Akihabara – shopping at tech Nirvana? or bust? part 1
I recently went to Japan and went shopping in Akihabara. After doing extensive reading about it and tooling around the web for ages I felt pretty confident about the visit but my Friend in Japan, Caroline, had some words of wisdom which I ignored at my peril.
The first shop we went to as we came out of the station was the giant Yodobashi Camera. This is a famous chain of tech shops and is truley a giant. 8+ floors of tech shopping and a restaurant as well as some other floors even higher – I never got there. There’s a giant TV screen blasting out sound at you as you wait to cross the traffic lights from the station. There must be no noise laws in Japan because this screen was screaming at us.
The entrance hall for want of a better expression is a place of carnage. It’s almost like a busy market place in India or somewhere with staff shouting at you hocking their wares. Interestingly this first floor is the only place it happens as the other specialist floors are quiet, normal shopping places albeit packed with goods. I call them specialist floors because the ground floor is a mix of phones, laptops, cameras, etc but after that each floor is specialist i.e. second floor laptops, third floor computers, fourth floor cameras, etc.
When you catch the lift up you can read the signs and work out where you are going but the escalators are so covered in ad’s it was hard for me to work out what floor I was on and it gave me to comfort to hear the roar of voices getting closer as I knew I was almost at the ground floor and freedom.
You could seriously get lost shopping in Yodobashi for days. You can get a discount card which gives you points for items you buy on each floor and these cards are great (you can get them as a tourist) because on the price tag of each item is a point amount and at the end you can cash them in for purchase so you get stuff free (or it’s like an extra discount on purchases). You could basically buy a digital SLR and get the acc’s for free.
The ground floor had enough laptops to fill a normal shop back home here or say in America. And then I went to the laptop floor. Wow. Laptops as far as the eye could see. dozens of every model, of every brand. I think for some brands it felt like we get 2-3 varients and in Japan they have 20, plus all the other models we never get to see. Same for cameras and phones.