Friday, February 08, 2013

Shopping in Akihabara

Akihabara Shopping

Shopping in Akihabara is hands down a must-do thing if you are a gadget or electronic lover. My recent trip to Tokyo in 2012 left me with choices of places to visit here and this was on top of my list as the last time I visited Akihabara was back in 1990.

That was 22 years ago and I had to see how things have changed since my last visit here. To my surprise, the development of Akihabara left me speechless as, from a mere few streets of electrical gadgets, it has extended into such a large place.

I remember back then, I managed to cover most of the main places in under half a day. This time around, that same time only let me see probably half of the entire place.

Shopping in Akihabara

Electronics Gadgets Akihabara
Gadgets and such sold in boxed outside stores

I remember those days where traders would stand on boxes with loudhailers yelling in Japanese about the sale going on. Headphones, mini disc players, Walkman's were the rave then.

These days, I simply saw young Japanese girls dressed in cute uniforms giving out leaflets to passerby's inviting them to go to the selected shops.

They can be spotted at most junctions along the main street here. Even in the cold weather, the were seen mostly in skimpy school uniforms or maid costumes with colorful wigs and knee-high stockings. Ahh... Japan!

Street Photos of Akihabara
Main shopping area

It seems like the bigger corporations have put dominance along the main streets with huge mega electrical stores and hyper marts. Some even multiple floors high.

My exploration once again took me towards the back lanes of Akihabara where I stumbled upon the good old small vendors that sold all sorts of gadgets, second-hand goods and many other interesting and quirky items.

It is at these little stores where you have to sieve through boxes of stuff and you may find something interesting.

Camera Sale Akihabara
Cameras sold on the streets in Akihabara

While walking around the back lanes, I also noticed many Japanese Maid Cafes operating especially on the first floor of the buildings.

Cute Japanese girls in maid costumes would be standing at the balcony clapping their hands and shouting some Japanese words to get customers' attention.

Well, that being one of the top novelties in Japan, I totally pushed that curiosity out of my head and continued with my fascination with the electric city here. Really, I did!

Gadgets Sale in Akihabara
Electrical goods on display

Among the things that amazed me were how some of these vendors put really high-end electrical items like video cameras and digital cameras on plain tables with a tablecloth outside their shop for display.

However, in Kuala Lumpur, they would be behind lock and key in a glass cabinet which is out of reach from the customer.

A Canon Video Recorded which sold for $500 here was selling for only $150 there. Again, I was just astonished and went along my way.

Other items that were interesting included hard disc which came in 2.5 to 3 Terra Bytes and the price was 30-40% cheaper than here in Malaysia!

Smartphone Promotions in Akihabara
Cheap phones and tablets

In 2012, the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 was the hottest item around and over here in Akihabara, they were selling for dirt cheap! The only catch, it was all in Japanese.

I managed to find a salesperson who spoke very basic English and he told me that the cheap units were actually only for Japanese use and not overseas.

So if you are looking for really good deals here, you should double-check if the items are for worldwide use.

However, exploring a camera shop was interesting as the items sold there were in fact for worldwide use.

All models are about $75-150 cheaper than in Malaysia but here is the catch - The units all come with Japanese text display. So you need to get them to change it to English before leaving the store.

For Japanese Manga lovers or gamers, this would also be a haven for you. My advice, bring a Japanese friend who can translate everything to you, otherwise, you will be in for some language issues if you do not speak Japanese.

There were tons of games being sold, some even in bundles. A friend of mine who was exploring the other parts found a super deal here.

He went through some of the boxes displayed outside a store and six-second hand Nintendo DX Lite sets which were selling for about $30 each.

Taking all six, he eventually got them for $25 each. So, if you are into certain electrical or gaming stuff, this would be your mecca.

Main Street Akihabara
Akihabara main street

The rest of the afternoon, I indulged myself by trying to cover most of the place but ended up not buying anything.

I was looking for a DSLR camera so most of the places I ventured into were camera stores. I saw a few but again, the Japanese in-screen text turned me off.

Maybe the next time I visit Akihabara, I would have something that I would need. Who knows. Anyway, below are a few more pictures taken around this amazing place.  

Photos of Akihabara

Girl in Akihabara
A Japanese promoter outside one of the electrical shops
Akihabara SEGA Building
Sega Building

Akihabara Maid Cafes
A popular Maid Cafe in Akihabara

Tokyo Maid Costumes for Sale
Japanese Maid Costumes for sale!

How To Get To Akihabara? 

Once you are in Tokyo, you just need to get on the Tokyo Metro or any other main train service and look for the Akihabara Station. Most trains would pass this station too.

Also, the best way to travel around Tokyo is by using the subway system which is very impressive. There are signages in English, and the ticket vending machines are in multiple languages.

My trip to Tokyo was via AirAsia X as the airline flies straight into Haneda Airport in Tokyo, which I find is much more convenient compared to Narita Airport which I also reviewed.

This was my second trip here after visiting Osaka with the same airline a few months earlier in 2013. Find out what to do in Osaka if you plan to visit this other amazing Japanese city.

Tokyo Akihabara Photo
The streets of Akihabara in Tokyo
Final Thoughts on Shopping in Akihabara

Overall, Akihabara is a must-visit place in Tokyo if you love electronics and gadgets. On the bright side, if you are following your spouse, friend or loved one, do check out some of the quirky items being sold there.

What I mean is that I saw some shops selling - of all things, Maid Costumes! Ready to wear too. I guess there is a market for these and they were relatively cheap too.

Food is available throughout the area as there are some great Japanese Ramen shops and some popular fast food joints.

At the end of the day, I would recommend spending at least 4 to 6 hours here if you plan to do some shopping in Akihabara.

1 comment:

Samsung Rex 90 S5292 GPS said...

Tokyo shopping comes in many shapes and sizes and suits all pockets and budgets. Choose from every kind of fashion conceivable, accessories, gadgets and electronics.