Translated by Lester Somera
Akihabara Travel Guide: Visit Japan's Electronics And Otaku Center!
Akihabara is a flourishing consumer electronics district, and also doubles as a place to experience otaku culture. Along with directions to the heart of Akihabara, this article lists 44 of the best spots to visit for shopping, gaming, dining and more!
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Akihabara - The Heart of Otaku Culture
Located in the heart of Tokyo, the Akihabara district is one of the capital’s most popular tourist spots. Easily accessible from Ueno, Asakusa and the rest of Tokyo, throngs of international visitors regularly head to Akihabara.
In the past, Akihabara flourished as Japan’s leading electronics district, and its streets were lined with specialist shops which dealt in goods like amateur radio equipment and computer parts. These days, while the number of specialist shops has dwindled, there are plenty of big-box stores where you can purchase reasonably priced consumer electronics, and you can still feel the vestiges of the former glory of “Electric Town.”
Akihabara’s other main draw is its status as a stronghold for Japan’s unique otaku culture. There are rows upon rows of shops which are all about otaku culture, including places that sell anime goods, maid cafes, and vintage toy stores line the streets, making Akihabara the place to go if you want to pick up unique otaku souvenirs.
Table of Contents
1. Akihabara Culture
2. Akihabara Area Guide
3. How to Get to Akihabara
4. From Akihabara Station to Electric Town
5. Computers and Electronics Shopping
6. Maid and Themed Cafes
7. Gaming Hot Spots
8. Anime Goods and Cosplay Supplies
9. Internet Cafes
10. Game Centers and Arcades
11. Other Noteworthy Spots
12. Dining in Akihabara
13. Hotels in Akihabara
14. What to Do in Order to Enjoy Your Time in Akihabara
15. Other Useful Things to Note
Akihabara has developed some unique cultural facets in its role as a transmitter of Japanese pop culture to the world. Here we’ll talk a little about otaku, idols and cosplayers.
It’s difficult to nail down an exact definition of otaku, but generally it refers to someone who is fanatically devoted to their interests. Akihabara has long been known as sacred territory for otaku, with its wealth of anime goods stores and hobby shops. Standard otaku fashion also exists, and you can see examples when you visit Akihabara. For more info, check out our otaku fashion article (Japanese).
The eighth floor of Akihabara’s Don Quijote is home to the AKB Theater, where Japan’s most popular idol group, AK48, holds public performances. Akihabara has other event venues where idol groups perform, and young idols also perform on the street. Perhaps you’ll bear witness to the top idols of tomorrow! Check out our Representing Japan And Akibahara: AKB48! article for more.
Cosplayers put together outfits to become the spitting images of anime, manga and movie characters, and Akihabara has rows upon rows of cosplay shops to help them do so. Places like ACOS Akihabara and Studio Crown provide the perfect venue for people who’ve never tried cosplay to give it their best shot.
Akihabara Area Guide
The Area Around the Central Intersection
The Main Street crossing of Electric Town is bustling with people coming and going. The surrounding area is populated with rows of izakayas, restaurants and cafes, as well as hobby stores where you can buy souvenirs and duty-free shops. On Sundays and public holidays, the crossing is closed to traffic, making it a pedestrian’s paradise. Maids and budding idols perform in the street as well. You could say that this is the place to really feel the true vibe of Akihabara.
Akihabara Station - Around the Electric Town Entrance
All around JR Akihabara Station’s Electric Town entrance, there are rows of shops selling computer parts and amateur radio equipment. You can see how Akihabara used to prosper as the definitive place for electronics. Along with maid cafes, the surrounding area is also home to the AKB Theater, where you can see Japan’s top idol group, AKB48, perform on stage. Definitely check it out when you visit Akihabara.
Junk Street is the alley behind the Main Street. The storefronts along Junk Street have bare PC parts out on display, and these places handle goods that are hard to find at regular electronics stores. Not limited to just PC parts, Junk Street shops handle various miscellaneous goods, with well-established eateries and all sorts of shops. Junk Street is a must if you want to savor some local Akihabara flavor. Check out this article about taking a jaunt down Junk Street (Japanese) for more.
