Akihabara Round 2! – Small Shops this time!

5 04 2009

Heya everyone,  as you all know I went to Akihabara last week again and then bought things till I was broke.  I’ve decided to do a further introduction of Akihabara, and at some point I intend to implement this with a map somehow to make it easier for me to remember where I went.  Last time I focused on stores that were primarily large chains or stores that had a significant store presence.  This time my focus is on the smaller less known stores, that sometimes have better merchandise because there is less people to buy from them.

Chuo Dori by Night

Chuo Dori by Night

Akihabara looks kind of pretty by night with all those lights, so I decided to use that pic instead of a boring day time picture :P.

Alright first up, we have! The figure hobby store.  That’s it’s name, literally.  You can find it just by walking north along Chuo Dori.

Figure - Hobby Store

Figure - Hobby Store

This store is one of the best stores you can go to limited figures and related goods.  It’s 8 floors high, with everything ranging from Gundam Models, train models, figures, gachapon parts, trading cards, and much more.  However, this store doesn’t sell these things cheap.  It’s one of those stores that carries its rare goods in glass cases at exorbant prices.  Last I checked, I saw Volks Hatsune Miku and GSC Hatsune Miku in here, going at approximately 15,000 yen, which is double their original price.  This store is definitely worth taking a look even if you have no interest in figures or hobby, just to get a good idea about what otaku are interested in.

The following building is right in your face as you exit from the east exit of Akihabara station.

Radio Yellow Building - I dunno

Radio Yellow Building - I dunno

This is probably the signal most significant building in Akihabara.  It’s 5 floors of pure goodness, though you wouldn’t know it from the outside.  It’s been a while and I can’t remember all the names of the stores inside this building, but I’ll do my best!

The most obvious feature, and is visible in the photo, is the green Kotobukiya store on the right.  It’s basically an anime light store, with merchandise from only the most famous of famous anime, e.g. Studio Ghibili stuff, or some Final Fantasy stuff.  The second floor features K-Books.  It is probably your premier destination for any sort of manga, light novel, magazine and more.  They carry far more commerciallly produced content than any other store in Akihabara (at least that I have seen).

The third floor contains a number of figure, hobby, and Gundam model stores and is otherwise not extremely different from the standard fare here in Akihabara.  However, the fourth floor features the Volks show room.  Volks is probably without a doubt the best figure maker in Japan (At least imho).  They’re figures are always highly sought after, highly priced, and near impossible to acquire with a preorder or a huge wallet.  The volks show room has a collection of all the figures released by Volks up to this point and the pre-orders for the most recent ones.  Right now, they’re offering preorders for the trio of Hayate, Nanoha, and Fate from Nanoha for 10,000 yen each :(.  The store also sells replacement Gundam joints, and parts of the store sell the more otaku heavy Kotobukiya figures.  There are also a number of 1/2 scale Ah! My Goddess statues up here too.

Fifth floor is the Yellow submarine store.  They’re essentially a trade in store, where they buy goods and leftovers from people and other stores, put them in glass cabinets and set up arbitrary prices for them.  You can find anything ranging from Puchi figures to hatsune miku music boxes in here.  Almost anything can be found, if you put enough time into it.  Also, the prices are very very inconsistent, so keep your eyes open.  I somehow managed to find a GSC Hatsune Miku in here for 5,000 yen, which I bought and resold to the previous figure store in this post for 8,500 yen or so, and made myself 3,500 yen!

If you cross Chuo Dori, and head into the back alley you’ll find this store.  They are selling anime t-shirts out front.  Inside, they have a large collection of doujinshi and other doujin items.  I bought my wonderfully fantastic Touhou paper fan here.  First floor, has all sorts of doujin goodies, and the second floor is devoted to doujinshi and software.  If you turn around from this store, you’ll also find a store that sells less than legitimate items, including PSP pandora batteries, DS R4’s, cellphone hypersims, etc.  I wanted to take a picture, but got shoo’ed away by some suspicious people.

Weird White store

Weird White store

TOO MANY MAID CAFES .  Yea..  there are 10324i023984302948290348 of them in Akihabara.  There are also 192309238490238423048 promo maids handing out flyers, tissues, and what not to try and get you to come.  Don’t bother with them if you don’t speak fluent Japanese, they’ll just kick you out :(.  Also, do NOT take pictures of the maids on the street, they will flip out.  The maids are a popular part-time  job for pretty girls who want more $$ to spend.  They get money and men(albeit, otakus) to admire them while they are working, so they largely enjoy the job.  However, they must usually keep it a secret.  If you take a picture, it usually ends up on the internet, and it always ends up getting discovered by someone you don’t want :P, so the girls FLIP OUT hardcore.  No more ms. nice maid or goshuujin-sama :P.  So just don’t do it lol.

