Akihabara Shopping - Akihabara is famous for its electronics and hi tech shopping. Akihabara features the massive Yodobashi Camera store.
Akihabara is Tokyo's "Electric Town", which is focused around Akihabara Station. Akihabara built its reputation has a place to go in Tokyo for very technically advanced hobbist style parts and equipment sold from many small shops. Today those smaller shops only make up a small and demininshing part of Akihabara. The Akihabara of today caters much more to the main stream consumer and their desires for consumer electronics sold from larger stores.
Some of the smaller market style stores in Akihabara
Sunday afternoons, the main street is blocked to vehicle traffic and
the area takes on a different feel. This makes it easier to access many small vendors that offer products not seen in the major stores. Refer
to our Akihabara Map for the locations of the most of
the popular stores in Akihabara.
Note that products intended for the Japanese market may only use 110V electricity (most now have international power supplies, but check to make sure), have no international warranty, are labelled in Japanese and some will only have Japanese documentation. Head for the many duty-free shops to find export models, which are priced at a premium and the range will be very limited.
Duty Free Stores
Larger shops can arrange sales tax exemptions for purchases of over ¥10000, saving you 5%. Unlike most countries, in Japan the sales tax is refunded immediately, so there is no need to claim the sales tax back at the airport on departure. You will need to show your passport and you should clear your purchase through customs at the airport at departure time. The larger stores and some smaller shops take credit cards, but a transaction fee may be applied (usually 2%).
Most major items I found to be similar pricing to that in the USA or Australia, but exchange rate variations can make for short term discounts. Warranties are the other issue to consider, many brands do not have international warranties. The advantage of shopping in Japan for electrical or photographic items is the access to a range of products that are not released outside of Japan. These items may not have had their international release or may never be released. This also applies to many smaller items and accessories, but the internet has started to make some of these items more available outside of Japan.
Should I buy a camera in Japan or locally?
Potentially you may be able to buy a model a few weeks earlier in Japan or for a little less. It was difficult to make a comparison, but the difference didn't seem to that great. Part of the problem, particularly with digital SLR cameras is the lenses packages vary and even the name of the camera, for example, a Canon EOS 350D in Australia, a Rebel XT in USA and a KISS in Japan. Then there are many combinations of lenses that can be packaged with it.
I strongly recommend buying your camera before you travel unless you are already very familiar with the camera. You really need time to learn all the different aspects of the camera before you travel, other wise you will be in a situation where you want to take a difficult or unusual photo and the result may not be the best it could be. Even with many hours practice with the camera before I left for Japan, I was still caught out in one situation where I had to switch to automatic mode, thus missing a particular low light long range flash photo.
You can locate these stores on our Akihabara Map.
AKKY II Store
AKKY III Store
AKKY International Main Store
Don Quijote Akihabara
Ishimaru Denki Main Store Akihabara
Ishimaru Denki Soft
Kajitsu Duty Free Shop
LAOX Computer Building
LAOX Duty Free Akihabara
LAOX Mac Akihabara
LAOX Main Store
LAOX Watch and Camera Store
Onoden Main Store
Radio Centre Akihabara
Sofmap 4 Akihabara
Sofmap Kakuta Akihabara
Sofmap Mac Akihabara
Takarada Duty Free Main Shop
Takarada Duty Free Rocket number 1 Store
Tsukumo Robot Kingdom
Yamada Denki, LABI Akihabara PC Store
Yodobashi Camera Akihabara
Author: Craig Fryer