Behind the bright lights and glamour of the main streets of Akihabara are a large number of tiny shops that sell specialty “junk.” These stores usually focus on one type of item, but many have a thrift-store feel where they offer various random “junk.” Even if you aren’t one of those people who build or repair things, it’s amusing to wade through the Japanese kitsch to see entire stores dedicated to electrical wires or retro electronics or strange little key chain devices that you now suddenly can’t do without. One of my favorite stores was the light bulb shop (near the AKB48 café) that specialized in every kind of light bulb you can imagine.
In this row of junkyard shops, you can also buy used phones and laptops. So if you’re visiting Tokyo and something happens to your phone, a cheaper alternative might be to just visit Akihabara’s back streets and get a used iPhone (stores had a used iPhone 5 16gb priced at ¥17,800).
If you’re the kind of person that builds your own electronics, Akihabara’s back streets are heavenly. Here you can purchase inexpensive electric and electronic parts in order to repair your older items or to bring your mad-science projects to life. While one store might focus on electric parts, another might focus on light bulbs or radios. In addition to the electronic parts, the stores here seem to focus on various niche markets. I even found a store selling used Nintendo DS for ¥1000! I wonder if it works…and if it doesn’t maybe I can fix it with some of the parts I can buy here!
Finding the back streets is not difficult. Simply follow a side street from the main road (Chuo Dori, away from the JR station) and follow the people into the alleys and between the buildings. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you feel like you’re in a flea market.
Location: Akihabara. Take the Electric Town exit from the Akihabara JR station (either side). Cross the Chou Dori and go back a street or two.
Hours: Various. All stores are usually open by noon.
“Why Go?”: Replace your broken phone with a cheap substitute, buy some electronic parts, and discover weird little devices for yourself or to give as a gift.