Yodobashi Akihabara building Tokyo Japan

Japan: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

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 otaku district!

Kinuya Honkan hotel lobby Ueno Tokyo
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.
Kinuya Honkan hostel Ueno Tokyo
This is the entrance to Kinuya Honkan
Ueno street Tokyo morning Japan
This street and the surrounding areas are choc full of bars and small eateries
Ueno lane Tokyo Japan
Saw a lot of people riding bicycles, which was nice
Cyberspark pachinko Ueno Tokyo
A few pachinko arcades on this street
Pachinko queue morning Ueno Tokyo
There was a queue forming outside this pachinko arcade. Some new game based on the Ultraman franchise was launching today.
Ueno shops Pachinko lane Tokyo
This is the entrance to the street Kinuya Honkan is located on
Pedestrian crossing Ueno Tokyo winter
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.
7-11 food Tokyo Japan
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!
Pedestrian overbridge Ueno station Tokyo
I climbed up a pedestrian over bridge to get a look around
Ueno station train Tokyo Japan
Trains, it’s how most people get around in Japan
Smoking bays Ueno overbridge Tokyo
Those were designated smoking bays
Steps pedestrian bridge Ueno Tokyo
I went back down and entered Ueno station (the black cars are taxi limousines)

Ginza line signboard Ueno station
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
Luggage storage room Ueno station Tokyo
These are luggage storage rooms which are coin operated (and I guess accept IC cards?)
To Ginza line Ueno train station
Akihabara was just one stop away from Ueno on the Hibiya line. The fare is 165 yen (β‚Ή90/$1.3/€1.2) [Fare calculator]
Yodobashi Akiba Japan entrance Tokyo
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 πŸ™‚
Au mobile Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
The ground floor is mostly mobile phones, tablets and accessories. All the major telecom operators of Japan have their own space here.
Apple mobile section Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Apple is quite popular in Japan too, but Android phones from Sony and Sharp are more popular than Korean brands like Samsung and LG
SIM card section Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
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.

B-mobile SIM card Japan
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. Β₯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.

Graphics cards Yodobashi Tokyo
So many graphics cards and motherboards were displayed in cases like this
Cables Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Want cables of every kind? You get them here
Pocket electronic dictionary Yodobashi Tokyo
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.
Wacom section Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Plenty of Wacom tablets on this floor
Watch section Yodobashi Akiba
The 3rd floor was watches…
Weighing scales Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
…weighing scales…
Canon camera lenses Yodobashi Akiba
… and cameras.
Polaroid toy cameras Yodobashi Akiba
From the popular brands, to Polaroids, instant-print cameras…
Leica Zeiss Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
… to the super-expensive camera/lens brands
Hasselblad Mamiya Yodobashi camera Tokyo
From Hasselblad, Mamiya…
Carl Zeiss lenses Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
…to Carl Zeiss lenses (look at that price tag!)
Lightbox Yodobashi Camera Akihabara
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
Pentax color cameras Yodobashi Tokyo
Want Pentax camera bodies in the colour of your choice?
Camera tripods Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Lots of choice for tripods and monopods
Manfrotto Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
All the major brands are available
Photo paper Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
You want photo paper too? Take your pick
Photo printing Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
You can even print your own photos using these kiosks
Telescope Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
And pick up telescopes
Camera bags Yodobashi Akiba
So much choice in every product category
4k TVs Yodobashi Akiba
The 4th floor was all home entertainment
Sharp TV Yodobashi Akiba Japan
Tom Cruise is still massively popular in Japan
TV stand furniture Yodobashi Akiba
You even get furniture!
Bose Audio Technica headphones Yodobashi Akiba
They also have headphones and audio equipment on the 4th floor
Shure Sennheiser Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
I was looking for a new pair of headphones
Headphones section Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Problem is, when you have so much choice….
Headphones display Yodobashi Akiba Japan
… it gets so hard to choose
Pioneer Superbass headphones
After trying out a few headphones, I really liked this one from Pioneer (SE-M531)… which was unfortunately out of stock
Headphones testing zone Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
There was even this section where you could try out really high end studio equipment
Radio stereos Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Radios, stereos…
Home theater audio Yodobashi Akiba
…and home theaters
Onkyo speakers Yodobashi Akiba
Onkyo, the popular Japanese hi-fi brand
Massage chairs Yodobashi Akiba
The 5th floor was home electronics and white goods
Air conditioners Yodobashi Akiba
Air conditioners with all sorts of fancy features
Refrigerators Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Seems like twin-door refrigerators are the norm in Japan
Pressure cooker Yodobashi Akiba
How are pressure cookers used in Japanese cooking I wonder?
Rinnai gas stoves Yodobashi Akiba
Really liked these multi-function gas stoves πŸ™‚
Rice cookers Yodobashi Akiba
Rice cookers and bread makers were very popular among Chinese tourists
Japanese toilet seats Yodobashi Akiba
Never thought Panasonic made toilet seats, eh? πŸ™‚ 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
Lights Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
There is even a section for lights on the fifth level
Escalator Yodobashi Akiba Japan
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.

Model trains track Yodobashi Akiba
The Japanese love their trains so much that they want to play with them at home
Tracks hobby section Yodobashi Akiba
There is sooooooo much you can do to further your hobby. You just need time, money… and space for all this at home!
Tomytec Kato model figures Yodobashi Akiba
You can populate your model world with tiny people, houses, trees, cars, etc. It’s all available here!
Tamiya warship models Yodobashi Akiba
Ahhh Tamiya, the most popular brand of plastic model kits
Tamiya paints Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
You have a whole variety of paints, acrylic and enamel paints, tools and equipment for hobbyists. It was staggering to see πŸ™‚
Gunpla models Yodobashi Akiba
Lastly, you have a section dedicated to Gunpla and other pop culture figurines
Star Wars figures Yodobashi Akiba
From popular anime to Star Wars… there is so much to make you go, “If only I had the money for all this…”
Gundam model kits Yodobashi Akiba
I checked out several Gundam model kits, noted down some prices and figured out what to buy before leaving Japan
Gunpla Display Yodobashi Akiba
This was a Perfect Grade Gundam model, the most detailed and the most expensive in the Gunpla range
PS4 Xbox One Yodobashi Akiba
I finally moved on from the model kits area to video games
Final Fantasy 15 Xbox One Yodobashi
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.
Arcade fighting stick Yodobashi Akiba
Japan made fighting games popular, so it’s no surprise you have many arcade fighting sticks available for sale
PS Vita Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
The PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS are still hugely popular in Japan and handhelds dominate over the sales of its console brethren
Nintendo section Yodobashi Akiba
The Nintendo section
Japanese train DVDs Yodobashi Tokyo
Over at the home video section, you have several DVDs of train videos
Pianos Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
Besides toys, video games, hobby kits, CDs & DVDs, you also get musical instruments on the 6th floor
Bicycles Yodobashi Akihabara Tokyo
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.

Tower records Yodobashi Akiba
On the 7th floor is Tower Records, a suiting store and above that are restaurants. Here is a complete floor guide.
Perfume CD Tower records Yodobashi Akiba
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.
Kpop Tower Records Yodobashi Akiba
Korean pop is still relevant in Japan
DVDs Tower Records Tokyo 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!

Elevator Yodobashi Akiba Tokyo
But it was time to leave… finally

I paid for the B-Mobile SIM and left the Yodobashi Akiba building.

Yodobashi Akihabara building Tokyo Japan
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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” and last night in Tokyo

Japan 2015: Getting to Narita Airport β€” 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

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