Akihabara in 2007


Akihabara at night

Akihabara (秋葉原?) ("Field of Autumn Leaves"), also known as Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街 Akihabara Denki Gai?), is an area of Tokyo, Japan. It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo Station. Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ?) in Japan. While there is an official locality named Akihabara nearby, part of Taitō-ku, the area known to most people as Akihabara (including the railway station of the same name) is actually Soto-Kanda, a part of Chiyoda-ku.

Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street, Chūōdōri, with many kinds of used items found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3-chōme. First-hand parts for PC-building are readily available from a variety of stores. Tools, electrical parts, wires, microsized cameras and similar items are found in the cramped passageways of Soto Kanda 1-chōme (near the station). Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Laox or other speciality shops near the station, though there is more variety and lower prices at locales a little further away. Akihabara gained some fame through being home to one of the first stores devoted to personal robots and robotics.


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Buildings in Akihabara

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Between stores in Akihabara

  • The area was just out of Sujikai-gomon city gate (present Mansei bridge) which was one of the city gates (Mitsuke) of old Edo (Tokyo). It was the gateway from inner Edo to northern and northwestern Japan and Kan’ei-ji temple in Ueno. Many dealers, craftsmen and relatively lower class samurai lived there.
  • 1869: A major blaze destroyed the area. It brought about the decision to clear the 30,000 square metres of land in order to keep future fires from getting into inner Tokyo city.
  • 1870: In this cleared land a small Shinto shrine once in old Edo Castle was built. The shrine's name was 鎮火社, which means "the extinguisher shrine").

But many downtown Tokyo residents misunderstood the shrine. They thought that the deity Akiba or Akiha (秋葉) which was the most popular fire-controlling deity in central and eastern Japan must have been enshrined in it. They also called the cleared land "Akiba ga hara" or "Akibappara" which means "the deity Akiba's square".

  • 1888: The shrine moved to Matsugaya, near Asakusa.
  • 1890: Extension of the rail line (now the Tōhoku Main Line) from Ueno to Akihabara. At first there was no passenger service, for south of the station was the Akihabara cargo docks, where goods from all over the world would flow into Kanda by river and be hauled up the east bank of the canal to be ticketed at the central cargo transport window.
  • From the Meiji to the Shōwa period, as the electric railway improved transport to Akihabara and the surrounds, and especially due to the growth in dealerships, the district was designated as Seika Shijō (青果市場: vegetables and fruits market).
  • 1925: Akihabara-Tokyo station connection opened as the Tohoku line extended to Tokyo.
  • 1930: The temporary Manseibashi Subway Station opens; it is closed in November 1931.
  • 1935: Official establishment of Seika Shijō. (Kanda Seika Shijō).
  • 1936: The site of Manseibashi Station was closed (later the Transportation Museum—now closed). Railway mania had reached its zenith. The area became the number one place for electrical supplies.
  • Circa 1945-1955 After World War II, a black market at Kanda developed around the first school of electrical manufacturing (now the Tokyo Denki University:東京電機大学). Clustered around the Sobu Main line, what began as a host of electrical stores selling vacuum tubes, radio goods and electrical items to the students, has today come to be known as Electric Town. Called "musen" or "wireless" shops, they were the first to begin selling radios. With the advent of wireless and radio goods, people came to be much more connected.
  • 1960s: Thanks to advanced technology, the rival Nipponbashi district of Osaka took its position as an equally prominent Electric Town, selling vast volumes of household consumer durable goods such as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines.
  • 1980s: Accompanying the spread of the personal computer in family homes ("Famikon"), local shops increasingly began to deal in computer games, and major gaming chain stores appeared on the market.
  • 1989: Kanda Seika Shijō moved to Ōta-ku, south district of Tokyo.
  • 1990s: With the Yamada and Kojima household chain stores appearing throughout the suburban outskirts of Tokyo, the sale of consumer durables at Akihabara was greatly reduced, however the sale of computer goods increased in equal measure.
  • 1991:Sofmap begins its rise as a major seller of new and used Japan-market computer parts and software, including popular systems from NEC (PC-8801 and 9801), Sharp (X68000) and Fujitsu (FM-Towns). Sofmap chain stores begin popping up in different locations in Akihabara.
  • 1994: The Windows PC boom and accompanying computer store growth began.
  • It was also during the 1990s that the anime craze grew out of computer games, and the youth group known as otaku began to pour into Akihabara.
  • Since 2000, with name-brand computer sales in decline, anime shops have arisen in their place, selling to the otaku crowd.
  • August 25, 2005: Tsukuba Express, Tokyo's fastest private railway, opens in Akihabara.
  • Since 2005 Major redevelopment and modernization of the station and surrounding area.
  • June 8, 2008: The Akihabara massacre took place on the Sunday-pedestrian-zoned Chūōdōri street. A man killed seven in an attack on a crowd using a truck and a dagger.[1][2][3]

Police station

Manseibashi Police Station (万世橋警察署 Manseibashi Keisatsusho?)[4] is a station of Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. The station takes its name from the nearby bridge, Manseibashi. The area north of the bridge is Akihabara Electric Town".

The station is located slightly east of the Mansei bridge (Script error: No such module "Coordinates".

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), on the Akihabara side of the Kanda River.[5] In addition to the police station, the building houses other government offices.

The station began as a substation of Kanda Police Station in April 1905. It was disbanded a year later, but re-established in various forms until June 1927, when it was established as the Kanda Manseibashi Police Station. It moved back in with the Kanda station after the station was destroyed in the World War II fire-bombing of Tokyo. In November 1948 the station was re-established under its present name, Manseibashi Police Station.

See also

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  1. At least 6 dead in Tokyo stabbing spree Retrieved June 8, 2008
  2. Man stabs shoppers in Tokyo street Retrieved June 8, 2008
  3. NHKニュース 秋葉原通り魔事件 死者6人に "NHK News Akihabara Passerby Incident Death Toll to Six" Retrieved June 8, 2008
  4. 万世橋警察署 :警視庁
  5. "Summary of Manseibashi Police Station" (in Japanese). Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 

Further reading

External links

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Template:Neighborhoods of Tokyo Template:Shopping districts and streets in Japan

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