• Stockholm Stockholm
    5 year resident, to guide around the local wonders
  • French Polynesia French Polynesia
    6 islands in the South Seas
  • some image Tokyo Tour
    1-day walk around the best spots
  • Japanese Wedding Japanese Wedding
    The dark side of the rising sun
  • Skyline Hong Kong
    Skylines, bar streets, markets & islands
  • some image Fashion shopping in Tokyo
    The best souvenir of Japan is not omiyage
  • Sydney Opera Australia
    Sydney's NYE, Gold Coast & Great Barrier Reef
  • Gecko Hawaii
    Aloha nature wonders
  • Yakushima Yakushima
    Hiking the Princess Mononoke Forest
  • Ishigaki Lighthouse Ishigaki
    Okinawa's shades of blue
  • Yuki Matsuri Hokkaido
    Powder Snow Festival
  • Daikanyama Daikanyama
    Tokyo's SoHo
  • Cosplayer Comiket
    The Biggest Cosplay Event
  • Cherry Tree Blossom Hanami (花見)
    Sakura by the skyscrapers
  • Hiroshima bomb time Hiroshima
    The Bomb & Miyajima
  • top of mount fuji guide to climb Japan
    Top of Mt.Fuji
  • Kyoto & Nara Nara & Kyoto
    Ciervos nadando en lagos de roca
  • Formentera House Formentera
    Mediterranean Sun

12.8.15

Tokyo : Akihabara「秋葉原」

Akihabara snapshots

Akihabara is not my favourite part of Tokyo, but it is a meaningful one as it was the first place we visited during our first day in Japan ever. Coming back to the city, I decided to take some more pictures. But it was not until arriving home... That I got stuck on this thought.

Akihabara, we all know it as a place for nerds (otakus), for anime, for Japan pop culture, for maids and maybe even teenage prostitution.  But when did this all started? And how did it end up like this?

Tokyo became the center of Japan during the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). Tokyo indeed means Eastern Capital「東京」to indicate that it was a place located on the right side of Kyoto - where the Imperial Palace had been - until Meiji-sama decided to move East and reallocate the Capital of Japan. At the time, Akihabara was a a huge flat land - 30000 square meters - that had been cleared to prevent fires from reaching Edo Castle.

It wouldn't be until 1925, when Akihabara train station - cargo only so far - started to accept passengers. Extremely convenient transportation turned Akihabara into a fruit and veg market. it countinued this way until Japan lost the war in 1945, when many engineers (radio and electronic focused) started to come back home to Japan. Not many jobs around, they could either focus on building rice cookers or try to proactively contribute to the reconstruction of the country. So they picked the second option, and called engineers to gather in the area. Given that TV was not there yet, Radio was the main form of entertainment. So they focused on bringing more radios to the peoples.

This brought electronic stores to start selling household appliances in the 60s and as PC and music became more mainstream, the 70s turned the area into a hub for nerds (music or computer). In 1973, the main street was pedestrianised during the weekends so that people could shop in a more relaxed way. With gaming appearance in the 80s, the area was covered of games and music stores. However, as competition between electronic vendors became more fierce, many stores closed down to transform into selling pieces for DIY PC aficionados.

Videogames lost hype in the 90s, when manga became major. Books, figures, merchandise, cosplay, anime. It was crazy until 2008, when a crazy guy went out and stabbed a bunch of people. Cosplay disappeared from the streets, moving into controlled events like COMIKET - but the otaku atmosphere remained, looking like what you can see today.

On one side, the expected. Dolls. Neon. Electronics.

Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshotsAkihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots

The backstreets are a mixture of small electronic stores and darker places.

Akihabara snapshots

Maid Cafés. The first one appeared in 2001, but in 15 years they have become mainstream in Tokyo and even spread to other countries. They look inocent, kistch. But there's something sketchy on having grown up salaryman coming in there. Watch the documentary. Judge yourself.

Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots

I couldn't help myself and went to Gachapon Kaikan to get some cute figures I keep as amulet in my security card at work. I know it sounds childish, but they've been there since that very first visit to Japan. That brought us back there for a loooong time, that got us married and who knows what. I may be back in Spain, but somehow I feel that they keep bringing me back to Asia - guess you get why I like them.

Besides. Gachapon IS FUN. Feels like a return to childhood. Drop the coins. Turn the thing.
Get a cute little figure! Smile every time you look at it, regardless of stressful environment (^ * ^)

Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots
Akihabara snapshots

Ironically, I took exactly the same picture of the Akihabara corner as Enrique had taken like 3 years ago...
Akihabara snapshots

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