HOW-TO VIDEO #09: Visit Akihabara Electric Town

in conferences, Global Geek, Videos by Ian | 30 comments

Akihabara is a giant neighborhood of electronics stores in Tokyo, Japan. This weekend we explored the markets with Tokyo Hacker Space on the first leg of our Global Geek Tour.

The SEG Electronics Market in Shenzhen is definitely bigger, but Akihabara is a lot easier to get to. We can visit Japan with just a passport, but Americans need a $200 visa to visit SEG in China.

If you want to visit Akihabara on your own, this Akihabara Google Map layer will help you find everything. Add it to Google Maps on your phone before you go.

In April our tour continues with a visit to SEG Electronics Market in Shenzhen, China. Later in the Fall we’ll also visit Yongsan Electronics Market in Seoul, South Korea.

We would like to thank Tokyo Hacker Space, Tayken, Akiba from Freaklabs.org, Richard, and Jud for showing us around Akihabara. Be sure to check out the Tokyo Hacker Space in-depth tour of Akihabara too.

See our previous Akihabara tour photos and shopping scores:

A list of the shops we visited and links are below the fold.

Shops visited

  •  Akihabara Radio Center (the maze, located right outside the train station) – Too many shops here to list. This is a winding maze of small stands with electronic parts, tools, LED shops, etc.
  • Corner Store – We buy VFD tubes here. They also have solar panels, motors of all sizes, more (actual name unknown)
  •  Super Junk – Surface mount and through-hole electronic components.
  • Akiba LED, others – Reels of LEDs, LED strips, LED accessories. One of many LED stores in Akihabara.
  • Sengoku – All purpose electronic store with many types of flux, solder, soldering iron tips, breakout boards, test clips, etc.
  • Kyushu Jangara Ramen – The Akihabara location of this famous ramen shop is a great place to have lunch. We got the mix of chicken, pork, and beef stock.
  • Keisokuki Land – New and used test equipment.
  •  Super Potato – 3 floors of retro gaming. Arcade on the top floor, lower floors have old cartridges and consoles.
  • Rocket Radio – Ham radios, antennas, etc.
  • Akizukidenshi – Bags of parts and kits. Surface mount resistors, chips, etc. Tayken’s favorite shop.
  • Aitendo – LCD, TFT, OLED display store. Breakout boards for tiny display connectors. Some other odds and ends.
  • Nishikawa Parts – All types of screws, stand-offs, tools.
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Comments

  1. vimark says:

    Look at that. Free touch on the items.

  2. GinPB says:

    Nice, but only 13 minutes?.

  3. GinPB says:

    What about prices?, is cheaper that mouser for example?, and what about datasheets, for example with the LCDs I didn’t see any sheet with information, same for other components.

    • Ian says:

      Everything is more expensive than mouser. It’s corner store + Yen prices, nothing is cheap. No datasheets on the LCDs or most parts, similar to my local parts place. Some seem to have links on the website, and exotic parts and kits (like the VFD tubes we bought) do come with a xerox sheet.

      • Arup says:

        Did you bought just the VFD tubes?
        Sorry if you’ve mentioned the list in video. Today my broadband is down and dialup cant tolerate youtube.

      • Ian says:

        We didn’t buy too much stuff in the video, I did buy all the liquid flux that we used in the flux-off

    • Sjaak says:

      Aitendo provide them on their webshop. Only Japanese webpages though :)

    • tayken says:

      In Akizuki everything comes in a ziplock bag which contains a datasheet. Sometimes looks like a waste of paper but really helpful from time to time.

  4. Yoshi says:

    Hi guys,
    WHY YOU DIDN’T CALL ME!? :-)

  5. Sleepwalker says:

    Those LCD breakout boards look very handy, I could use on of those for my little Nokia display (as shown on DP some weeks back).

  6. Sleepwalker says:

    Also amazing how much ‘unique’ sort of stuff they had there, not often you see such a great range of enclosures for example. Great video Ian, I nearly didn’t watch it, but very glad I did, really interesting :)

  7. Thank you very much for the video, I’ve enjoyed it a lot!

    In what ways was the pin header on the Bus Pirate a mistake?

  8. Jay Wilkinson says:

    Wow! We need to build a US version of that place.

  9. Jay Wilkinson says:

    What are the bowls for in the middle of the parts?

  10. Chuckt says:

    Thank you for the video, Ian. I enjoyed it. I can almost cry that we don’t have anything like that here.

  11. Kenneth Benson says:

    How do you leave there with any money to get home?
    I don’t think I could pull my self away from the buffet of switches.

    • Ian says:

      To be honest, without a specific project in mind I don’t find many things I really *need* at the prices you pay in Akihabara. Also, I know we’re going to SEG in Shenzhen next month, and I’m trying to save up for big deals there :)

  12. Joshua Hull says:

    I’ve decided that I have to visit this place before I graduate college. Even if the parts are more expensive the experience alone would be worth it. I guess the first step is to learn a little Japanese.

  13. Craig says:

    The SOIC -> perf board sticker looks nice. Anyone know how to get them cheap?

  14. GinPB says:

    Can I buy an used oscilloscope in Japan and bring it to Europe without paying VAT?.

  15. inouetaichi says:

    Corner Store – We buy VFD tubes here. They also have solar panels, motors of all sizes, more (actual name unknown) is “Nichibei musen”

    http://nichibeimusendenki.com
    http://nichibeimusendenki.com/map.php

  16. Adam Schabtach says:

    Thanks a bunch for this post, the video, and the Google map. I went to Akihabara about two weeks ago and your introduction was tremendously helpful. Unfortunately Akiba LED was closed while I was there–but now I have an excuse to go back!

  17. Ian says:

    Thanks Adam. I’m glad it was useful. I thing your the first to try.

  18. Adam Schabtach says:

    I may be the first person to report back here, but I doubt I’m the first person to try it! When we were there, my significant other spotted at least five other non-Asian people who were quite possibly following your map. They, like myself, were wandering around with sheets of paper in their hands, looking at it and then peering at the mostly-Japanese signs on the store fronts. My guess is that they, like myself, were looking at hardcopy of your Google map.

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