Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tokyo Vacation Part 2: Akiba

 During my time in Tokyo, I decided to visit the famed Akihabara, home to a variety of consumer electronics ranging from video games to camcorders. The name Akihabara means "Field of Autumn Leaves." These days, Akihabara is more widely known by its slang name, Akiba, or as "Electric Town" because of its gadgets.
 The streets are lined with tall, thin buildings, each floor catering to different types of content. While I was there, I visited a store that produces toy statues, as well as a seven-floor building that housed video games on each level. I also visited electronic stores so massive that, if their floor-span was confined to ground level, they would easily rival the acreage of the largest Walmart.

 While in Akiba, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and visit one of the often talked about "maid cafes" which can be found in great number amongst the towering edifices of Electric Town. A maid cafe is a small cafe or restaurant where young women, dressed in maid outfits, serve outrageously expensive cuisine. I believe the attraction of maid cafes is the exoticism, and most people pay the outlandish prices for the experience.

Because of how popular these cafes have become, they no longer cater simply to lonely young men with disposable income. While I was there, throwing away money on a $15 ice cream sundae, I saw foreigners, groups of women, and even romantic couples. They would pay to have their pictures taken with the maids. The entire concept has certainly transformed from a niche concept to an integral part of tourism in Akiba.
All in all, Akiba is a nice place to visit for a few hours, but doesn't offer any interesting sights or events to the casual tourist. If you are looking for a place to find the best and cheapest electronics, this is definitely one of my recommendations. However, it is purely a shopping district, so don't expect to derive any fulfillment from Akiba with a wallet full of cash.

Next time: New Year's Eve!

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