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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
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. 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
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours 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
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders 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
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life 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 also anime central and home to 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

JR Akihabara Station is served by 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 World War II. Common items being sold at the time included wires, cables, lightbulbs and other electrical bits and pieces.

The alleys and small shops that flourished in Akihabara's heyday still remain, somewhat intact, in arcades like the 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 specialising 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, Japan's otaku hub

While shops offering a reminder of the old Akihabara do still exist, today's Akiba is focused on anime, manga, smartphones, games, maids, cosplay and other otaku pursuits. 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 epitomises 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 are 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 fanmeets for their mainly otaku fanbase.

These events are made far more fascinating by the light-stick waving ota-gei, 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.