Introducing Akihabara & Around
Akihabara is synonymous with otaku (geeks) but you don’t have to obsess about manga or anime (to enjoy this quirky neighbourhood that is at once sensory overload and cultural mindbender. From Akihabara Station, take in the old-school Akihabara Radio Center under the tracks, and figurine-filled Akihabara Radio Kaikan next door for a quick intro to what gets the otaku heart beating.
Along neon-lined Chūō-dōri, west of the station, you’ll see touts hawking cheap goods, and perhaps a French maid enticing customers to a local cafe. Electric Town is across the street, and holds a huge concentration of electronics shops, DVD retailers and figurine sellers. You can expect squads of geeks on the lookout for the latest anime goods, but it also draws shoppers from across the world.
You can find respite in the recently opened 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan arcade, with its serene atmosphere and eclectic, craft-oriented shops tucked beneath the tracks north of the station. From here walk north along the tracks toward Ueno-kōen (Ueno Park) or go west along Kuramaebashi-dōri. You’ll find the usually quiet Kanda Myōjin (Kanda shrine), home to Yushima Seidō, a rare Confucian shrine by the Kanda-gawa. If you want to stretch your legs further, Origami Kaikan has fine displays on the art of folding paper into exquisite shapes.
To the south, the Jimbōchō and Kanda quarters have a no-nonsense vibe and a plethora of shops selling used and antique books, sporting goods and musical instruments.
To the north of Kanda Station are some excellent traditional restaurants housed in vintage and traditional buildings. These are a great choice to cap an afternoon and early evening exploring this area.