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Akihabara (2006)

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Akihabara - by Lyle H Saxon, ITG, Tokyo

Akihabara is well-known throughout the world as the center of retail electronics in Tokyo.  I've occasionally sent computer parts seekers a map here, a website there, and "Look for the side street after the bank" type of instructions, and now I'm finally putting something on-line.  This page is by no means comprehensive and is meant simply to point out a few shops that I've found to be useful and also to give those who haven't been to Akihabara some slight idea of what it looks like.
     Warning! - In the last few years, there have been a lot of changes in Akihabara - as this page currently stands, I'm afraid it's more of historical interest for how Akihabara used to be.  I'll try to put together a modern version.  -  Lyle H Saxon

Left below - Plat'Home (blue mark on white sign on the building on the right side of the picture) used to be there - like in the photo, but has since closed and is only an on-line business now (so far as I know anyway - if you have information to the contrary, please let me know!)
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #1
Middle & right photos above and left & middle photos below - Otto - in my opinion, was the best place to get used computers, particularly used desktop machines.  Unfortunately they closed the shops shown in these photos - a sad day for used computer buyers in Tokyo!
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #2
Right above - looking down "Used Alley" (my term) from in front of [former location of] Otto.  Middle below - T-Zone - a good place to get some new parts, like hard drives, DVD burners, memory, etc.  Right side below - another [former] Otto shop - down at the end of the street and looking the other way as the view on the right above.  Left below - an actual old house (at the end of the street) still on the ground, in 2005 Tokyo!  No small feat that - in this land of perpetual renewal!
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #3
In the middle photo below is a clearer view of the entrance to the same Otto shop as in the photos near the top of this page.  Go in the door, up the stairs, and have a look.  Not everyone there speaks English, so it's best to use Japanese.
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #4
A cheap place to buy flash memory is at the lower right shop - down another street, on the back side of the Laox store, which is across the street from the former Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank.  Aside from the name change, the bank is gone anyway, but when these photos were taken, they still had ATM machines under the name Tokyo Mitsubishi.
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #5
Sofmap is all over the place, as you might surmise from the numbers after the name.  Starting from the left photo above, walk down the street (middle photo above) and the cheap flash memory place is on the right (right photo above and 3rd from left photo below).
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #6
Back to where we started - the 1st & 4th photos above are of Plat'Home - taken on the same day about ninety minutes apart.  The second photo above is a place that sells nothing but monitors - it's just down the street from Otto, on the left side of Used Alley before you get to T-Zone, which is on the right.
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #7
Left above - the counter to the left of the register by the door, where they have the flash memory (see photos and text further above).  The other five photos (two above and three below) are closer to the station than Used Alley.  In the right picture below, that is the station there on the left.
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #8
The way a lot of shops have things sitting out on the street in front (left photo below), makes the area an interesting one to walk through.  Also sort of nostalgic in a way - newer stores are squeaky clean, modern, and blasted with 200 times more light than they need, but in the old shops is something of the past that is far more interesting than the big new stores (in the way of atmosphere)....
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #9
The three main JR lines that pass through Akihabara are the Yamanote Line, the Keihin-Tohoku Line and the Sobu Line.  There is also the new Tsukuba Line (underground at Akihabara and surface further out), and the Hibiya Line (subway).  In the area, there are several other stations: the Ginza Line (subway - Suehiro-cho Station), the Toei Shinjuku Line (subway - Iwamoto-cho Station), the Marunouchi Line (subway - Awaji-cho or Ochanomizu stations), the Chiyoda Line (subway - Shin-Ochanomizu Station), and the Chuo Line (Ochanomizu Station), with some requiring more or less walking, depending on what part of Akihabara you want to visit.
Akiba - by LHS, ITG, Tokyo #10
Left above - just ten seconds from the JR ticket gates.  Middle - Keihin-Tohoku Line.  Right - Sobu Line, with new Yodobashi store in the background.


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The following text from a couple of years ago I was going to integrate into this, then I was going to just delete it, and finally I've decided to put it here at the bottom, as there's some 2003 ambiance between the lines....

From 2003:
I worked for a little over a year just a seven minute walk away from this scene [photo at top of page].  I used to walk through here once or twice a week (and another less photographic street even more often [Used Alley]) and buy computers, computer parts, and electronic odds and ends - including an 85Wx2 stereo amplifier for Y6,000 (around $50.00).  It's addictive when you like machines... you walk by all the shops and something catches your attention.  I once bought this huge and very heavy hard drive unit from about 1997 for Y100 (just under $1).  It was well worth that for the fun of tearing it apart (I wrote about that one in an LL) and now I have a couple of interesting paperweights from parts I pulled out of it [a couple of which are in "Parts & Condensation", that multi-platter hard drive in the picture comes to a grand total of 40MB!].
      Now - fortunately I think - I don't work so near to Akihabara, so I haven't been buying computer parts for... months (gasp!).  I did go by the same week I took this photo though to pick up a "smart media" flash memory card, and that's when I took this photo.  I have a 512MB compact flash card in one camera and I see that there are 1GB compact flash cards now!  Who needs a 1GB micro-drive HDD when you can get the same thing as flash memory!  See?  There I go... just having a look at computer parts makes me want to acquire them and put them to work for me....   (2003 - LHS)

Copyright 2003 & 2005 - Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo