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Japan Travel Tips – Traveling to Akihabara, Japan’s City for Gamers April 27, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Japan Travel Tips, Uncategorized.

Welcome back to another Tuesday for Japan Travel Tips. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, we share with you some of the best independently produced documentaries designed to help international tourists who wish to visit Japan. After surviving 2020, you can be sure I REALLY want to travel, and why not travel to a country that is the birthplace of some of my favorite games of all time? Today, that’s exactly what we will be talking about.

As a fan of Japan’s gaming industry, I have my own personal opinions on what makes up their best titles, characters, and companies. Sharing that information with you is not the point of this article. Instead, I’m going to spread the word on what’s kinds of retail experiences are available in this area, and share what you can do while visiting Akihabara. Unlike the US, who had a market crash in the early 80s, Japan’s gaming industry never really crashed and because of that still offers a wide range of games, from modern to classic titles.

First thing you’re going to want to do when visiting Akihabara is check out the stores. Before we take a closer look at the city, here’s an important how-to video made by Paulo from Tokyo. He gives a full layout of the city and points out the best stores for all the different things you might want to shop for.

If you want to see Paulo’s “When it Rains” video he mentioned in the tips video you can watch it here.

Now that we have the groundwork out of the way, pet’s take a walk through the electric city shall we? I’ll let YouTube Channel Strange Parts and John from Only in Japan take it from here.

Now, let’s be honest, everyone is going to have their own ideas about how to best tackle the city. Next up I want to highlight Abroad in Japan and let him share his best tips. He highlights some of the best stores in the city and gives his best advice on where you can get the best of whatever you’re looking for.

Keep in mind a few things if you plan on buying goods from Japan and bringing them back to a country like the US:

  • Save major shopping as one of the last stops on your trip, that way you can use it to spend the last of your travel money, and reduce the time you’ll spend carrying around everything you buy. Also, if you’re staying at something like a capsule hotel, you might be limited in how much luggage you can leave at the hotel.
  • Bring multiple methods of payment, but most vendors will take cash.
  • Go in there with at least an idea about things you want. Do you want a collectible? Know what series you should look out for. If you want a console or a game you can’t get elsewhere, look up box art online to help you identify it.
  • The US and Japan use the same standard definition broadcast method, NTSC. That means game consoles purchased in Japan will work on TVs in the US. Power standards between the US are slightly different (Japan uses 100v while the US uses 120v) so make sure whatever consoles you buy can function on either power. Typically this information will be written on the back of the console/player or on the console’s included power brick. If the device is not compatible with 120v and you want to use it anyway, you may need to buy a power “step down” converter after you return home.
  • While the broadcast standard between the US and Japan are identical, all professionally published DVDs will have a region lock, arbitrarily preventing them from being played in another region’s DVD player. The US uses DVD region 1 and Japan uses DVD region 2. (ED NOTE: More on this later)
  • Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games will play on any region’s handhelds and any region’s handhelds can play any region’s games without the need of an adapter. So, for example, if you buy a Game Boy in Japan it will play American games and Japan’s games will play on a US bought Game Boy. Battery types between the US and Japan are the same. That said:
  • DO NOT try to trade Pokémon between two different region’s Pokémon games, you could break something.
  • The DSi can play DS games from any region, but DSi specific games (retail and digital) are region locked.
  • For later handheld consoles like the PSP or 3DS, you will need to buy a Japanese PSP or 3DS if you intend to play Japanese games on those platforms.
  • If you intend to play Japanese games for platforms like PS1 or PS2 you will likely also need to buy a Japanese console to play it on. We recommend picking up a slim PS2 from Japan since it will play all Japanese region PS1 and PS2 games, as well as region 2 DVDs.
  • Laserdisc is NOT region locked and you can play Japanese laserdiscs on American laserdisc players.
  • CDs also play just fine in any region’s CD player, but be aware the price of a CD in Japan is 2-3 times as expensive as it used to be in the US.
  • If you’re buying a statue or some other kind of collectible you intend to bring home with you, make sure it’s packaged well so it won’t be damaged during your trip home.
  • Japan’s game consoles will work on televisions in the US (provided they are compatible with US power requirements), but they will not work on televisions from Europe.

Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the shops in the area, shall we?

Since you’ll likely be spending the whole day in this area, you’re likely going to need some food while you shop. Food in Japan is incredible and Akihabara has plenty of restaurants as well as other places to get food. Abroad in Japan’s video above did include a brief look at a great ramen place to eat. If you’d like a closer look at it, here’s his video on the shop.

I’ve also heard good things about a famous burger shop in the area. Here’s a look at the famous Quad Burger you can find at Henry’s Burger. The tourists refer to it as a Japanese Big Mac, but with burger patties of the highest quality.

Hope you enjoyed this look at a gamer’s paradise. If that burger made you hungry, stay tuned for next week, as we’ll be taking a closer look at more traditional food you’ll find in Japan!



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