close

Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan. Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan.
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare. An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare.
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife. Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife.
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan. Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan.
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara. The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara.
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower. Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower.
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving. Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving.
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky. The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky.
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Shopping

Akihabara 秋葉原

Akihabara—Japan's electric town is the epicenter of otaku culture, anime and offbeat cafes

Once all about gadgets and the latest electronics, Akihabara is now an even mix of electrical goods megastores, maid cafes and all things anime. To go with its transformation, it has a new nickname—Akiba.

Don't Miss

  • Retro video game retailer Super Potato
  • Visiting a themed cafe
  • Handicraft shopping at 2k540

How to Get There

Akihabara Station is on the JR Yamanote and JR Sobu lines. It can also be accessed by the Keihin Tohoku Line, TX Tsukuba Express, and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.

Akiba's past

Akihabara got its nickname Electric Town from the black market that sprouted there after WWII. Common items being sold at the time included wires, cables, light bulbs and other electrical bits and pieces.

The alleys and small shops that flourished in Akihabara's heyday still remain, somewhat intact, in arcades like Radio Kaikan and in a few other places mostly near the JR Sobu Line tracks.

As Japan grew more prosperous, Akihabara became a magnet for electric appliance manufacturers. The mega shops specializing in household electronics competed for Japanese customers buying their first fridges, televisions, washing machines and air conditioners.

This made Akihabara an icon of Japanese prosperity in the 1970s. But as these appliances became commonplace, Akihabara shifted gears towards calculators and watches, toys and games, and from the 1990s, computers and other technology.

Akiba—the hub of Japan's otaku culture

While shops offering a reminder of the old Akihabara do still exist, today's Akiba is focused on otaku culture, including anime, manga, smartphones, games, maids and cosplay. Loosely translated "otaku" means "geek." But unlike the connotations "geek" has in English, "otaku" is more of a cultural identity that self-proclaimed sorts assume with pride.

Retro gaming heaven

Super Potato is a famous video game store that epitomizes the otaku lifestyle. It is located in a small, nondescript building near an alley where maids and other Akiba mainstays hand out leaflets.

Decked out with retro games over three floors, relive your childhood by wandering through aisles of original Nintendos (Famicon) and games, as well as games for classic consoles such as the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and the original Game Boy. It is also home to a game arcade that features, of course, games from the 1980s and 1990s.

While there are other stores that also sell retro games, they pale in comparison. In the parlance of the fans both Japanese and foreign, Super Potato is where otaku go.

Not your average cafes

Akiba is home to many maid cafes, which are essentially cosplay restaurants where waitresses dressed as maids serve their "masters," or their customers.

There is also a slew of animal cafes where you can hang out with owls, cats, otters, rabbits or hedgehogs over your afternoon cup of coffee, as well as themed cafes including a Gundam Cafe that pays homage to the beloved anime robots from the series.

J-Pop's biggest idol group

Akiba is the birthplace of one of J-Pop's most prominent and lucrative girl groups, AKB48. AKB stands for "Akiba," or "Akihabara," while 48 is the number of members in the group. Unsurprisingly, Akiba is where idols—and not just AKB48—tend to hold fan meets for their mainly otaku fanbase.

These events are made far more fascinating by the light-stick waving otagei, which refers to the cheering gestures by high-spirited otaku fans.

Another Akiba

The 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan is another world altogether in Akiba, beneath the JR Yamanote Line tracks running between Akihabara and Okachimachi stations.

Here, you will find artisan crafts from across Japan, made with such attention to detail and design that they will be difficult to find anywhere else in the world. These products include textiles, pottery, furniture, stationery, clothing and even hats.

A final word on... food

People tend to spend a long time when they visit Akiba, often all day. Hence, there is an abundance of food options for shoppers and otaku alike.

You will be surprised by the range of eateries serving up good, inexpensive curry, ramen, or other hearty meals in Akiba; a budget gourmet's paradise for the quality, price, and sheer variety of options.