Omiyage shopping in Akihabara

By on June 29, 2009

Photo © Elena Derevstova


It’s that time of the year when people pack up and head to the airport. But of course, headed back home for the summer means bringing back some good old-fashioned omiyage, or souvenirs from Japan. Not sure where to go? Fear not – Akihabara has it all.


Known as the Electronic Town, Akihabara is a great place for electronic lovers and gamers alike to spend countless hours browsing through endless aisles of gadgets. But this digital dream is not just about electronics! Behind some alley ways and on the highest floors of the tallest buildings hide some spectacular shops visitors would love.


Whether you are visiting Tokyo, want to hold on to the memory of living here, or simply want to bring home some gifts, the seventh floor of LAOX is a must see. It has more variety than three stores put together, allowing you to pick up everything you need and want. English-speaking staff are also ready on hand to help out, so you don’t have to worry about any language barriers.


There is something for every member of the family. Shelves are topped with a huge array of colorful Japanese souvenirs like traditional dish sets. Hundreds of key chains and cell phone ornaments dangle from walls and racks. Magnets cling to posts on every corner. Fluffy stuffed toys waiting to be played with line the walls, along with Hello Kitty paraphernalia.


Fans and wall hangings draw the eye to the ceiling and Japanese figurines stand full of life in their patterned kimonos. The kimonos are authentic and can be tried on. Toddlers and kids even have their selection of Japanese patterned shirts, as well as the grown ups.


But of course, Tokyo has its technology to boast. Make souvenirs of Tokyo X and bring back some nifty electronic gifts for friends and family. But of course, with the economy in its state, it’s difficult to just splurge on pricey gadgetry. And Japan being the mechanical powerhouse it is, second-hand stuff might as well be first. The SofMap Mac Can comes in handy here, offering a wide variety of used iPods (the latest models included) and other Mac-related goodies with wallet-friendlier price tags.


Then, there is the famed Japanese pop culture, appealing to foreign youth since the days of Dragonball and Pokemon yore. If you’ve got anime or manga-addicted relatives or friends you plan on seeing, then take a quick look around the town. There are odd little shops scattered around Akihabara that cater to the otaku crowd, offering all sorts of titles, with even some action figures and various related memorabilia. If you’re lucky, you can even find some manga books and anime DVDs translated to English.


So, before you make that dash to Narita, make Akihabara the town you visit.

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