Akihabara, or ‘Akiba’ to the locals, is a mecca for otaku everywhere. The main streetChuuou-doori is lined with multi-storey retailers of electronics, games, music, figures, posters, doujinshi, anime, manga and everything else modern visual culture-related. On Sunday, the entire street is blocked off and pedestrians are allowed to walk freely on the road.

This is Gamers of Di Gi Charat fame. They’ve got pretty much everything here except doujinshi.

This is Sofmap’s main shop. They own the entire block here, comprising half a dozen or so stores catering to different interests and media.

This is Akihabara’s famous Radio Hall, right across from the station. The lower floors have electronics, while the higher stores have figures, trading cards and whatnot.

On the left here is Tora no Ana, which has four floors devoted to doujinshi and a few more to general manga and ero-manga. On the right is Game Taito station, which is a multi-storey arcade. There are UFO catchers at the bottom and cabinet games higher up.

White Canvas may be a bit tough to find, but it’s worth it – it’s got the biggest collection of Touhou merchandise anywhere.

HEY is an arcade with UFO catchers on the lower levels and arcade cabinets on the higher levels. Melonbooks is in the basement.

This is Cosmate, a cosplay shop located deep within the backstreet bowels of Akihabara. The actual store is two stories high, but it’s as narrow as hell in there. They have your typical uniforms and costumes on the first floor, and accessories like wigs and fake breasts on the second.

This is Manseibashi, the bridge that marks the edge of the otaku district. To the right is Akihabara proper.

Akihabara station has a higher frequency of otaku-related billboards than any other. The third one here is illustrated by Type Moon.

Former foreign minister ‘Rozen’ Asou Tarou has been popular with otaku ever since revealing that he was a manga fan himself.

Konata leaps through time to make the release date for the Lucky Star PS2 game.

A life-sized Haruhi figure helps to promote the Suzumiya Haruhi PS2 game.

Hachikuma’s latest Touhou game is on streetcorner display.

Some tasteful lamps. Also, an air guitar.

Akihabara has its own cuisine.

This is a new Gundam game utilising an immersive cockpit. It reminds me somewhat of the old VR Mechwarrior games.

There’s a Half-Life 2 arcade game here wired up to a nation-wide network of arcade machines. There’s a single-player mode with short segments of Half-Life 2 and a multiplayer deathmatch mode.

Deathsmiles is a crazy danmaku game with loli-goths. You’d have to work hard to fail with a formula like that.

The Idolm@ster remains as popular as ever. I’d love a copy of one of those big posters on the right.

There was a location test of the new Fate/Stay Night fighing game on the day that we went. I don’t know if it’ll be replacing Melty Blood anytime soon, but it does look pretty cool.

The Taito arcade provides free towels and bags for your UFO catcher winnings.

I tore open a blister on my thumb here playing Hare Hare Yuukai and Motteke! Serafuku.

An advertisement for the position of president. ‘Would you like to become a real master?’

Do they?

I won a Haruhi and a Mikuru here after wasting a disgraceful amount of money.

I really liked the look of these mini Lucky Star figures, but this machine was insanely difficult, so I just ended up buying a box of them at Gamers.

Communication diaries like these are a common sight in many shops in Akihabara and really lend these places a sense of community. Customers are encouraged to leave a sketch or write a brief paragraph whenever they like. A pencilboard serves as a bookmark.

Original sketches and decorations adorn everything from signs to garbage bins. These particular bins are for opened capsules.

White Canvas has a box where the staff put used promo posters for customers to take home. Unsurprisingly, it was empty when we went.

This is the closest shrine to Akihabara. It seems relatively proper for a building in this area. No girls cosplaying as miko or anything.

We saw quite a few vehicles here decorated with bishoujo. Pictured is a Nanoha StrikerS bike and a Lucky Star ‘No tsundere, no life’ 4WD.

The Cure Maid Cafe is just off the main road. Apart from the waitresses wearing maid uniforms and the anime-related decor, it really is very much like any other cafe. I didn’t really mind so much, but my friend complained that he was at least expecting to be addressed as ‘Goshujin-sama’.

Moesham is a maid hair salon. There’s also a proper maid cafe downstairs.



Jinbouchou is Tokyo’s book town, located just a little to the southwest of Akihabara.

This street is composed almost entirely of bookshops. Most have a few tables out the front so that passersby can browse.

This is the Haga Bookshop. ‘Part 1’ has more adult videos than anyone could watch in a lifetime, and ‘part 2’ has a pretty wide range of pornographic magazines.

I have a strong suspicion that this building is the one featured at the beginning of the first episode of Read or Die (OAV).


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