TOO MANY MAID CAFES

TOO MANY MAID CAFES

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Oh, I also spotted something else that was interesting.  Maids sell in Akihabara.  The maid phenomenon has spread beyond the borders of a cafe and… into glasses shops…

Maid glasses shop??

Maid glasses shop??

And train maid cafe’s too wut?  All these shops are all in roughly the same location too.  It’s kind of nuts.

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Next up for a little change in pace I introduce a Sofmap store.  Sofmap typically only sells electronic goods and appliances just like Bic Camera and Yodabashi Camera, but here in Akihabara they have a number of satellite stores that sell otaku specific goods like figures, eroge, games, and more importantly music.  The softmap stores sometimes have small entrances spread out all across Chuo Dori, but definitely head inside them to take a look.  The one below, is a figure, bishoujo game, and hentai game one.

dsc_0516

There is another chain of stores running on the west side of Chuo Dori called Maroichi or something.  They’re mostly an electronics chain, but since this is Akihabara they have been corrupted into catering to the otaku!  Enter, the Maroichi Hobby Store.  3 Floors of gaming, Gundam, and figure goodness!

dsc_0503

One last thing before I call it quits for this post! Coin Lockers!  Only 200 yen, and they help relieve those sore shoulders and and hurting hands from carrying goods for several days.  Japan is actually safe enough, where public coin lockers are actually useable, unlike in Canada or the USA.  If you feel insecure about ones that are just located in a public area, there are always plenty of them inside the gates of most JR stations.  There are huge numbers in Akihabara station, and I was able to find a large one with no problems at all.

Coin Lockers

Coin Lockers

So there you have it, Akihabara round 2.  I’d say, I’ve maybe only really seen half of Akihabara up until this point.  There is plenty more to see fortunately, though I don’t know when I will be paying another visit.  Next stop, Onomichi, Hiroshima, and Miyajima!

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9 responses

5 04 2009
Rin

Okay…now I’m temped to go to Akihabara…more then ever…
I think if I’m to go to a maid cafe…I should go with you…since you know where they are…
We should have an Akihabara day when I go to Japan in the summer…

5 04 2009
Yuki Phnx

maido kisatten……..i’ll need to get more fluent in japanese then.

i was watching a program about the maid phenomenon, and they have maid bars, maid hair salons. everything but with maids! moeeeeee~

wow, that figure hobby store looks good. and so does the doujin store. if u ever really draw up a map, POST IT! i can use it wen i finally go to japan

5 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

@Rin: Haha, my Japanese is not nearly good enough to make it into a maid cafe as of yet. Still working hard on it!

Akihabara day would be cool, there’s much more that remains to be explored!

@Yuki Phnx: The maid cafes usually demand near native level I think, or else they just try and get you to leave.

Yea, I’ll make a map when I have a lot of excess time. I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet.

5 04 2009
guorbatschow

:>

8 04 2009
meronpan

hmmm guess i need more volks figures to make a fair ranking but alter tops my list for pvc manufacturers 😛 volks definitely has the upper hand when it comes to really nice kit stuff though if i’m not mistaken?

i really need to explore more in akihabara… in my last two trips i basically kept rotating between the stores i was familiar with ^^;;

i did go to a maid cafe thou ^^ was really fun (though embarrassing ^^;;) are they really that strict about the language thing? i mean… i wouldn’t exactly recommend it for non-speakers anyway due to the all the stuff you’ll miss out on… but if you’re an otaku you’d still be able to enjoy yourself if they’d let you in. perhaps they just assumed i was japanese when i walked in with my gaijin friends. moe moe power ^^

an easy way around the maid picture thing (outside advertising gals, not in the cafes, where’s it’s not allowed so that they can charge you for a pic :P) – just ask them! i walked up to one and asked, (sumimasen, shashin totte ii desuka? alternately, sumimasen, ichi mai de ii desuka?) and she was more than happy to oblige. maybe i got lucky, but hey, a chance to talk to a cute girl, what’s there to lose 😛

13 04 2009
Peach

I’ve been to Akihabara twice. I was in Akiba a few weeks ago, and I hardly speak any Japanese 🙂 I went to a maid cafe, it was hilarious! all the maids wanted to speak to us in their funny Engrish!
It is true they hate thier picture taken, many of them even if you ask say they aren’t allowed! You can take sneaky ones though ;D

14 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

I’m surprised you managed to get into a maid cafe without getting the boot for not speaking Japanese. They usually feel you’re in the way of their business, and you can’t really get the full experience without being able to speak the language, unfortunately.

21 04 2009
Meh

You missed white canvas =\

21 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

Eh which store is white canvas? By no means is my list complete, there’s just soooo much to Akihabara. I just documented whatever I managed to make my way to.

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