Tokyo's "otaku" district gets tourism boost

The Tokyo district of Akihabara has received a double boost as it tries to woo new visitors, both from its domestic market and from overseas, with the launch of an information centre designed to assist foreign visitors and the re-introduction of its "pedestrian paradise" scheme.

Tourism surveys consistently identify Akihabara as one of the "must-see" destinations for tourists to the Japanese capital. It is famous around the world for stores that sell the latest electronic gadgets and games, as well as shops that specialise in anime and manga items.

It is home to all the major discount electronics chains' stores as well as myriad smaller enterprises in the back streets.

The trouble for many foreign tourists, however, has been finding their way around.

On December 9, the Akihabara Tourism Promotion Association opened the Tourism Information Centre on the ground floor of the Sofmap Akiba Duty Free store to point visitors in the right directions.

Supported by the Japan National Tourism Office, the centre provides information in English, Chinese and Korean, conducts guided tours of the area and promotes shops and Japan's pop culture.

The Japanese government has identified pop culture - particularly anime and manga - as a key export earner and is keen to promote the phenomenon overseas.

The opening of the information centre coincides with the announcement that a popular shopping street through the district will become a pedestrianised zone on Sundays from mid-January.

First introduced in 1973, the "pedestrian paradise" scheme was hugely popular among local shop-owners, who made the most of the influx of visitors every weekend. Elsewhere, cafes set up tables and chairs on an 800-metre stretch of Chuo-dori, while musicians and street performers put on their acts.

That changed in June 2008, when a man suffering from depression went on a rampage through Akihabara, driving a light truck into crowds of shoppers and then stabbing people who tried to help the victims. Seven people were killed and a further 10 injured.

The police have been working with a local shop-owners' association and a city planning committee to improve security in the area, installing more than 30 closed-circuit surveillance cameras and starting security patrols, as well as drawing up regulations on street performances and illegal shops.

Akihabara Tourist Information Center

Location: Sofmap Akiba Duty Free, 1f, 3-13-12 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Further information: www.npo-akiba.com or e-mail: info@akihabara-tour.com

JR

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor