If you’re young and hip, or just want to act like you are, then Tokyo’s Akihabara district is the place to be. And luckily now, as it is becoming somewhat of a tourist-attraction (I say somewhat because if you catch it now, you can still see it before the tourist hordes discover it) you can even get a tour of Akihabara in English.
But first, what exactly is Akihabara? This is the district in Tokyo that is famous for its maid cafes, anime and pop culture stores and electronics outlets. This is where the geeks, or otaku in Japanese, hang out. And in today’s Japan, being a geek is super cool! If you find Aki-ha-ba-ra a little too long to remember, just say “akiba” and you’ll be with the in Japanese crowd who have nicknamed it so.
Akihabara is a vibrant and exciting shopping district with lots of people milling about all day long and into the evening. Dress up as your favorite anime character and join in the fun! Or shop till you drop finding the latest in Japanese anime software, CDs and DVD’s at domestic prices in the numerous Duty Free shops. Previously known as “electric town,” when Akihabara was more famous for its electronics outlets than anime, don’t miss the chance to pick up a new camera or other electronics (dictionaries, iPhones, etc) while you’re in Akihabara.
Akihabara can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to Japanese cities with floors and floors of shops stacked on top of each other inside high rise buildings. As a result, there are a couple of places to get a tour of the area in English. These people will help guide you through the shops and buildings so you can get a handle on where everything is. A good place to start is the Tokyo Anime Center, which offers maps of the area, guide services and other information in English.
Tokyo Anime Center http://www.animecenter.jp/eng/
More info on Akihabara at Akibananahttp://www.akibanana.com/
Welcome to Japan page for Akihabara and free English tours at http://akihabara-tour.com/en/
Amy Chavez is a columnist for The Japan Times. Visit her website at http://www.moooobar.com