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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Keep your eyes open

Laying it all out

Rhythm is a dancer

Model it

Japan's next top model

Light the way

Batman loves to race

Organise it

You and only you

Tripping the light fantastic

Tickling the ivories

Water out

Bag man

What's in a name?

The things we've seen

Cooked books

Break it down, gaming time

How do you say?

Put it in your skull

Wait for it

Open, don't eat

Fare thee well

Drinking the night away

Thanks to its vast collection of electronics and anime stores, as well as game parlours, Akihabara has well and truly earned its nickname "electric town" — not that the rest of Tokyo is living in the bronze age, mind you.

Before we take a tour of the floors of Yodobashi Akiba, an electronics superstore near Akihabara station, there's plenty to distract us outside. There are stacks of games parlours, like Club Sega. There are also quite a few stores stocked floor to ceiling with adult goods, such as the very innocently themed Mulan Akiba.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Generalising greatly, the gaming parlours we visited in Akihabara followed this general layout: claw machines on the first floor, photo booths on the second floor, arcade machines on the next floor, gambling or pachinko machines following on from that, RPG-style games on the one beyond that and the last floor filled up with head-to-head electronic soccer games, air hockey tables and the like. Unfortunately, none of the Taito Stations we checked out had a Bubble Bobble machine; the closest we found was a Puzzle Bubble machine.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The game at the front of the Akihabara Taito Station features a digital version of the traditional Japanese drum, which at various points in the game needs to flipped over.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Any place that sells electrical goodies is more than likely to have a selection of models, allowing you to celebrate your inner geek. To that end, there are plenty of car, manga and anime models tempting yen out of your wallet.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

If your interests are a little more — how shall we say it? — idiosyncratic, the stores at Akihabara have got you covered. Even if you're an avid collector of model buses, castles or submarines.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

In our wide, brown land, halogen lights have only been recently usurped by more efficient, longer-lasting fluorescent ones. In Japan, they're moving on to the next thing in lighting tech: LED lights, which are even more efficient.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Tokyo has a love affair with odd juxtaposition. And, no; we're not sure about the connection between Batman and racing seats.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Given the mass amounts of cables that have taken over our study, living, dining and bedrooms, we were very tempted to pick one of these up. The lack of luggage space ultimately put paid to that.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

As comfortable as your current keyboard may be, sometimes you want a keyboard to be an extension of yourself. Navy SEALs living in Japan should have no problem finding a keyboard that's them.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Space is often at a premium in Tokyo, so it's no surprise to see that there's quite a bit of demand for electric pianos.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

You can even get an electric baby grand, if your heart so desires.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

After you've stuffed your stockings with model trucks and keyboards, it's time to be practical. There's an assortment of home electrical appliances on this level, from bread makers and rice cookers to washing machines, dishwashers, heaters, air conditioners and humidifiers (pictured).

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

If you've bought too many pieces of electrical gear, or giant Pocky, to fit into the suitcases that you brought with you, there's always a solution to be found.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Hitachi's TV range in Japan is branded Wooo, just as most Sharp televisions also bear the Aquos name. These sub-brands also carry over into what we would consider unlikely territory. Don't be at all surprised to see stores selling, and people wielding, Wooo and Aquos-branded Android phones.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Just a quick side note about TV in Japan: almost everything on free-to-air TV is in lovely, crisp HD, but English-language entertainment is hard to come by, even in five-star hotels. In just over a week in Japan, we chanced upon just one English-language show. Let's just that this writer is now an expert on washi, or traditional Japanese paper.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Olympus may be in serious spots of bother, seeing as the company has falsified its books for a decade or two now. That's yet to filter through to the shop floor, though. There's plenty of Olympus camera gear around, and even more Olympus advertising adorning not only this store, but all around town.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Never mind the fact that in and around Akihabara there are enough game parlours to last a lifetime, this electrical department store has managed to find space for a few arcade machines, including Dragonball Heroes.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Translation devices are cool.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Even cooler when they're humbly named Brain.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

We were in Tokyo prior to the launch of the PlayStation Vita. That didn't stop this store from dedicating several aisles to games that you couldn't quite buy for a console that wasn't yet available.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Got some young sprockets that you need to distract? Slip some yen into these capsule stations, and you'll be rewarded with a tiny toy that fits inside an equally tiny egg-style shell.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

No giant superstore in Japan is complete without an assortment of good luck cats.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

As we searched for Akihabara metro station in the cold night air, we stumbled across the Gundam Cafe, which was, surprisingly (for us, anyway), populated by an equal mixture of guys and girls.

Derek Fung travelled to the Tokyo Motor Show as a guest of Toyota Australia.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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