Have you ever heard of the Japanese word - otaku? It is not as famous as sushi, but it is now officially included in the Oxford dictionary. So, what is an otaku? Some Japanese people have an image of otaku being a nerd-looking man with a plaid shirt who loves anime, idols or computer games, but not fun or socialising. According to the dictionary definition, otaku has the nuance of being obsessed with one particular area and being less social. Now that you understand the meaning of otaku, you might wonder where is the epicentre of Japanese otaku culture. The answer is Akihabara in Tokyo. It is the perfect place for not only all types of otaku (from gamers, anime fans to electrical appliances and idol lovers) but also visitors from overseas who wish to witness unique and original Japanese culture. Akihabara caters for all these needs at a super high level.
One of the unique features of Akihabara is that there are many electronic retailers gathered in one area of Tokyo. There are many large electronics retailers, like Yodobashi Camera, and small stores that sell rare vintage products and duty-free shops. Yodobashi Camera is located right next to JR Akihabara station. There are 9 floors at Yodobashi Camera. The first six floors offer computers, cameras, TVs, audio/visual appliances, mobile phones, electric bicycles and more. The seventh floor is reserved for clothes, shoes, CDs and DVDs, while the eighth floor consists of 30 different restaurants and the ninth floor has golf and baseball areas.
If you are looking for "made in Japan" electronics appliances to take home, you can find anything and everything at Akihabara Electric Town. Overseas visitors might think that it is not acceptable to barter in Japan. It is usually true, but you can negotiate the price at the large electronic shops. So, try it, and you might be surprised.
There is no doubt that otaku is the symbol of Akihabara and plays a central role. Akihabara is a place where enthusiastic anime fans gather and cosplay as characters. Though, not all anime fans are into cosplay. Some are into collecting related goods or figures. Animeto (anime + mates) caters for all types of anime fans, from those who simply enjoy reading or watching anime to the serious enthusiastic cosplayer. Animeto is a chain retailer that only sells anime-related products. There are about 100 Animeto shops around Japan and 6 Animeto in Asia. Animeto in Akihabara is one of the largest, and it offers 7 floors full of anime-related goods. On the seventh floor, you can find some original goods that you can only purchase at Animeto Akihabara.
Until recently, Akihabara was not known as a gastronomic town. Perhaps, all otaku people in Akihabara did not have time and energy for quality food. They rather spent their time going to the maid cafés and get served by dressed-up-in-maid-uniform girls. Do not get me wrong. Maid café culture is very interesting, and so is Akihabara. The price is reasonable, and maid girls are welcoming and friendly, and they offer some games to play on the table. Besides maid cafés, there are butler cafes also available in Akihabara. It is not difficult to find a maid café or a butler café in Akihabara. You just have to walk to the higher floors of large buildings near the JR Akihabara station. Nowadays, a maid café is kind of typical Akihabara experience. Many maid cafes have an English menu.
So, for someone interested in up-and-coming stuff to do while traveling, Gundam Café is highly recommended. The long-time favourite Gundam theme café is located right next to JR Akihabara station. The 1/12-scale Gundam statue will welcome you in front of the café. All foods are cutely decorated with the Gundam theme. You must try their cafe late, which has Gundam characters drawn with chocolate topping. If you feel like taking some Gundam stuff home with you, a saviour shop is attached to the café.
Akihabara is one of the unique areas of Tokyo. If you are an anime, game or idol fan, this town is for you. Trust me, you never have enough time to explore Akihabara entirely. But even if you are not really into all that, you will be amazed by the epicentre of Japanese otaku culture. Akihabara experience will be one of your unforgettable moments in Tokyo.
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