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Legendary Akihabara Radio Store closing its doors after six decades (japantimes.co.jp)
91 points by Sukotto on Nov 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

It seems the world's radio/electronics community was first in New York ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Row ), then Akihabara, and now in Shenzhen, where the details of electronics outlets that appear seem completely mindblowing. For example: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2009/a-visit-to-the-electron...

Shenzhen looks impressive. I haven't been there, but it looks similar to the Zhongguancun district in Beijing.


I find zhongguancun to be very monotonous compared to akihabara; most of the stores just sell the same junk. There are only a couple malls that specialize in lower level components. Still none of the crazy stuff I could easily fond in Tokyo.

I used to walk through that place every time I went to Akihabara. It reminded me of something out of Neuromancer with the tiny stalls and bins of weird high-tech (and low-tech) components, with the Japanese merchants and the chatter of all the foreign visitors.

But I have to admit, despite walking through those cramped corridors dozens of times, I never did actually buy anything there. I still go to Akihabara when I need something right now, but 9 times out of 10 I just buy it at the colossal 8-story Yodobashi Camera on the other side of the station (erected several years ago).

So it's not too surprising they can't make that cool little electronic component shantytown mall work anymore.

Ditto. I lived in Tokyo for 2 very formative teenage years in the late 90's. Akihabara always felt like a bit of a wonderland, but not one where I actually spent many of my limited funds. I'm sad to hear that mall is closing, as the atmosphere was truly one of a kind.

This is a bit of an exaggeration. The prices were pretty high and the people weren't all that knowledgeable. And there's another similar market right across the street that's twice as large.

yea, still it'll be sad to see it go. Most of the interesting parts are elsewhere in Akihabara however and I don't think we'll really be missing out on much. I hope a bunch of the markets will find homes elsewhere in Akihabara though.

The stores are mainly one-item things (one guy selling only lightbulbs, another selling only security cameras). But there are stores in the area that sell lighbulbs AND security cameras close by. Most of the stores in it have equivalent stores in the area anyways.

The one thing that I'd miss is the "antique" electronics on the second floor. There was a decent amount of interesting stuff seen up there.

I'm sorry to see any store there go. I used to spend at least a full day walking around Akihabara every time I went to Tokyo for work and always came home with plenty of stuff I didn't even know I wanted. I still have various "Engineer" brand tools, while not the absolute best they were relatively cheap and well made. I was mainly into building home audio here then and found aluminium cases that were good enough to put next to commercial equipment, a long way from the angular steel stuff I could find online. There were machined knobs, actual ALPS potentiometers, and in the audiophile stores crazy stuff like $1000 binding posts and tantalum resistors with gold-plated leads, nice to look at but I wasn't crazy. What made it great was not the amazing range of stuff or expert advice (language barrier...) but the Japan-ness of it all - maybe tiny, maybe outdated, but everything presented with pride. Of course you can get it all and more online but it isn't the same. Online you don't see lovingly restored TEAC reel-to-reel systems next to Kenwood FM tuners and SGI Indy boxes, all perfectly clean and ready to go. If I was in Tokyo today I'd head right for Akihabara, and maybe buy an extra suitcase to get it all home.

I remember going to Yodobashi Akiba and being confused. Then I went into the small shops, I couldn't read the names of the parts. Then I ate ramen and bought a toy train.

That's how I would have done it, too.

I found a similar thing happening in Yongsan - Seoul's electronics market. I visited recently after a 5-year absence and was saddened to see so many shuttered stores.

This is only one of three similar stores closing. The other two, Radio Center (http://www.radiocenter.jp/) and Tokyo Radio Depart[ment Store] (http://www.tokyoradiodepart.co.jp/), are still alive and kicking... although rather feebly, and it's a probably a matter of time until they go as well.

"The warren of small stores selling paraphernalia such as resistors, capacitors, LEDs and soldering irons became a symbol of Akihabara over the years."

... paraphernalia, allright. How does that journalist imagine he could write this article without any of them? :-D

Sad to hear, this was one of my favorite places in Akihabara. They have really good selection in tools and parts, I got some mini-XLR connectors and inductors. The first few guys I asked didn't have them, but they pointed me to the stall that did. They didn't speak English, so I wrote "18 uH" on my phone and they knew what I meant.

It's not like those parts would be hard to find online. But they had all that stuff in stock, in their tiny stalls.

I always thought it was what the places in Bladerunner where the people who made the snake scales were was based on. You would go along and be told that the man over there had that particular kind of resistor.

More like Taipei, I think ... which also has vast electronic doodad markets. Well worth a poke around, even if you don't have a use-case for a snake or an SCR the size of a beer can :-)

I've heard you can go across the street to some bigger stores.

If anybody's in Seoul, the Yongsan electronics market is similar and if you want to supersize it head to Shenzhen.

and even there (here:), most of the good stuff is outside of the plaza in the neighbouring streets, and underground stores. It's really fun, though.

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