Some 500m southeast of Kanda Myōjin, a blaze of adverts and a cacophony of competing audio systems announce Akihabara (秋葉原). Akiba, as it’s popularly known, is Tokyo’s foremost discount shopping area for electrical and electronic goods of all kinds, hence it’s also known as the city’s “Electric Town”. These days it’s also “the” destination for anime and manga fans and the spawning ground for the decidedly surreal “maids’ cafés”.

Inside the Akihabara Crossfield complex is the Tokyo Anime Center, which has small displays on recent anime but is really little more than a glorified shop selling anime-related goods.

Today’s electronic stores are direct descendants of a postwar black market in radios and radio parts that took place beneath the train tracks around Akihabara Station. You can recapture some of the atmosphere in the narrow passages under the tracks just west of the station in the tiny stalls of Tōkyō Radio Depāto (東京ラジオデパート) – four floors stuffed with plugs, wires, boards and tools for making or repairing audio-visual equipment.

Contemporary art is also starting to find its way into Akiba. On a side street off Chūō-dōri, you’ll find the landscaped entrance to a new art complex, 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Based inside a renovated junior high school, the centre hosts close to twenty galleries, with a revolving mix of exhibitions, interactive installations, and workshops.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Tokyo features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sake is quickly replacing craft beer as the cool kid on the drinks scene globally – and a number of breweries have recently opened in the UK, USA and Austral…

10 Nov 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

As the biggest city in the world, it’s unsurprising that Tokyo is crammed full of different places to stay – and with each district boasting its own charact…

08 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
A taste of Tokyo: the city’s best food experiences

A taste of Tokyo: the city’s best food experiences

If you really want to get to the heart of Tokyo's culinary scene, you'll need to go beyond the city's bustling restaurants and best-loved drinking dens. Rebecc…

21 Jul 2017 • Rebecca Hallett local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook