My interest in Japan grew when I first watched Princess Sarah, an anime series, way back in 2004 and ever since then I am hooked. As time went by, my interest in the entertainment industry, especially anime, grew exponentially to the point that I spent much of my day watching and re-watching, reading and re-reading Japanese dramas, anime, and comics.
Ask any anime lover which place they would want to visit once in Japan, and there is a greater chance that they would say ‘Akihabara’.
Akihabara is the hub of anime, manga, and anything related to them. However, with time and investment of mind, you would know that Akihabara is much more than Japanese pop culture.
In this article, I will enlighten you about 6 amazing facts about Akihabara which you might not know. So, without further ado, let us find out what lies behind one of the most popular places in Japan.
- It was once a Black market : It might come as a surprise to many, but Akihabara was not all that fancy back in the past. In fact, it was a thriving black market during World War II.
During World War II, there was a surge in the demand for radio and its parts. This led to the establishment and development of the black market in Akihabara which remained largely unregulated for a long time.
Today, everything here is strictly monitored, though you should not be surprised if you come across places which still keep the past alive.
- Akihabara Does Not Have All People in Cosplays : If you were asked to imagine Akihabara, you might imagine people dressed up in anime or game-inspired outfits. Well, that is one stereotype because Akihabara is just not about that. In fact, when you are here, you will see ordinary looking people going up and down the streets.
The reason is this: Akihabara is a famous Electric town in the country. The electronics are available in vast quantities and at reasonable rates. So, for many, Akihabara is just about getting good quality gadgets.
- Engage in Maid Cafes: Many people identify Akihabara with maid cafes—and well, they are quite spot on. Akihabara is home to many maid cafes, and if you want to spoil yourself in the presence of kawaii waitresses ready to serve you, then maid cafes are perfect for you.
While maid cafes are plenty in number here, it is not common to find butler cafes over here. You may find them anywhere else in Tokyo, but not easily in Akihabara. Maid cafes can be a weird experience for you—but it will be one of those which you would never forget!
- AKB48: If you know a little about J-pop, there is no way you must not have heard of AKB48. AKB48 is a sensational idol group of around 134 girls who have been named as the highest earning musical performers in the country.
Fun fact about AKB48 is that the very name of the group has its inspiration in Akihabara. The letters ‘AKB’ basically refer to Akihabara. It is in Akihabara that the group’s theatre called AKB48 Theatre is located.
- One of the Biggest Mass Killings In the country : Japan has become quite a peaceful country post-World War II, but there have been incidents which occurred intermittently and shocked the conscience of the people of the country. One such event happened in 2008—in Akihabara.
A lone attacker ran over his truck on pedestrians. Afterward, he alighted from the truck and started stabbing people indiscriminately. In the incident, about 4 people were killed and 8 people were injured.
One of the major outcomes of this incident was the suspension of hokousha tengoku which was a practice of closing Chuo-dori for vehicular traffic and allowing pedestrians to walk freely. The suspension remained until 2011.
- It Was Not Always Akihabara: Akihabara was not called Akihabara from the very beginning. It was only after a massive fire broke out in 1869 which wiped out much of the residential area which existed back then that the name emerged.
Fun fact: Akihabara is the shortened form of the word Akibagahara which means autumn leaf field which was modified into Akiba. Akiba, interestingly, is the name of a deity belonging to the fire-fighting shrine which was constructed post-the fire I just mentioned.
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