Special FeatureExploring Akihabara, Japan’s Electronic Market
They come from all over Japan to buy goods featuring iconic characters from animé, manga and video games. When a news flash says exclusive products will be selling for a limited time only, there they will be, lined up outside the store around dawn. When they hear a new video game will be launched, they cannot stay away—they have to come and try it out. Akihabara and pop culture go together, and the combination has a magical power over people.
Not everyone can have their short story, poem or essay published in a major magazine. Another option is to join a group of like-minded people and publish a magazine with them. Dojin-shi are magazines created by and for people whose hopes and interests are similar.
A number of dojin-shi explore and expand the manga and animé world. The big comic market (Komike) in Tokyo’s Ariake district sells them, as do quite a few stores in Akihabara. The artwork and storylines have not yet been picked up by regular magazines.
One major outlet, Toranoana, sells magazines by amateurs not yet able to get their work onto the regular retail market, spoofs on popular manga, homemade animé productions and game software. At Toranoana, a once-in-a-lifetime experience is waiting for you.
The store also provides space for amateur creators to meet among themselves and reach out to a wider audience. Dojin-shi: another dynamic part of Akihabara.
When SegaSaturn and PlayStation came on the market in 1994, they launched a new era in home video games. The game retail industry rode the wave and opened a number of big stores in Akihabara. Today there are about 10 such stores there, large and small. One big store, LaOX Asobit Game City, has a long line of customers waiting outside before the doors open for first-day sales of new game hardware, like Nintendo’s Wii. New software draws crowds, too.
“We give buyers a special memento that has a game connection. We stock around 1,000 game software titles, both Japanese and foreign-made. We also carry rare ones difficult to find elsewhere,” says a LaOX PR rep.
You can try out the latest products and games before they are released on the market. No wonder the store is always crowded.