Tokyo’s Akihabara district has come a long way from its days as a place to pick up handmade radios and their components in the post-war period. There are actually still options for such do-it-yourself approaches if you look carefully, but unsurprisingly they are nowhere near as numerous as they once were. In fact the area’s later transition to more general Electric Town, where one could buy all kinds of electronic goods along with their associated products, has in many ways now been usurped by anime, manga and maid cafes.
Below then are some remnants of that earlier past, as well as a couple of those few remaining component shops that have closed in the last couple of years.
Dream video and book shop in the first photo isn’t so far from the station, and yet despite being closed for what seems like a considerable amount of time, the awning still looks lovely. The two tiny shops I’ve shown on these pages before, but I always feel they are worth looking at again. In fact now more than ever, as neither of them exist anymore. And the last photo — which actually prompted the post — in many ways sums up the changes the area has seen. An old, former electronic parts outlet (there’s a photo of it here in 1952), that has a modern car park on one side and a rather fancy katsu vending machine inside. Although in a nice twist that in some ways brings the whole thing full circle, the food and machine are supplied by Mansei, a company that was founded in Akihabara way back in 1949.
I would like to have visited those small stores. The owners looked happy and content with life.
Yes, they really did. I do miss seeing them. That little area isn’t the same anymore.
I can’t get enough of photo #2. She is just so adorable! 🙂
She most definitely was.
Our first visit to Tokyo included a walk around some of the old component stalls, and since then it’s always been on the list to revisit with more time. But now that’s slipped away. So nice to see those smiling faces again. Happy in the centre of their small worlds of small things.
The last photograph recalls this one – https://www.tokyotimes.org/tokyo-tenderness-and-decay/ – another sub-collection for your portfolio perhaps.
It’s great that you add information and detail in some of your posts – they add further to the always excellent photographs. I especially like the bit about the vending machine manufacturer and the link to the site with older photographs.
There are still a few interesting stalls and shops round there, but sadly none to quite match those two.
Ah, yes. Good call. Definite similarities there. I hadn’t picked up on that.
Thanks. Glad those extra details are worthwhile. Sometimes a tricky choice about what, and how much to add. The old photo of the shop absolutely fascinated me, so there was no question about that. Had to include it.
I agree that the two owners looked very happy.
My wife and I bought a Nikon SLR camera at Akihabara in 1972….for about half of what we would have paid in the USA. We used that camera for many years.
Yes, absolutely no question about that.
Don’t think you’d get much in the way of bargains there anymore. Quite the different place from back then.
Ah, one of my favorites too – the Radio Garden underneath the train tracks! I too was saddened to see it was gone when I arrived last summer. In 2018 there were still small boxes of vacuum tubes and other components dutifully laid beneath the awnings. Sad to see, but at least the exterior still remains – wonder how long it will last as the abode of vending machines. Do you have any idea how long ago the shop closed or insider info on with the property ownership? Appreciate the 1950’s link!
That’s a good question. The fact it hasn’t been turned into a car park already suggests it may last a good while yet. Hope so anyway.
Nah, afraid not. Would be interesting to know who owns it though. And you are welcome. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that photo.