Whether you’re looking for the best buys in computer hardware, software, books, and accessories, or audio and video equipment, a stroll through Akihabara reveals a tantalizing abundance of cutting-edge products. But where are the good stores to shop — especially if you don’t speak much (or any) Japanese?
The computers and hardware available in Akihabara stores are generally domestic models, with no English manuals. And the software selection, though abundant, is primarily Japanese-language programs that will run only on a Japanese operating system.
Although you cannot expect fluent English from the typical Akihabara salesperson, most can understand common English computer terms if you speak slowly and clearly (and, if possible, with Japanese accent: e.g., say “inkujetto purint:” rather than “inkjet printer”). To make sure you get exactly what you want, it is advisable to have specific.
Sofmap carries a rich variety of products, though mainly domestic models. If you become a Sofmap card member, you can purchase a low-cost extended 5-year warranty on the purchase of all new products and get a 1-year warranty on the purchase of a used PC and 3-month free replacement of defective products.
Before you make the trek to Akihabara, though, visit the Sofmap Virtual Store on the Internet. This is Japan’s first and largest online store for computer product information (in Japanese only). Available from Sofmap through the Internet are PCs, software, peripherals, and even computer furniture.
■ 1-10-5 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
■ sofmap.com (japanese version only)
AKKY II is a duty free shop that deals mainly in digital cameras, game consoles, TVs and other popular electronics goods. Computers sold here are equipped with English keyboards and English operating systems. The store also sells Japanese dolls, key chains, post cards and other items for souvenirs. More than half of the staff is non-Japanese and many speak fluent English.
■ 1-10-5 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Laox (Main Shop)
Laox is a home electronics chain with stores mainly in the Kanto area and twelve in Akihabara alone. This Hon-ten, literally, the main store, sells all the basic electronics including computer related items and digital cameras. Floors 4 through 8 work as a duty free shop with electronics for overseas use, cosmetics, perfumes, and gifts. The staff speaks English, Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
■ 1-2-9 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku;
■ www.laox.co.jp (In Japanese)
■ 10:00 〜 19:00
Onoden (Main Shop)
Onoden is a general home electronics store and is one of the oldest in Akihabara. They deal in all the basic electronics including digital cameras, computers, refrigerators and lightings. There is a duty free shop on the 5th floor. Both English and Chinese speaking staff are ready to help you.
■ 1-2-7 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku; phone 03-3253-3911
■ http://www.onoden.co.jp (In Japanese)
■ Mon-Sat 10:00am-8:00pm; Sun 9:40am-7:40pm; Holidays 10:00am-8.00pm
Duty Free Ishimaru
Duty Free Ishimaru spreads over five floors, and deals in all kinds of goods that are appealing to travelers. Some of the items available include digital cameras, computers, Japanese crafts, traditional Japanese music, electronics that can be used overseas and more. The third floor has a photo studio where you can take pictures with Japanese landscapes as the backdrop. The staff is fluent in English, Chinese and Korean, and can help you do the paperwork to get your taxes back.
■ 1-15-4 Soto-ｋanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
■ ishimaru.co.jp (In Japanese)
Takarada started business in 1976 and was one of the first electronics shops to target foreign travelers in Akihabara. The staff speaks English, Chinese and Korean. You will find digital cameras, camcorders, electric pots and other electronics and appliances that can be used overseas. They also sell new and second-hand computers. The basement floor is a 100 yen store that you might want to visit while at the shop.
Takarada Musen Denki (Main Shop)
■ 1-4-7 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku; phone 03-3253-0101
A hidden duty-free electronics shop in Akihabara carrying products exclusively selected for international tourists that just opened in Akihabara in September 2015. In the shop, they carry all kinds of exclusive electronics that are popular among international tourists such as cameras (one of their main draws), audio products, beauty devices and rice cookers. For many people, it is exhausting to walk around a big electronics shop with a huge selection looking for the product that they want, but, in this shop, there is no need to worry about that since they only carry products that are in high demand by international tourists. What‘s more, the prices that they offer are quite reasonable, so you can expect to purchase the newest models for low prices.
■ 3-10-3, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo
■ 10:00-19:00(Open every day)