Outside Electric Town
If you venture outside of Electric Town’s borders, the streets will be filled with towering office buildings. There aren’t really any places to buy souvenirs here, but you can enjoy a stroll along the Kanda River as you gaze up at the high-rise buildings. If you’re looking for a way to fully enjoy your time in this area, you can try going on an Akihabara Sightseeing Tour With Maids! Think about checking this out when you visit Akihabara.
How to Get to Akihabara
Akihabara is easily accessible from Tokyo’s major stations. Here we’ll talk about how to get there from these stations, as well as how to get there from the Haneda and Narita airports.
There are two routes from Haneda to Akihabara.
1. [Haneda Airport]→(Keihin Kyuko Line)→[Shinagawa]→(Keihama Tohoku Line/Yamanote Line)→[Akihabara]
From Haneda Airport, take the Keihin Kyuko Line to Shinagawa Station, then transfer to either the Keihin Tohoku Line or Yamanote Line to get to Akihabara. Most trains on the Keihin Kyuko Line should go directly to Shinagawa Station, but some of these trains are bound for Yokohama. If you get on one of these trains, make sure to transfer at Keikyu Kamata Station. If you’re on a direct train to Shinagawa, the journey should take about 35 minutes, depending on time of day. This route costs 580 yen.
2.[Haneda Airport]→(Tokyo Monorail)→[Hamamatsu-cho]→(Keihin Tohoku Line)→[Akihabara]
From Narita Airport
To get from Narita Airport to Akihabara, the Keisei Line is the most convenient.
[Keisei Narita Airport Station]→(Keisei Line)→[Ueno Station]→(JR Line/Tokyo Metro Higaya Line)→[Akihabara Station]
Three trains leave from Narita Airport Terminal 1 on the Keisei Line: the Express Limited train, the Access Limited train, and the Sky Liner. They all have different fares and travel times, so choose the best one for you.
Traveling from Narita Airport to Ueno Station:
Express Limited - 75 minutes, 1030 yen
Access Limited - 60 minutes, 1240 yen
Sky Liner - 40 minutes, 2470 yen
From Ueno Station to Akihabara Station, going via the JR Keihin Tohoku Line or Yamanote takes three minutes and costs 140 yen. Via the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, it takes three minutes and costs 170 yen.
From Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station
[Tokyo Station]→(Keihin Tohoku Line/ Yamanote Line)→[Akihabara Station]
[Shinjuku Station]→(JR Sobu Line)→[Akihabara Station]
[Shibuya Station]→(JR Yamanote Line)→[Akihabara Station]
Read A Guide To Akihabara! From Inexpensive Electronics To Otaku Gifts for more information.
From Akihabara Station to Electric Town
Getting from Akihabara Station to Electric Town is a bit complicated. Here we’ll explain how to get from various station platforms to the Electric Town entrance.
From the JR Line/Keihin Tohoku Line/Yamanote Line/Sobu Line to Electric Town
The platform for the JR Sobu Line is one floor above the platforms for the Keihin Tohoku and Yamanote Lines. If you took the Sobu Line, look for the yellow sign that marks the Electric Town entrance and head downstairs to the Keihin Tohoku Line and Yamanote Line platforms. After you’ve gone down to the platforms, go around the stairs and take the escalator. Once you’re on the ground floor, head left and you’ll find yourself at the Electric Town entrance.
From the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line/Tsukuba Express to Electric Town
If you came on the Hibiya Line, head towards exit 3; if you came on the Tsukuba Express, head to exit A2. Go out the exit, head towards the JR central ticket gate, and go past it. Once you pass the ticket gate, a connecting passageway for the Tozai line will come into view. Take the entrance across from this passageway and continue until you come to the Electric Town entrance. For more information, check out Akihabara Station: Head to the Holy Land - Electric Town.