direction Akihabara has taken in recent years, Delta Sigma, wrote on his site:
"When I was a child, I knew about Akihabara. Not much else about Japan, it was irrelevant. Akihabara was the place when Super Mario Bros. 3 came out before I could get it. It was where people waited in line for Final Fantasy IV, and weird white Game Gears were released. You could go there and swim in a pool of dreams, surrounded by the best memories from my adolescence.
"Akihabara's not like that. Maybe it never was, but if you go there now, prepare to see some steamy-lensed, backpack carrying social outcasts and prepubescent animated pornography. And a shitload of confused gaijin. I don't know when it happened, but Akiba changed from an electronics haven into an Anime hell. I felt like grabbing the nearest fat-faced moe-moe maid uniform loving densha otoko motherfucker and shouting "what did you do to my childhood!?!" However, I was afraid i'd get my hands sweaty..."
I have to stress though that Delta Sigma goes on to confess that he still loves Akihabara, despite all the wierd repressed geeks on the streets. Personally wierd people don't phase me in the least -- they always add to the character of the place in my opinion!
But anyway, there you have it -- both sides of the coin, the good the bad and the ugly about Akihabara Electric Town. Is Akihabara an electronic paradise, or an anime hell? I fear that both descriptions are true. But that is what makes Akihabara so cool! In other Asian countries (Thailand) for example, the sex industry means a lot of little girls and boys in seedy brothels and lady-boys prowling the streets. In most countries in fact the sex trade revolves around human slavery. But not so in Akihabara, Japan. This must be the only place where people pay money to have sex with toys. There is something very distinctively Japanese and Shinto-like about men spending good money to pass the night with a doll in a maid costume. But that is what they do in Akihabara, as my research has revealed! If you want to see the real Akihabara, the Akihabara they don't show you in the travel guides, then please stay here and read on. And if you have some information which might enrich these pages, please pass it on to me.