Getting Around Akihabara
Posted by meronpan on February 22, 2009
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel like I’m ever in danger of being lost in Japan… there’s always a subway station, rail station, or taxi around (not to mention helpful people) to get me back home. Navigating to a specific address, on the other hand, is a nightmare. Many buildings are packed with multiple stores on each of their 5-8 floors and no one seems to get around using street names.
So! Here’s a post to help you find what you’re looking for in Akiba… or to at least make it easier to get a feel for how the area is laid out.
This map is usually being distributed in front of Gamers, which is just outside the JR station. If you don’t see a stand, it might be too early in the morning, but it should be out by 11 or noon or so. Evidently there was an English version at one point, although this time I didn’t see it on the table… Note on the maps I’ve scanned, NORTH is to the RIGHT. So “up” on the map is west, “left” is south, and “down” is east.
The first point of interest is the JR station. I almost always take JR to akiba, though if you don’t happen to be by a JR station, there’s always the subway. Anyhow, it’s important you get your bearings after arriving or you could quite possibly end up walking away from all the goodies! (I’ve done that on my earlier trips ^^;)
Let’s assume you come by JR for now. You should see a bunch of signs for the “Akihabara Electric Town Exit”. That’s the one you want. Eventually you should arrive at the ticket gates, and you’ll have a choice – left or right.
If you go left, you’ll end up at the red X above. Right takes you to the blue X. Unless you’re going to UDX (where the WonHobby event was this year) or otherwise know your way around you probably want to head to the left (red X). Do so and you should see the following:
In the above pic, you’re looking in the direction of the green arrow. Walk in that direction to the yellow/red/blue sign (circled in red in the pic) and you’ve found Radiokaikan! This building has a massive amount of stores, including the Kotobukiya store (pictured below, figures are on the 2nd floor, not directly connected – you have to go upstairs then walk down the hall),Volks store (way on the top floors (5 & 6? or 6 & 7? can’t quite remember), and K-Books (3rd floor, tons of manga. They also have some character goods, although there’s a used section that contains dakimakura which is… err yeah, so make sure you know exactly what you’re buying).
Along practically every hallway and face of the building you’ll see stores.
Above is an alley in the radiokaikan building. If you refer to the station map pic, it’s the alleyway between buildings 56 and 57 (the white numbers in red circles are building numbers). You can see there’s 5 stores on the right side alone.
There’s lotsa stairs and elevators and such inside the building to get up, pictured above is where an escalator is (arrow is pointing to it), accessible from the street. It’s directly to the left of the kotobukiya store. If you’re curious, the red letters in the sign above say ラジオ会館 – ラジオ rajio 会 kai 館 kan.
If you refer back to the station map I marked, in the direction of the purple arrow you’ll see the above view. Not as much (still a buncha stuff thou ^^;) of interest in that direction and if you cross the street and then the wafer, you’ll be walking yourself out of Akihabara in a hurry. If you do want to get right into some ero stuff like AV or need tenga products, just head that way and into m’s on the corner of the building on the right (building 57 on the map, lower left corner). That’ll get ya started :P If you want ero manga though, K-Books has a huge selection (err, not that I would know…? *cough cough* ^^;;), so better to head to Radiokaikan.
The purple arrow can be a good direction to head if you need a quick bite to eat. Pictured above, starting from the left, there’s a convience store (NEWDAYS), Homemade curry time… turn left at the corner and you’ll find a tempura donburi place, an izakaya, soba restaurant, tonkatsu retaurant (和辛 (wakou) – if you’re never had good tonkatsu, this is a good place to start), sushidon place, ramen, and two other places. Walk further down and you’ll see on the map Book Off should be on your left (building 88). I didn’t make it to this store unfortunately, but have been to another. They deal in used manga/books and if you’re down with that… soooo cheap! I got some shakugan no shana light novels for 105 yen each and the first volume of the Nanoha strikers manga for 350 yen. Both usually go for 5-600 yen. Depending on the store they may also have CDs, games and DVDs.
Alrighty, back in the direction of the green arrow. Keep walking, and look to your right for Gamers!
Buncha computer/electronics/other random gadget stores in the way, but marked with the red arrow above you’ll get to this multistory paradise kinda across the street from radiokaikan.
Gamers is an all around store with games, manga, anime, music, figures, characters goods… all sorts stuff. Ground floor is where I picked up the latest G’s Festival containing a dakimakura cover of Feena. Everytime I buy manga here, they always seem to be giving out bonus character bookmarks, so definitely worth a look before finalizing your K-Books purchases :P Be aware that Gamers is divided into two sides – each side has different stuff and I think they’re only connected on the manga (4th?) floor. There’s an escalator (behind the van in the pic) that takes you to the right half of the store, whereas the elevator/stairs accessible from the street level store takes you to the other half (I think ^^;;) – best to just look at the floor guides.
If you keep walking past Gamers the big street in front of you will be 中央通り (chuuou doori, probably more popularly romanized as chuo dori). This is the main street and it’s lined with a billion more shops, arcades, and sometimes restaurants/quick eats.
