The Truth About Japan's Crazy, Super Sexed Up Electronics District

Japan AkihabaraHow one feels in Japan

Photo: Jay Yarow/Business Insider

I was in Japan last week.And, like anyone interested in technology, I wanted to see Japan’s crazy electronics district, the Akihabara (also called Akiba).

According to old timers, it’s not what it used to be. It’s pivoting towards Anime, and away from gadgets.

That makes sense, since there was a time when Japan’s electronics were weird, exciting, and dominant. But now that Apple’s in control, you don’t need 8 weird gadgets. One will do.

Regardless, the place still has an overwhelming and exhausting buzz to it. I wandered for a few hours and probably saw 0.01% of what it has to offer.

There’s the main drag, which I dipped in and out of. But there are also side streets, and even side streets to those side streets. The stores aren’t simple stores either. They’re 9-floor malls. And if the store doesn’t have multiple floors, then it’s chopped up into labyrinth-like layers.

It felt like Radio Shack on steroids, or walking through a physical manifestation of the tech gadget blogosphere.

There are weird gadgets you think no one will ever buy, video games, anime, and other stuff. There are lots of oversexed depictions of women.

It’s a quite a trip.

Disclosure: We were flown out to Tokyo by Rakuten, an e-commerce company trying to expand internationally. It put us up in very nice hotels, put us on bullet trains, and fed us well. That’s largely irrelevant for this story, but we thought you should know.

Into the Akihabara we go ...

Our first store was loaded with these figurines and anime characters

But, turn a corner and you get a video of a young woman in a leotard bent over

Turn the next corner and you get this mousepad, which is NSFW

Outside of the stores in the Akiba area are young women trying to get men to go to restaurants where the servers are dressed in short skirts

That's her restaurant across the street: Maidreamin

The store next door was even more scandalous

Trading cards!

In this same store you could buy parts to make your own dolls

Some fake hair to add to your doll

Akiba is not just for the perverts, of course. It's also for people who want stuff. Like humidifiers ...

... and nose hair trimmers ...

... and blow dryers ...

... and electric shavers ...

Starting to get the picture? These places have everything ...

Seriously ...

They have everything!

As for electronics, I'm a little confused by the selection. Are people buying these single serving portable DVD players?

What about these? Electric telegraphs?

The truth about these stores is that there's just a lot of crap in them


If you were ever wondering who buys non-iPod mp3 players, it looks like it might be the Japanese

More weird MP3 players

Despite the competition, the iPod classic is still a big seller here, apparently.

You don't have to settle for just white ear buds, you can get them in just about every flavour.

Ear buds not your thing? Plenty of over-the-ear options in Akiba ...

The electronics district may have been super cool years ago, but now it's filled with objects that will be obsolete. Like dozens of point and shoot cameras

Another thing that will be obsolete soon, DVD players

Even though a lot of this stuff is pointless, it's awesome that there's a store with so much in one place. Like this giant megaphone. (I put an iPhone next to it for scale.)

And massaging thingies for people who like to take baths

Another product for the ladies. I think this has something to do with pores.

Hey look, it's an iPhone 4S.

And this is some of the iPhone's competition

More non-iPhones. We could (and probably will) have an entire gallery of phones trying to fight the iPhone in Japan

It's a Galaxy Note! Already available in Japan

Akihabara also has sections that are selling switches and wires and what not

It's pretty great that you can get just about any part you need

Across the street from the ice cream place is this gaming centre. Use a claw to grab toys

Take an escalator upstairs and there's more ...

A few floors of arcade games

But, since window shopping in an arcade is boring, I hopped back into one of the stores

It's overwhelming to do all this shopping ...

... some people have the right idea. Take a nap!

After waking up from a nap, you can see the eReaders

Or the laptops. (This one has a weird trackpad)

The Ultrabook is also very popular

As is the MacBook Air

Need a keyboard?

How about a mouse?

What about a water filter?

Enough! I'm done here.

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