Tokyo's "otaku" district gets tourism boost
Sunday 19 December 2010
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: email@example.com
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Are plastic planes the future of flight? Heathrow expansion reopens debate over aviation's effects on the environment
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 50 Best European beach breaks
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The most powerful passports in the world
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...