Akihabara, also known as the “Electric Town”, is the biggest electronics shop district in the world and one of the most important japanese pop culture springs.
Akihabara gained some fame through being home to one of the first stores devoted to personal robots and robotics.
Located near Tokyo Station, in Akihabara you can find gadget, technology, anime, video games, robots, manga, electronic, computer and otaku goods, including new and used items.
Akihabara is the paradise for a technology lover : from little shops to big department stores, you can find new gadgets and cameras that are only available in Japan, video games and machines that will never be abroad, cheap second hand computer shops, old video game shops, tools, electrical parts, wires and many other items.
Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Yodobashi, the biggest electronics department in the world or other speciality shops near the station, though there is more variety and lower prices at locales a little further away.
Akihabara is not only known because of its shops, it is also a center of pop culture movements like Cosplay (people dressed like their manga or anime heroes), Otaku, Akiba-kei (social group who likes to spend free time in Akihabara, sometimes is translated as geek) and many others.
There are an huge of different shops that you can see in Akihabara, here below you find some explanations.
Yodobashi Akiba : it is a must to see, an immense electronics store. It is open from 9:30 to 22 and beyond to include any item of electronics with the opportunity to try many products, it also has a plan with lots of restaurants where you can also find a kaiten sushi run by Zanmai Sushi. It is located in the east of Akihabara, which is the side opposite the most famous area where all the other stores.
Sex Shop : every sex shop in Akihabara were always pretty much similar to those found in other capitals in the world, until he opened the Pop Life Department M’S. This sex shop is a few steps from the JR station and has several floors, each dedicated to individual categories of items, from DVDs to traditional japanese cosplay costumes, also dildos and sex toys, with a good supply of condoms and lubricants various types and more.
It is open daily from 10 to 23.
Maid Cafe : in the streets of Akihabara is very common to see girls dressed as simple rulers who distribute flyers and coupons for discounts to go to Maid Cafe. In these cafes, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as cafe patrons. The first one in Akihabara was Cure Maid Café, in march 2001.
Department stores: around the station there are some others big department stores like Yodobashi, as LAOX, Ishimaru, Sato Musen. They are filled with the newest electronic goods: TVs, cameras, video games, laptops, washing machines etc. These are the general purpose places, if you are traveling and you show your passport they will discount a 5%. Tax free!
Computer shops: in the 90s the main business in Akihabara were computers, right now it is not so important but there are still many places specialized in computers. Tsukumo and Softmap are the big shops but the most interesting places to check are the little computer shops you will find just after crossing the big avenue. Second hand computers are pretty popular in Akihabara.
Hobby stores : shops specialized in merchandising, figures and all kind of goods about anime series, films and video games. Kotobukiya and Asobit are two of the most crowded hobby stores in Akiba. If you like Gundam, Mazinger or Evangelion you should go to one of these stores.
Manga and anime: there are also whole buildings full of manga and anime DVDs, the dream of all otaku. The most important manga stores are Mandarake and Animate, Japanimation is the main anime shop.
Videogame shops: there are many videogame shops around Akihabara where you can buy not only the newest games in the market but also old games. For example, if you go to a shop called Superpotato you can even buy dead videogame systems like MSX, Superfamicom or Virtual Boy.
Electronics: there are many little shops concentrated below the rail tracks where they sell electronic components, these shops form all together what is known by the Akihabara people as the Radio Center.
Interesting resources related to Akihabara :
Akihabara Official Website (the link is for the guide map of the district)
Most famous Akihabara News site