Reaching the street, you should see laox and onoden:
(above pic is from my 2008 trip… i think it looked about the same this year ^^;)
Again, heading left (would be south, towards the river) quickly takes you out of akihabara, but don’t discount the sega arcade (top left corner of building 55) and ishimaru music stores (building 1). If you head to the right, you’ll be confronted with store after store, some small, others very similar to gamers.
If you click on the above pic, you can better see the stores I’ve highlighted in green and red, along chuou doori. The green box is asobit city (although if I remember, not the one where I found the huge 1/1 figures/dolls on display), the red is where toranoana and animate are. Toranoana has a ton of doujinshi (like 4 floors or more?) so if that’s your thing, I think you’ll be pleased ^^. Also, as you’re strolling along chuou doori, there are some bigger electronic stores with pc stuff, cameras, phones, etc. For now I’ll be restricting the conversation to akiba-kei stuff but feel free to ask if there’s something else ya wanna know.
Here’s another zoomed in view, this time of the area the area west of chuou doori (above chuou doori on the map, since north is right):
The magenta boxes are the ishimaru stores – the one in building 1 (SOFT2) has tons of music – jpop, anime along with dvds up the wazoo. Ishimaru in building 4 is jazz if I remember… the buildings in building 6 are the ishimaru character & hobby store (bottom on the map) and Idol (top on the map, read: porn) store. The ishimaru in building 18 is SOFT1 and might have games (haven’t been recently but I believe when it used to be in a different location it was games…)
Above is the ishimaru game/hoby store, coming from chouou doori. Behind it you can see the idol store. The yellow box I marked on the map in “building” 6 is the traders store – I’ve never actually been in, but it’s 3 stories of used goods.
The first floor has TV games (console games) and DVDs, 2nd floor is PC games, and the third is… more TV games?
The purple box is Club Sega, which should be an easy to spot landmark on chuou doori. Arcades like this one and Game Taito Station are usually packed with UFO catcher games on the ground floor so head upstairs for SF IV and other goodies.
The dark blue box is the @home maid cafe, I recommend all otaku going at least once ^_^ …though if you can, take along a Japanese speaker ‘cuz it may be hard to figure out what they’re asking you to do ^^; There’s plenty others on the map if anyone’s interested.
The red box is the asobit city I was in looking for character goods. They had one floor with some stuff, but perhaps the bigger spectacle is the 1/1 figures they had on display:
Huge and expensive ^^;
Saber woulda been more impressive in armor :P
Rei along with some busty gals (they from anything?)
No wig for rei.
Asuka and… gah, who is that?
Oppai and pettanko?
The final box I highlighted in cyan is a store called cosmate – perhaps it’s this store? Alas, didn’t notice until looking over the map as I was making this post, but if it is indeed the linked store, should be a good cosplay resource.
If you’d like to check out one of the huge department stores, head east (down on the map) towards Yodobashi camera.
If you don’t exit directly on that side from the JR station, there’s a little walk way that gets ya there, rather than having to go all the way around. Otherwise, yeah, head under the tracks towards the big red box marked above.
9 floors of insanity – the toys floor is like a Toy’R’Us in and of itself. Computers, cameras, lighting equipment, home appliances, luggage… sooooo much stuff! There’s even a floor of restaurants on the 8th floor if you’re hungry :P Don’t think I snapped any pics this time, so here’s one from my 2008 trip.
As you may have guessed, despite spending so much time in Akiba, I’ve still only scratched the surface in terms of the stores it offers. The map is full of stores whose names I don’t even recognize, and I’ve probably never even been to a lot of the buildings in the north west (upper right on the map) part of akiba. I’m a really slow shopper so I spend most of my time browsing goods when I should be exploring. On the other hand, it’s pretty daunting with the multi-floor shops crammed into every last square inch of property ^^;;
Some helpful vocabulary which you may want to get familiar with – all the multifloor stores have a directory, but I don’t think it’s always in English, so look out for the following:
アニメ – anime
イベントフロア – event floor (don’t go here unless you’re attending an event ^^;)
雑誌 – magazines
漫画 or マンガ or まんが – manga
同人誌 – doujinshi
ゲーム – games
ホビー – hobby (i forget what this exactly refers to, gunpla & figures perhaps?)
アイドル – idol
中古 – used (this may explain why something is very cheap! often explains $30 dakimakura, so beware!!)
フィギュア – figures
キャラクタグッズ - character goods (charms, dakimakura, posters, etc.)
If you do decide to come by subway, note that the hibiya line is east of the JR station (down on the map), so you’ll be right by yodobashi camera. Hibiya line Akihabara station marked in red, below.
You can see building 93 on the map, in the middle right of the map, which is yodobashi camera.
So there’s a brief look at some of the stores I frequent in Akiba. Again, feel free to ask about specific stores or directions to other Akiba attractions I haven’t covered. Now that I have that map scanned it will be a lot easier to point out locations.
Also yes, I’m back home orz, but going through loot still great ^^ Loot post in progress!