Akihabara — a town where you can experience Japan, both old and new

Akihabara, the town that Fa-So-La AKIHABARA was named after, is the mecca of the “otaku” culture that attracts anime fanatics, video game fanatics, and consumer electronics fanatics from around the world. However, did you know that it has a completely different side? There are also many traditional places where you can experience Japan’s ancient history. In the megacity, Tokyo, towns like Akihabara, where you can experience Japan, both old and new in such a compact area, are extremely rare.

The places we picked out this time are all within a 10-minute walk distance from Akihabara Station. It only takes two to three hours to visit all of them. So, even if you did not plan to visit Akihabara for your trip to Tokyo, a few additional hours would not be that difficult to fit into your plan.

The area in front of Akihabara Station It all starts here. As soon as you get out of Akihabara Station, you will be welcomed with an unbelievable view with many of the buildings being anime shops, video game shops, and consumer electronics stores. See and feel the identity of the town, which was once called the world’s largest electric town. Radio Kaikan, a landmark of Akihabara that appears in super popular anime “Steins;Gate,” is also located in front of the station, so don’t forget to check that out too!

Kanda Myoujin After enjoying the area in front of Akihabara Station, let’s head to Kanda Myoujin. It is a Shinto shrine with about 1300 years of history. It attracts one of the highest numbers of visitors among the Shinto shrines in Tokyo, and it is known for bringing good luck in many ways such as romantic relationships, business success, and entertainment careers. Since Akihabara has grown to be one of the leading electronics/business towns in Japan in the last few decades, the shrine attracted attention when it began offering a charm for “IT joho anzen shugo” (meaning “IT information safety and protection”). So, the shrine is also loved as a unique shrine where an “IT deity” resides.

Unique vending machines Akihabara is also famous as a town with many vending machines that sell very unique products. According to one theory, since there used to be not so many cafés or convenience stores in this area, people began placing vending machines instead, and as the vending machine competition became intense, more and more vending machines began carrying unusual stuff such as oden (a type of Japanese hot pot dish), rhinoceros beetles, insect food products, figures, anime goods, and pop idol photos. It would be so much fun to search for unusual vending machines that you don’t usually see in other countries!

Mansei Bridge When you get a little tired walking around the busy electronic town, stop by at Mansei Bridge and take a rest while enjoying the view of Kanda River. Right next to the bridge is a commercial facility called “mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi,” which was built making used of the impressive red brick structures of the old Manseibashi Station which operated there over 100 years ago, so it truly is a place where you can experience both old and new. The facility also features a unique space called “2013 Platform.” It is a special observation deck built by utilizing the train platform of the old Manseibashi Station, from which you can watch up-close the trains running on both sides.

AKI-OKA ARTISAN / CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE Okachimachi, the town next to Akihabara, has long been known as a town of artisans. And underneath the elevated railway connecting the train stations of these two towns is “2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN,” a facility built under the theme of “monozukuri” (meaning “making of things”). At the facility, the artisan culture, which has long taken root in Okachimachi, has been transformed through modern interpretation. With craft studios and stores integrated together, not only can you purchase high-quality handmade products, you can also participate in various workshops. Following “2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN,” “CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE” opened as a second project for the purpose of offering artisanal food products from all around Japan that have been carefully selected by retail buyers. Here you will find many traditional products, which have been reinterpreted with contemporary ideas, so you can enjoy both the old and new of Japanese culture.

In Akihabara, there are so many other fascinating sightseeing spots that you could explore. You can also enjoy shopping the latest electronics and rare anime goods. By the time you get on the train back to your hotel, your bag will be packed with unique souvenirs. The best way we recommend when you stroll around the town is to visit new places and old places alternately as much as you can so that you can enjoy the feeling as if you are repeatedly traveling back and forth in time. (Information as of April 2023)