Date: March 21, 2015
I woke up at around 8AM. I wanted to sleep some more since it was cold and all, but I was excited to go to Akihabara, the electronics and
I had to come down to the lobby to get my clothes as I had to leave my big suitcase in the room opposite the reception. No big suitcases allowed in the dorms due to lack of space. It was a little inconvenient, but… oh well.
This is the entrance to Kinuya Honkan
This street and the surrounding areas are choc full of bars and small eateries
Saw a lot of people riding bicycles, which was nice
A few pachinko arcades on this street
There was a queue forming outside this pachinko arcade. Some new game based on the Ultraman franchise was launching today.
This is the entrance to the street Kinuya Honkan is located on
Right across the road is Ueno station, one of the largest hubs in the Tokyo train network and a major interchange station. I always choose my hotels and hostels near a metro station.
I went to a 7-Eleven to pick up some breakfast and coffee. I was amazed to see the variety of ready-to-eat meal boxes on shelves!
I climbed up a pedestrian over bridge to get a look around
Trains, it’s how most people get around in Japan
Those were designated smoking bays
I went back down and entered Ueno station (the black cars are taxi limousines)
I had installed the Tokyo Metro app which is super easy to use in trying to figure which train line to get on. To get to Akihabara from Ueno, first get on the Hibiya (grey) line
These are luggage storage rooms which are coin operated (and I guess accept IC cards?)
Akihabara was just one stop away from Ueno on the Hibiya line. The fare is 165 yen (₹90/$1.3/€1.2) [ Fare calculator]
The plan was to first go to Yodobashi Akiba, the largest electronics store in Japan. How convenient that one of Akihabara’s exits leads straight out to the store 🙂
The ground floor is mostly mobile phones, tablets and accessories. All the major telecom operators of Japan have their own space here.
Apple is quite popular in Japan too, but Android phones from Sony and Sharp are more popular than Korean brands like Samsung and LG
But first, I had to buy a SIM card for my phone
Unlike India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and a lot of other GSM countries, in Japan, a tourist cannot easily apply for a local SIM. Most mobile plans are contract-based and certain phone models are themselves Japan-specific. For tourists, the best thing in that case would be to buy the data only SIMs from providers such as B-Mobile.
I bought the 1GB plan as I only needed it for 9 days. Mostly to send messages on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and to use Google Maps. ¥3980 is around Rs. 2100/$32/€29
I decided to move on up. I went to the second floor, which was all things related to computing. PC parts, accessories, cables and even stationary.
So many graphics cards and motherboards were displayed in cases like this
Want cables of every kind? You get them here
These devices are Japanese language Electronic Dictionaries which also give you Japanese-English translations. Why in the world of smartphones and apps would you need devices like these? I don’t know, but Japan is like that. Apparently sending faxes is also still a big thing in Japan’s offices.
Plenty of Wacom tablets on this floor
The 3rd floor was watches…
… and cameras.
From the popular brands, to Polaroids, instant-print cameras…
… to the super-expensive camera/lens brands
From Hasselblad, Mamiya…
…to Carl Zeiss lenses (look at that price tag!)
Yodobashi Camera is what the company is called so it’s no surprise they live up to their reputation of stocking anything and everything you might need for photography
Want Pentax camera bodies in the colour of your choice?
Lots of choice for tripods and monopods
All the major brands are available
You want photo paper too? Take your pick
You can even print your own photos using these kiosks
And pick up telescopes
So much choice in every product category
The 4th floor was all home entertainment
Tom Cruise is still massively popular in Japan
You even get furniture!
They also have headphones and audio equipment on the 4th floor
I was looking for a new pair of headphones
Problem is, when you have so much choice….
… it gets so hard to choose
After trying out a few headphones, I really liked this one from Pioneer (SE-M531)… which was unfortunately out of stock
There was even this section where you could try out really high end studio equipment
…and home theaters
Onkyo, the popular Japanese hi-fi brand
The 5th floor was home electronics and white goods
Air conditioners with all sorts of fancy features
Seems like twin-door refrigerators are the norm in Japan
How are pressure cookers used in Japanese cooking I wonder?
