Akihabara – The Electric Town

I actually went to Akihabara more than once during this trip. Akihabara is also known as Electric Town and is a major shopping area for electronic and otaku goods of all kinds. Most of the Mac stores are also in that part of the town, while the Apple Store is in Ginza.

Business man walking down the street in Akihabara

But I didn’t came here to just look around and check out the arcades: I had shopping to do! My Japanese teacher had one of these clocks that could announce the time – in Japanese! I wanted such a clock. Additionally, I was also looking for an electronic dictionary. Electronic dictionaries are much more common in Japan compared to Germany. Unable to find a speaking clock, I just asked around. One vendor had one and so I just have to press a button and get the time in Japanese!

On Sunday, the big street was blocked for car traffic. Space was definitely not an issue on that day, although most people still preferred walking on the sidewalk. Other parts of Tokyo have this car free Sunday too. In other cities there’d usually be a festival attached to such days.

Car free day

Akihabara’s Arcades

Akihabara buildings

Then there were the arcades. This is a whole different culture especially compared to Germany. In Germany, video game arcades were classified the same as gambling in the 80’s. Anyone under the age of 18 had no access to arcade machines. Kids would read about the amazing graphics of the latest arcade games in their home computer magazines but only had access to terrible ports of these games.

Not so in Japan where an arcade culture developed and famous video game companies operate their own arcades. I visited the Taito and Sega arcade. Each had plenty of games on multiple floors, a mixture of crane games (ufo catcher), gambling, arcade classics and games with dedicated arcade cabinets. There were also a lot of fighting games.

"Continue" screen of an arcade game

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