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24 Hours in Akihabara

Make the most of a day in Tokyo’s “Electric Town” with this whirlwind itinerary of geeky shrines, electronics shopping, arcades, maid cafés and extreme ramen.

By 6 min read

Morning

8 a.m.

Imagine this: You’ve just spent the night in one of Grids Akihabara’s futuristic capsule beds. Get up, take a shower and grab a fresh latté from the pop-up Streamer Coffee Company downstairs (see 0.31). You’re staying in Akihabara and you’re starting your day off right in Tokyo’s world-famous technological hive of computers and general geekery!

9 a.m.

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Pick up a charm to protect your electronics, prevent identity theft or bring blessings on your Silicon Valley startup at Kanda Myojin Shrine, the geekiest temple in town. The talismans sold here are specifically designed to look like computer hardware and come with a fake 16KB (yes, KB) of RAM for extra good luck — just in case you run out of space on your karmic hard drive.

10 to 11 a.m.

Akihabara Electric Town

Most places in Akihabara start to open at 10 a.m. and the main streets get busy quickly, especially during peak times. So embrace the calm before the storm by exploring the main shopping areas. Yodobashi Camera’s mega-store is nine floors of the finest new technology that money can buy. Want to buy a new camera for your trip? There’s a whole floor for that. How about upgrading that old computer of yours? There are about three floors for that. Animate has a huge range of figurines, stationery and cosplay items for those who are so inclined. For your old-school anime needs, check out the huge Radio Kaikan, only a one-minute walk from the Akihabara station Electric Town Exit. Ghibli, Sailor Moon and Pokémon goods abound.

11 to 11:30 a.m.

While we’re on the topic of Pokémon, you probably fancy a snack after all that excitement. Just around the corner is a discreet-looking Kurikoan taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries usually filled with sweet red bean paste or custard) stall, that also happens to specialize in delicious Magikarp taiyaki. In game, your Magikarp might disappoint but we think the edible kind is making a real splash of Gyarados proportions.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

In June, Grids Akihabara is offering yukata workshops. This a fantastic chance for you learn more about Japanese culture and wear some beautiful, traditional clothes. Not only will a professional dresser help you into your yukata, you can also take your time walking in the surrounding area and snapping pictures. Old Japan-meets-new Japan is the perfect equation for experiencing… Japan! If you’re not here in June, no worries. Grids regularly host similar cultural events including workshops, tours and day trips.

Afternoon

1 to 2 p.m.

Sega store in Akihabara

How about trying your luck with Japan’s illustrious UFO Catchers and arcade games at the Sega store. Anything from giant tubes of Pringles potato chips to adorably gigantic, plush toys are up for grabs. Arcade games never went out of vogue in Japan so you can find anything from classic Super Mario Bros, tame-but-fun taiko drums to intense Dance Dance Revolution mat games. If you’re feeling really lucky, why not challenge the locals to a game or two?

2 to 3 p.m.


Ready your tastebuds because it’s time to whet your appetite at Nadeshiko Sushi. Sushi has long been a man’s world but this restaurant is putting the myths to rest with its delicious menu made from the freshest ingredients. Note to those interested in traditional Japanese fashion: the servers all wear seasonal kimono and yukata to complement the dishes. That’s dedication to the sushi cause.

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Maid cafés have gotten a bit of a bad rep in the past but big names like @Home Cafe and Maid Dreamin’ are helping to turn the kawaii (cute) stereotypes inside out. Relax with a delicious matcha latté (you may have to sing a song when it arrives for an extra-kawaii taste) and request some cute coffee art on the top. We highly recommend asking for Godzilla because the reaction and result is well worth it. You also get a chance to take a picture with a maid while you — yes, you — sport ridiculous headwear like bunny ears and pink, fluffy crowns. Essentially a coffee shop, but loads more fun.

Evening

6 to 8 p.m.

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If the maid café didn’t meet your craziness quota for the day then a karaoke session at Pasela Resorts definitely will. Ideally placed on the main street of Showa dori, Pasela Resorts offers seven floors of themed karaoke booths. Some are themed around traditional Japan (think tatami and samurai swords) whereas others, especially the basement floor, have opted for rooms inspired by popular anime, idol and gaming franchises. So if you’ve ever fantasized about singing your heart out to “Fly Me To The Moon” inside an EVA — dream no more.

8:30 to 9:15 p.m.

#kikanboramen level hot! #spicyramen

A post shared by Steven Kim (@stevenchulkim) on

If all that karaoke excitement has made you hungry, you should check out the demonic Kikanbo Ramen for a flaming hot meal. A staff member will ask what you would like your kara (chilli heat) and shibi (pepper mix) to be on a scale of 1 (mild) to 5 (what the #$@&%*!). The demon masks on the wall and foreboding taiko music remind you to choose your spice level carefully. An absolute must for spicy-food and ramen lovers.

9:30 to 11 p.m.

Akihabara Drift

It wouldn’t be a visit to Electric Town without admiring the night views. Akihabara’s gloriously neon nightscape really comes alive after sun down, so make sure you have plenty of charge left at the end of the day. Return to the comfort of your Grids hotel and hostel at the end of the night to share your experiences in the lounge before heading to bed to get some rest until you do it all again tomorrow.

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