Subscribe to RSS feed subscribe by email twitter stumble this page  
Do As Tokyo Does Tokyo Realtime Akihabara
(Entered May. 18, 2010)
  Recent Do As Tokyo Does:

Tokyo Realtime Akihabara is apparently the first professionally produced audio guided walking tour of Akihabara, the area famous for being Tokyo's answer to all things electronic, computer, anime and otaku, and a must see for any tourist visiting Tokyo for the first time.
Joseph Tame of White Rabbit Press contacted me a while back asking if I'd consider reviewing the product here, in return for a free copy, and I finally got around to doing so.

tokyo realtime akihabara - photo courtesy of White Rabbit Press

I usually get tons of emails asking me to review stuff on my site, most of it just junk, or things that have no place on a Japan themed site, but after having a quick look at the media kit Joseph sent along in the email, I was intrigued by its professional look and content. Akihabara subculture was something I'd never really gotten into during all my years here, but its influence nowadays on Japanese culture as a whole is unmistakable, so perhaps it warranted a closer look. I'll be honest, I don't have any fascination for anime, dolls, cosplay, etc myself, but I am curious as to why they fascinate other people so much.

tokyo realtime akihabara skyline - photo courtesy of White Rabbit Press

The package comes with a 57 minute CD, a 20 page photo booklet, and a map with a recommended walking route. The audio is narrated by self professed otaku and blogger Patrick Galbraith (below photo), whom I have never met, but have definitely heard of, and seen, as pictures of him dressed as Goku from Dragon Ball Z are all over the place.

realtime akihabara patrick galbraith maid - photo courtesy of White Rabbit Press

Having lived in Tokyo for more than 10 years I'm pretty familiar by now with Akihabara, having walked around the area numerous times, but listening to the audio I discovered there were a few places I'd never heard of. 'Super Potato' was one of those places. Located on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of a ramshakle building, Super Potato is crammed full of retro video games, mostly from the 80s and early 90s. The 3rd and 4th floors sell old game consoles and cartridges, and on the 5th floor you can play some of the arcade games of yesteryear, like Pac-Man for example. For fun I played Pac-Man once, (100 yen! No discounts for 30 year old games here) and lost in about 1 minute...
The small room was crammed full of gamers though, all of whom seemed to be chain smoking, so I couldn't stay too long.

akihabara hot potato

Another place I'd not heard of before was Gachapon, a whole store filled with nothing except those gumball machine thingys that sell little toys in plastic containers. You see these dispensers all over Japan, but this was the first time I'd been in a shop that was exclusive to them. The toys/figures inside the plastic eggs range from kid stuff, to adult, to downright bizarre. For the more discerning collector, there are dispensers that hold things like miniature (female) body parts, etc...

akihabara gachapon

During my walk I also stumbled upon other strange things not mentioned in the audio, like how you can find UFO catchers with prizes like human sized pillows with your favourite female anime character on it...

akihabara pillow doll

Outside of Yodobashi Camera I stumbled into the surreal scene of hundreds of people all standing around silently playing their Nintento DSs... I didn't have the nerve to ask them what was going on though.

akihabara nintendo ds

As I've already been to a lot of the places on the map, I didn't follow the route exactly, but the guide would be an excellent way for a first timer to get an all-round taste of what Akihabara has to offer. Not only does it tell you where to go and what to see, it includes a brief history of the area, talks about maid cafes, the girl group AKB48, and features short interviews by such notables as Danny Choo (webmaster of, and famous for walking around Tokyo in a stormtrooper costume), Patrick Macias (editor of Otaku USA Magazine) and Kaichiro Morikawa (Meiji University professor). If you're interested in ordering Akihabara Realtime, you can do so online at Tokyo Realtime.


Abandoned Ginza
Tokyo International Forum
The Largest City in the World
Maman under Roppongi Hills
Rainbow Bridge at Night
Gundam Cafe
Barbershop Heads
Tokyo Realtime Akihabara
Ukishima Factory Walk
Library or Bookstore?
Luxurious Lavatory
Hie Shrine Akasaka - 100 Torii
Last Gasp of Sakura
Kawasaki at Night
Concrete and Trash
In Japan, Cute Rules
Takeshita Street - Harajuku
Hanami 2010
Tokyo's Nonhuman Denizens 2
All Entries

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009
Tripbase Blog Awards 2009


Recent Comments...

Recent Artwork:
winter beauty

Blogroll - Friends:
Michael John Grist
Comicrocosmos by SZLIN
Jason Collin Photography
Philbuchan's Weblog
The Itinerant American

Blogroll - Japan:
Alive in Kyoto
An Englishman in Osaka
As I See Japan... From L.A.
Gaijin Tonic
i, cjw
Japan Probe
Japan Sugoi
Tokyo Times

Blogroll - Elsewhere:
Buy Absinthe
The Daily Kimchi
Travel Photo Blogging

Great Art Sites:
Red Bubble
Deviant Art


Blender Poll  
  Mike's Facts
sheep on the hunt