I read about the Akihabar area of Tokyo in one of the tourist brochures. This area of Tokyo can be found near the Akihabara station on the JR rail line. The area established itself as the place to find electrical goods for the home in the years after World War II. Today the area is the shopping district for video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.
In addition to the electrical/electronics products that can be found there, the area is considered by many to be an otaku (a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly towards the anime and manga fandom) cultural center. As you can see in the video clip above, icons for anime and manga are on the buildings throughout the area. Many cosplayers can be found on the streets handing out ads for area shops. Prominent of these are those advertising the ‘maid cafés’.
The area has several ‘maid cafés‘ and ‘cosplay cafés‘. We saw several young Japanese women in front of shops dressed up in the ‘maid’ costumes. I did not realize why they were dressed up like they were until I started researching for this blog post. As one might expect, the area was crowded and most of that crowd was made up of young men.
We just past quickly through the area looking. I could easily have spent hours looking through the shops.
They had several different types of cookies, but we controlled ourselves and only ordered three. They were served warm, and they were all very good.
We thought that the “freakshakes” (see the red sign to upper left) looked intriguing. As we sat discussing which one to try, an American couple sitting next to us overheard us talking about the shakes. They suggested the Nutella shake, which they had ordered. We took their advice and we were not disappointed.
What can I say? This was an awesome shake. And yes, that is a chocolate cookie topping it off.
I chatted with some of the young women working at the shop. CookieTime got its start in 1983 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Two Cookie Bars are now open, one in Queensland and the other in Tokyo. My wife and I both believe one of these shops would do great in the Domain or Domain Northside areas back in Austin.
I told the young ladies working at CookieTime I wrote a blog and asked them for a photo. They (two Americans and an Australian) gathered around their “cookie monster” and posed for the shot above.
If I am in Tokyo again and have the chance, I will be returning to CookieTime! If you are in Tokyo and near the Meiji Shrine or Takeshita Street, take a few minutes and drop by CookieTime. You will not be disappointed!
I wasn’t aware that the “Kanda Second-hand Books Area” existed until I happened across it on a “What to see in Tokyo” map. The formal name for the area is Kanda-Jimbocho. Jimbocho is named after the 17th-century samurai Jimbo Nagaharu who lived in the area.
After a fire destroyed much of the area in 1913, Shigeo Iwanami opened up a bookstore in the area. It later became a publishing house which is still located in the district. After that has followed many other bookstores. Somewhere between 150 and 180 bookstores can now be found in the area.
Most of the bookstores sell used books, but there are quite a few with new publications on sale.
While some English language books can be found, most as you would expect, are in Japanese.
I took photos of just a few of the places that we walked by.
As you can see there is a wide variety of shops.
You walk by some of these shops that lean towards older works being resold and you can smell the old paper and ink. That is not something you find in modern bookstores. It is more likely what you would find in the stacks in older libraries.
If you like books you may want to visit this area of Tokyo, even if you can’t read Japanese.
When looking for someplace within walking distance of my hotel I came across the Sony Archives. The small museum is located at 6-6-39 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. The archive collection is managed by Sony, is free and is open to the public, but it does require a reservation ( +81 (0) 3-5448-4455 ).
Sony was founded in the wake of world War II in the fall of 1946. The Sony Archives is not large. You can easily browse through it in about an hour. Many products are on display, including the prototype electric rice cooker that was their first product.
If you are interested in more history of Sony, the PodcastTech Stuff had a series of three episodes (November 2, 9, & 16 of 2017) that give a good background story. You can find them on the iTunes site.
I would not recommend going out of your way to visit the Archives, but if you are in the area and have a little free time it is an interesting walk through elecronics history.
This is the first time I have been to Japan. We stayed at the Grand Prince Hotel.
This is one of three Prince HotelsÂ (Takanawa, New Takanawa Prince, and Sakura Tower) all located in a 10-acre garden which formerly belonged to the Takeda Palace of Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda. The hotel is modern and very nice.
We were fortunate to have a view from our 6th story room onto the garden area. It is very well maintained and I saw a steady stream of visitors while we were staying there, including more than one wedding party.
The garden is well laid out and marked. We were visiting Japan in May so we missed most of the flowers identified on the chart. I had the opportunity to go down and walk around through the garden. It is a very tranquil place in busy Tokyo.Â