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Akihabara

Page history last edited by Dudley Merrifield 10 years, 8 months ago

Tokyo’s place to go for electronics and popular culture.

 

Akihabara, also known as Electric Town, is located in the eastern side of Tokyo’s central Chiyoda ward. Akihabara is made famous for its stores, which boast an incredible variety of electronics, which are mostly computer related. It is because of these stores that Akihabara got its nickname “Electric Town”. However electronics are not all Akihabara has to offer, today it is best known for it’s extensive selection of manga, anime, and other otaku goods such as video games, figurines, costumes, wall scrolls, etc. It is one of the most popular areas for the Japanese otaku crowd.

 

History

- In the mid-1800’s a major blaze destroyed a large part of the city where current day Akihabara stands. It was decided that the area should be kept clear as a buffer zone in case of another fire.

- Soon after, a small Shinto shrine was built; it was called “the extinguisher shrine”

- The shrine was misunderstood by most Tokyo residents and a rumor about how a popular fire controlling deity was encased in the shrine. That deity’s name was Akiba. It was this rumor that contributed to the name of the city that would stand in its place one day.

- At the start of the 20th century the railways extended to the area and allowed more people to visit. Thanks to the increase in foot traffic, the area known as Akihabara began to grow as people began dealerships and taking up residence there.

- After World War II black market electronics started getting peddled on the streets of Akihabara. The diverse selection of electronics drew such a crowd that the businesses eventually obtained the resources they needed to become legitimate. It was during the 50’s that Akihabara established itself as the place to go to look for any and all modern electronics.

- In the 60’s Japan experienced a time of economic growth and domestic appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and televisions grew in popularity and the Electric City always had these items in stock. It became a sign of wealth and social status to go shopping in Akihabara.

- By the time of the 70’s, domestic appliances were no longer rare and a sign of social standing. Now that everyone had a washing machine entertainment products began to grow in popularity. Akihabara began dealing in color televisions as well as stereo systems and cassette recorders. This was also a time when the first home computers began to be manufactured. The market for personal computers for homes and offices went big and Akihabara, of course, was the place to go to buy them.

- In the 80’s when computers had become omnipresent, dealers started distributing computer games. In the 90’s the anime craze began (which for the most part appealed to the same demographic as computer games did) and the otaku crowd began to pour into the city.

 -Since the 2000’s, Akihabara has continued to offer a huge variety of electronics that for the most part are computer related. However, it is best known for its gaming and comic book stores that hold an immense selection that appeal to the modern day otaku community.

 

Layout

Akihabara doesn’t have many sites, so the visitors and tourists don’t go to see historic landmarks or pretty scenery, they go to shop and experience the colorful insanity that is Japanese pop-culture. The city is designed to encircle the Akihabara train station, which can be easily reached by way of several different rail lines. The station rests on the famous Chūō-dōri thoroughfare, which functions as the main street. It is there where all of the most popular buildings and stores are; it’s also the place where any special events that are scheduled will be held.

    As shoppers wander farther and farther from the train station, the stores tend to have cheaper prices while becoming less and less foreigner friendly. Travelers are reminded to keep their eyes open and always gauge their distance from the center of the city. Bargain hunting is still a challenge though, as multiple stores will be selling the same item for a variety of different prices, some for very cheap while others are outrageously expensive. In fact, due to the impromptu and erratic nature of some dealers, a store may sell the same item for multiple prices.

 

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http://www.twitvid.com/4E77A

 

Sundays

Chūō-dōri closes off it's roads to vehicles so people can roam the streets. Since the road isn't being used by cars it allows for dealers to set up booths, local bands to put on shows, cosplayers to show off their costumes, and a huge variety of street performers to show off their interesting or freaky talents. At this time anyone can walk around and partake in the zany entertainment that can be anything but predictable. The musicians play anything and everything from classic rock to noise music. The street performers, much like the musicians, are everything but predictable. Don't be surprised to see a performer doing magic tricks while standing right next to this lady.

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Every Sunday in Akihabara used to be a huge festival. At least it was until one tragic Sunday, June 8th 2008, when a man drove his van into a crowd of people, got out of the van, and then started stabbing people. 7 people were killed and 10 were injured. This tragic event will always be remembered as the Akihabara massacre and decimated the festivities of Sunday. Since then the performers and cosplayers have slowly started coming back, and the festivities have made a recovery. Though today, tourists are still told that the Akihabaran Sunday is still yet to make it's full recovery.

 

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Sources

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihabara

http://www.akiba.or.jp/english/

http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Akihabara

http://www.akibaangels.com/hist_akiba.php

http://www.freshnessmag.com/2009/10/08/tate-modern-pop-life-exhibition-akihabara-majokko-princess-featuring-takashi-murakami-kirsten-dunst-mcg/

 

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