Adam went to the Akihabara electronics market in Tokyo using the Global Geek Tour map and video. Visit his blog for a list of his buys. We asked him for his top tips for other hackers visiting Akihabara:
DP: What should people take to Akihabara?
Adam: Money! As you mentioned in the comments, stuff there isn’t cheap, generally speaking. On the other hand, I bought some proto boards mostly because they were much less expensive (and higher quality) than similar boards readily available in the US, so not everything is expensive.
Hardcopy of the DP Google Map, edited and annotated to mark the places you’re most interested in seeing. Just wandering around works also, but it’s helpful to have a couple of reference points. I’d actually been there once before but managed to miss most of the electronics shops altogether because I headed in the wrong direction.
A bag to carry stuff in, to reduce the number of bags you waste if you buy a lot of stuff.
Someone who reads and speaks both Japanese and English (or whatever you speak) could potentially be helpful also, but not strictly necessary.
Q&A continues below the fold.
DP: What are some things to know about Akihabara?
Adam: There is very little English on storefronts, packages, etc. I’ve visited Japan half a dozen times already so this wasn’t a surprise, but if you don’t read Japanese it can sometimes be a challenge to e.g. locate a specific store. I ended up just going into places to see whether they looked like the places in your video. :-)
Most stores open at 10:00AM, some later. I don’t know when Akiba LED opens, for example–I left before it opened.
How much time you’re likely to spend there depends on how much you like browsing through a somewhat overwhelming and eclectic collection of shops. You could easily spend a full day there or more if you wanted to go through all of the electronics shops, the anime fan shops, etc.
DP: What was your favorite find?
Adam: I didn’t buy much because I find it difficult to impulse-shop for electronics components. I don’t have the storage space to buy stuff that looks like it maybe might be useful someday. ;-) I bought a bunch of SMT breakout boards because they were high quality and inexpensive compared to what Mouser et al carry. There’s a snapshot of them on my blog here.
DP: Did you eat anywhere in Akihabara?
Adam: We had a snack at the Doutor coffee shop. Doutor is a chain of coffee shops in Japan which can be depended upon for a good cup of coffee or cocoa and a Westerner-friendly sandwich or similar snack.