This is my last post from Tokyo featuring Electric Town (called Akihabara), the comic and electronic district of Tokyo. I enjoyed my time in Tokyo quite a bit but at the same time a lot of things still puzzle me and remain unanswered.
On my last day I made a quick run to Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronic and comic district, which similar to Harajuku is filled with interestingly dressed people, although of a completely different kind… more the comic book store kind, rather than the fashion kind – whatever this means.
Wikipedia’s take on Akihabara:
Akihabara (Japanese: 秋葉原?) “Field of Autumn Leaves”, also known as Akihabara Electric Town (Japanese: 秋葉原電気街 Hepburn: Akihabara Denki Gai?), is a district of Tokyo, Japan. It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo Station. Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ?) in Japan. While there is an official locality named Akibahara, which is also 秋葉原 in kanji, nearby (as part of Taitō-ku), the area known to most people asAkihabara (including the railway station of the same name) also include Soto-Kanda, a part of Chiyoda-ku.
Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, games and otaku goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street, Chūōdōri, with many kinds of used items found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3-chōme. New parts for PC-building are readily available from a variety of stores. Tools, electrical parts, wires, microsized cameras and similar items are found in the cramped passageways of Soto Kanda 1-chōme (near the station). Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Laox or other speciality shops near the station, though there is more variety and lower prices at locales a little further away. Akihabara gained some fame through being home to one of the first stores devoted to personal robots and robotics.
Some final words about Japan and Tokyo in particular. Now, looking back, I can say that while Tokyo is impressive as a metropolis at the same time I am a bit disappointed and confused about how closed it is. Maybe it is just me that experienced it but I felt that Tokyo (much more so than Kyoto) was closed to foreigners and not very welcoming. This is interesting in view of Tokyo applying for the Olympics in 2020 and presenting itself as an international metropolis. Might I dare to say that Tokyo is not fit for the average international visitors (business and tourists alike) in comparison to the usual suspects including London, New York, Paris, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Santiago de Chile. Also, I have never been actively sent away from a restaurant because I was not local. Here in Tokyo and Kyoto it happened to me several times, when accompanied by locals even with the clear statement: no foreigners. I checked some travel guides, which try to maneuver around this issue by stating the shops are small and accept only regulars… Then again, a lot of things from Europe in particular are copied here. Take all the ‘boulangeries’ [sic] and Italian restaurants; many people are wearing European designer clothes. I left Tokyo puzzled and confused.
Enjoy the final shots from Tokyo.