Translated by Shinji Takaramura
How Akihabara Became An Electric Town
Written by yohei matsui
This article is about the history of Akihabara, and how it became famous as an "electric" town.
Akihabara is famous all over the world for its otaku culture, and also as an area which boasts a number of electric appliance stores. But how did so many stores come to Akihabara in the first place?
The reason lies in the Electric Town, which still remains in Akihabara.
How Akihabara Became Famous for Electrical Appliances
In 1945, Japan lost the war with the United States, and Tokyo was left in ruins. Food and daily necessities were scarce, so people started doing business on their own, and started roadside shops.
Those unofficial market areas, where the shops gathered, were called Yami Ichi (black markets). It was no different in Akihabara, and black markets cropped up all over the area.
At that time, one student sold a handmade radio at the market. It became very popular, and other shops started dealing electric appliances as well. That was the beginning of Akihabara's Electric Town.
Before long, the GHQ (*1) ordered all the street vendors in Akihabara to move to a certain spot. That spot became Electric Town. Afterwards, other shops came to Akihabara, and it became an area filled with electrical appliance stores.
*1 GHQ stands for "General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers," which occupied Japan at the time.
How to Reach Electric Town
Electric Town is right near JR Akihabara Station. But, its entrance may be hard to find, so we will guide you with photographs.
First, go out through JR Akihabara's Electric Town Entrance.
You will then find yourself at an open plaza.
Don't go through the plaza though, but turn left, and head for the red building with the "SEGA" logo.
Keep walking, and you will find a number of small stores selling electrical appliances. This is Electric Town.
Narrow alleys with electrical appliances on both sides
Narrow alleys run through the Town like a maze, and small shops line both sides of the alley.
All the shops have their own specialty. This shop exclusively deals in surveillance cameras.
This is a electronic tube, an item that audiophiles dream of getting their hands on. There are shops that deal rare items hard to find at large chain stores.
This shop deals in special conversion plugs for audio equipments. At first glance, it was hard to recognize exactly what they are selling.
This is the first model of the Walkman, made by the Japanese company, Sony. This item was not for sale, but the beauty of the shops here, is that you might find other very rare items like this one.
On the second floor, shops also line both sides of the narrow alley.
In the End...
Akihabara, which started as a town full of electric appliance stores, also became famous as a place where anime and manga lovers gather.
Visit the Electric Town, where it all started, and you will be able to understand Akihabara in a different sense.
Akihabara Electric Town
Station: JR Akihabara Station
Access: 1-minute walk from the Akihabara Station Electric Town Exit