Yesterday morning we were out of our apartment and on the road to Chiyoda by 10am. Our plan was to explore Chidorigafuchi, the Imperial Palace Gardens and the Edo Castle. However that plan soon turned sour when we got to Sakuradamon metro station and I saw people being refused entry into the complex. It turns out that the whole area is closed on Mondays and Friday’s for maintenance which I had no idea about. In the morning sun we walked tbrough Marunouchi, Tokyos financial district and entered Takebashi station to catch a metro ride to Akihabara, with the intent on coming back to Chiyoda on Sunday, when it’s open.
So, many of you reading this might be asking yourselves, what or where is Akihabara? Akihabara or ‘Akiba’ is the electric town renowned internationally. The whole district consists of major electronic superstores accompanied with niche shops selling anything and everything electrical. Alongside these buildings are a magnitude of Anime, gaming and idol establishments. In between these are arcades, maid cafes and adult shops. The whole area is plagued with Otaku which are ‘fans’ of this type of thing. Akihabra alongside Harajuku in Shibuya is the biggest anime mega centre in the entire world. To grasp what this may look like here are a couple of pictures;
When in Akihabara there is so much light, noise and atmosphere that it can be hard to function at all! Which is why I have compiled a Top 10 list of things you should do in Akihabara. Note: I did not do all of these due to time/money constraints.
Otherwise known as ‘survival games’, Saba-Gei is a Akiba fans dream. You can battle with air guns in teams at the Asobiba Akihabara Field for a moderate price.
2. Electrical Town
Whether you’re a aficionado or not you can buy pretty much every bit of electrical or computing equipment in Electrical Town. Even if you’re not into shopping in this particular area it is still worth seeing.
3. Maid Cafe
If you’re into young looking maids or idols you should check out a maid cafe. If you walk around Akihabara you will see maids handing out flyers everywhere so they’re easy to find.
4. Gundam Cafe
To me the interior of this cafe was mediocre to say the least but if you’re a fan of the popular Japanese animation series Mobile Suit Gundam this place is for you.
5. Akiba Cultures Theatre
This is the largest capacity theatre in Akihabara. There are frequent idol and vocaloid events here. I was gutted I didn’t get a chance to go to this as they film a lot of the events for DVD.
6. Akibaoo 0
10 floors of media products, definitely worth a look!
If I remember correctly 9 floors of media products only this one had some really good floors of K-books, manga and much more. They had a massive XXX section in here so as a souvenir I bought a anime porn book, because why not?
8. Card World Tower
As a kid I was compulsively obsessed with Pokemon and for some reason chucked all of my cards away. However in Card World Tower you could buy them all back! 7 floors of I presume every possible gaming card in the world for sale. I even bought some Japanese Pokemon cards as a souvenir.
AKB48 is a Japanese idol girl group which houses a theatre and cafe just next to Akihabara station. They’re known as AKB48 after the area of their theatre ‘Akihabara’ and with the fact there are 48 members.
The Chabara complex indulges in Japanese food products from all over the country, a perfect place to buy souvenirs or to have a mooch around.
After some delicious ramen for a late lunch…
…we left Akihabara to try and squeeze in another district of Tokyo to see. After a 30 minute metro ride on the Shinjuku and Marunouchi Lines we had arrived at Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro is a crowded, sub centre of shopping galas, department stories and commercial facilities. If you are looking to ‘shop til’ you drop’ this is the place to visit to grab some bargains. Like Akihabara, I will do a top 5 ‘things to see and do’ in Ilebukuro. Again, because time was of the essence and because Japan has already dented my bank balance enough, I only did a couple of these.
1 Animate Sunshine
This building which is famous for looking like a milk carton (it kind of does) sells hoards of animation and game related goods and is a dream for gamers alike.
2. Sunshine City
A magnificent and ultra modern shopping gala with loads of trendy shops and diverse restaurants.
3. Namjatowm & J World Tokyo
2 amusement parks in Sunshine city. Perfect for kids and cost only ¥2000 (£15) to enter.
4. Otome Road
Female Otaku gather on this landmark road in Ikebukuro. It is the same road as Animate is on and has loads of unique cafes and shops.
5. Higashi-Ikebukuro Park
Formally the Sugamo Prison this is a nice place to get away from the business of the shopping district.
Post a 1 hour metro ride back to Asakusa we spent the evening drinking Asahi beers from the rooftop of our Airbnb.
By 8:30pm we were well and truly in good spirits and decided to go back to Akihabara to see it at night time! We enjoyed a nice meal and some beer and Sake at an underground bar and headed home before the last metro.
If I ever came to Tokyo again I would 100% go back to Akihabara, but there are a few things I would do differently…for anyone who will be visiting this district soon check these tips out;
- Go out of Exit 2/3 when leaving the metro, it looks appealing to go out of exits 1, 4 or 5 (I did all) but you end up far away from everything
- There is no need to go at night, I preferred in the day and it even takes better pictures.
- There are a very small amount of bars and clubs compared to Shibuya/Shinjuku so be prepared to properly look for one.
- Book theatre shows in advance
- If you want to buy souvenirs, budget a lot of money for your time I’m Akihabara – it is not cheap!
- You don’t need to spend all day here, you can do a circuit of the district in 3 hours
That’s it! Thanks for reading once again, I am being questioned over how long I will be as Georgia wants some breakfast! Today we’re going to Shinjuku so read all about that tomorrow, if you’re interested.