028

Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan

gkat_028.pdf35° 41 54.38 N, 139° 46 19.99 E

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Electric Town

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the area around the Sobu main railway in the Kanda district of Tokyo became the center of a thriving black market in radios and radio equipment such as vacuum tubes. Akihabara’s position close to the docks where goods were flowing into Japan up the Kanda River, and to what is now Tokyo Denki University (where electrical manufacturing was being taught), made its back streets an ideal spot for trade in all types of electrical equipment.

Prior to the war, Akihabara was already a trading spot for many types of goods, but the explosion in demand for electronic gadgets made Akihabara what it is today: an enormous shopping area for everything from useless gizmos to the latest must-have electronics (see Figure 28-1). Akihabara’s shops range from enormous department stores on the main street, Chuo Dori Avenue, to backstreet stalls with secondhand goods and spare parts.

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Figure 28-1. Akihabara; courtesy of Michael D. Rubin

Goods available here include everything from the tiniest ...

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