Interesting Akihabara

Let me just summarise the various things that I found interesting about Akihabara. Every geek friend of mine, both guys and girls, have encouraged me to go visit Akihabara. Since I was in Japan, I decided to take my own side-trip there by public transport.

Let’s start with adult videos.

While I was trying to find my bearings in Akihabara, I came across a multi-storey video store that sold nothing but adult videos. It was just like any other video store. It had shelves and shelves of AV, posters of AV stars, life-sized ads of AV stars and screens showing various AV trailers and demos. Some of the DVDs even came with collectible cards of the AV stars.

Now, finding an adult video store is nothing interesting. Almost every other civilised place has one, except in countries with holy attitude like ours, but there was one thing very interesting – pre-owned adult video stores! A brand-new AV DVD costs about 500 yen and the second hand one costs about 300 yen. This just shows that the market is large enough to support a secondary market for such items!

There are many things that can be said about such a society. However, that is tangential.

In addition, almost every DVD store had a small room at the back dedicated to AV. What is more interesting is that these rooms were usually grouped together with the Anime section. I guess that there must be a statistically significant correlation between otaku and the AV consumers. Talking about this, while I was sweating myself off on the streets of Ginza and Harajuku, nobody gave me any free tissue paper.

However, while on the streets of Akihabara, lots of sweet girls dressed up in various costumes would offer me free tissue paper and brochures. While I cannot read Japanese, I got the gist of some of these offers. One of it was of a massage service provided by people dressed in schoolgirl uniforms. Curious. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time in Akihabara to explore these other options.

Speaking of uniforms, while I was in one store browsing, I came across some maid’s uniforms. While there is nothing particularly interesting about finding a store selling maid’s uniforms, I got a surprise when I saw that these were uniforms for men! There was also a 7-storey main-street store specialising in all kinds of kinky toys and equipment.

Okay, as for the stuff that have nothing to do with sex.

There were tons of stores selling regular electronic gadgets and electric items. These were not really worth buying because their prices were similar to those in Malaysia. However, I finally came across a section of Akihabara specialising in small stores selling electronic components and equipment – that puts our own Jalan Pasar to shame. It dawned on me why Japan has a Sony – I have to attribute much of it to places like Akihabara.

There were also stores selling models and hobby collectibles – multi-storey buildings. In most cases, each floor would specialise in certain types of models or collectibles from certain anime series. There were even stores that specialised in selling only female characters while others specialised in mecha and other stuff. I managed to buy some mecha for myself and felt that my visit to Akiba was a success!

I think that no trip to Japan would be complete without a trip to Akihabara and I would have regretted it if I did not explore it on my own.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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