The fact that places like Akihabara exist, but are over 6000 miles away is both and exciting and painful one. Existing and constantly evolving through the years Akiba’s place as the worlds greatest anime mecca is certainly well known, but I feel it’s vastly underappreciated by tourists and even those who are on a pilgrimage of sorts to the Otaku Holy Land.
Countless shops, eateries and other mostly otaku culture themed places sprawled throughout its blocks, yet for most the effort is just not made to discover what it really has in store. From the oblivious tourist who wander the floors of a club sega looking lost and only giving a random game a literal poke. To those whose giant backpacks who block the paths through a store. Their presence is only becoming more pronounced as Japan continues its major up-climb in tourism.
There’s a massive amount of oddities and charming shops to be found with a little exploration, I discovered down a street I have not really traveled much in this most recent trip, what I could only presume to be the worlds first maid optometrist shop. I would have never guessed that such a thing would exist but there it was. It’s really easy to get lost down the main strip of Akiba, and while there is definite excitement in wandering up the floors of a Sofmap or trying to find something in Yodobashi Camera, coming across a mostly empty retro game store manned by a 90 year old lady is what makes exploring the Akiba area fun.
And to those who look through the arcades and stop and play a House of the Dead 2 game from the 90’s, give one of the modern titles a try. The rhythm section pretty much requires no Japanese knowledge and any of the modern games will have such a long and complex tutorial when you play for the first time, you will have no problem figuring out out to play after a short while. It sure beats looking rather gloomy and lost when its blazing hot and humid outside.
To bring this all to a wrap, Akihabara still has all the charm and wonder than it did when I first visited a mere 5 years ago. There are parts that are different, and you can still get flooded by tourist traps and busloads of people at the wrong times. But there’s still so much to be had. As I was wandering about killing time before my flight back home, I came to the realization that there was a small section that I never even though about existing near Suehirocho station and gave it a look and found a few fairly neat stores that I may have bought from had I not been already packed.
tldr: Akiba is still awesome.