Really liked these multi-function gas stoves 🙂
Rice cookers and bread makers were very popular among Chinese tourists
Never thought Panasonic made toilet seats, eh? 🙂 So it turns out the buttons and the hi-tech gadgetry of Japanese toilets are in the seats. You just buy the seat covers and fit them on compatible toilets
There is even a section for lights on the fifth level
And finally, to the 6th floor!
This floor is all video games, toys,
Gunpla, model kits, hobbies, crafts… and more! I was stunned by the sheer number and variety of model kits available! From classic cars, airplanes – old and new – to battleships, trains and of course, robots.
The Japanese love their trains so much that they want to play with them at home
There is sooooooo much you can do to further your hobby. You just need time, money… and space for all this at home!
You can populate your model world with tiny people, houses, trees, cars, etc. It’s all available here!
Ahhh Tamiya, the most popular brand of plastic model kits
You have a whole variety of paints, acrylic and enamel paints, tools and equipment for hobbyists. It was staggering to see 🙂
Lastly, you have a section dedicated to Gunpla and other pop culture figurines
From popular anime to Star Wars… there is so much to make you go, “If only I had the money for all this…”
I checked out several Gundam model kits, noted down some prices and figured out what to buy before leaving Japan
This was a Perfect Grade Gundam model, the most detailed and the most expensive in the Gunpla range
I finally moved on from the model kits area to video games
The Xbox One kiosk was showing the Final Fantasy 15 demo. Wonder if this game would help the console’s sales in Japan. Most people are going to play it on PS4 anyway.
Japan made fighting games popular, so it’s no surprise you have many arcade fighting sticks available for sale
The PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS are still hugely popular in Japan and handhelds dominate over the sales of its console brethren
The Nintendo section
Over at the home video section, you have several DVDs of train videos
Besides toys, video games, hobby kits, CDs & DVDs, you also get musical instruments on the 6th floor
Oh, and bicycles too
Trust me, these are just a few of the many, many, many, many items in store at every level. It’s crazy! I have never seen an electronics store quite like this.
On the 7th floor is Tower Records, a suiting store and above that are restaurants. Here is a complete floor guide.
I went inside Tower Records. My favourite J-pop group is the one on the left (Perfume). The one on the right is a popular idol group, whom I just cannot take seriously.
Korean pop is still relevant in Japan
Japan is the second biggest music market in terms of revenue and one of the few places where CD sales are still going strong
I had lost track of time while inside Yodobashi Akiba. It’s hard not to! As a kid growing up in Bahrain, I used to stare at gadgets in electronics stores across Manama whenever my parents were busy shopping elsewhere. I’ve always been fascinated with technology, consumer electronics, and pop culture — most of it Japanese. And to think I was in the
mecca of it all now. It felt great!
But it was time to leave… finally
I paid for the B-Mobile SIM and left the Yodobashi Akiba building.
Which by the way, looks like this from the outside
It was past 3PM. I needed to have lunch and then explore the rest of Akihabara. It was cold, but I was so looking forward to see what else Akihabara had to offer!
Next post in this series:
Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza
Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama
Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama
Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen
Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show
Japan 2015: Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, leaving Himeji for Tokyo — and my last bullet train ride
Japan 2015: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom
Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more
Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog
Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku — views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck
Japan 2015: Shopping in Shinjuku, and exploring Kabukicho
Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple
Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River
Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall
Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms at Tokyo Imperial Palace east garden
Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen
Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park
Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street
Japan 2015 – Visiting Akihabara a second time, because why not?
Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park
Japan 2015: Rikugien garden’s weeping cherry blossom tree
Japan 2015: Getting to Hakone; Lake Ashi sightseeing cruise
Japan 2015: Hakone ropeway; onsen at Hotel Green Plaza
Japan 2015: Ōwakudani sulphur springs, views of Mt. Fuji — and last night in Tokyo
Japan 2015: Getting to Narita Airport — and flying an Airbus A380 for the first time
Previous post in this series:
Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time