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Different facets of Transformed Tokyo’s Akihabara District

August 9, 2014 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

Akihabara Electric Town, with its endless variety of electric appliances and its colorful anime signboards, has become the unique and dynamic business center that is a must-see stop for every visitor in Tokyo.

The area has come a long way from its previous incarnation as a street market under the elevated railway tracks mainly selling radio parts. These days, tourists and visitors alternately know Akihabara as the world-renowned Electric Town, the center and source of Otaku culture and the home base of the Japanese idol girl group AKB48. However, most visitors are not yet familiar with Akihabara’s “handicraft street”, which seeks to create new value from the area’s traditional culture.

Above: 2k540; Lower left: Leather shop (b3Labo) inside 2k540; Lower right: CAFE&Japanese liquor (N3331) inside mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI
Lower left: Leather shop (b3Labo) inside 2k540; Lower right: CAFE&Japanese liquor (N3331) inside mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI

The handicraft market “2k540” born under the elevated railway tracks

“2k540″ is located underthe elevated railway tracks between the JR Akihabara and Okachimachi stations, about a 6-minute walk from the Akihabara station. The name”2k540” originates from Japanese railway terminology designating the area and stands for the distance from Tokyo Station.

The district has a long history of handicraft making, having been well known as a burgeoning center for craftsmen and artisan culture since the Edo period (1603-1867). It is now home to many handicraft artisans producing leather products and jewelry. Officially known as “2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN”, you can experience a new Akihabara that combines tradition and novelty.

“2k540” provides a feel of the good old ages of Akihabara, encompassing close to 50 workshops and craft shops that provide accessories, leather, clothing, stationery, and household products. Various art exhibitions and interactive events are held every month including handmade workshops instructed by craftsmen. Visitors make new and different discoveries each time they return.

“mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI” —  modern shops are lined up along the red-brick viaduct

On one side of Kanda river is the bustling Akihabara district and on the other, the “mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI” with its red-brick viaduct and the continuous line of archway doors stretching out along the river. Visitors can not only stroll through the uniquely designed shops in the “retro” viaduct, but also take a break with a cup of coffee in the cafe as they watch the trains speeding by through the glass windows. The power of both integration and creativity enables “mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI” to become an exquisite “retro” venue, which were fully renovated to deliver its rich appearance.

Similar to “Haji Lane” in Singapore and “Tianzifang” in Shanghai, “2k540” and “mAAch ecute KANDA MANSEIBASHI” are Tokyo landmarks. Tourists visiting Tokyo will not want to miss the newly transformed Akihabara.

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