Akihabara was once the electronics capital of Japan, and is still known as the "Electric City." Although other centers, like Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, now rival Akihabara for that title, it's maintained its appeal to the otaku (geek) crowd with its gigantic electronics outlets, manga and toy stores, and maid cafes. Akihabara is a necessary stop for anybody hoping to catch a glimpse of high nerd culture.
If it's the latest electronics or the rarest vintage components you seek, then Akihabara is still the definitive Tokyo destination for all things electric. The sheer variety of products available can be astounding; from hot-off-the-assembly line digital cameras to mint condition vintage Walkmans, it's all here. If you're here as a tourist, make sure to bring your passport along to the duty free shops, easily recognizable on the main drag. For unmatched inventory, check out the 7-story Sato Musen.
Some of the more bizarre aspects of Akihabara culture are hidden behind the scenes, often behind seemingly benign storefronts. Step into the shop selling used video games and you may quickly find yourself gazing at erotic cosplay costumes; head down the narrow alley under the JR train line tracks and you'll be in an uber-otaku paradise: piles upon piles of switches, transistors, tubes, LEDs, and anything else the electronics enthusiast needs for his tinkering.
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