Akibaoo/ An electronics store with an anime surprise
Akibaoo is an interesting place.
When I first walked up to the store, it was 10am, and I wasn’t quite sure when they opened. I asked (in Japanese) a worker setting up outside what time the store opened. He, very curtly, told me 11am and walked away after shooting me a dirty look. Not a great start to the experience. But, when I came back at 11am, the same worker was polite and all smiles… Maybe he wasn’t on the clock before, so he didn’t feel he had to be nice? Either way, that story characterizes Akibaoo pretty well – confusion.
When you walk into the store, there’s a staircase on your left and racks mostly filled with portable storage(think CDs and CD cases), along with wires and electrical parts. But there is also a shelf with an egg cooker, among other consumer appliances, so I’m not really sure what the theme was supposed to be. The main register is also on this floor, and there was already a line on a Tuesday at 11:15am.
The second floor is even smaller than the first floor. When you enter the room, a bored looking employee sits behind a counter to the left, watching videos on the computer. Here, the shelves are filled just as randomly as the first floor, consisting of a mix of vacuums, tablets, and headphones, some of which were very expensive. The headphones were in sharp contrast to the vacuums, some of which had boxes that had clearly been around the block. Again, I struggled to figure what types of products this floor was supposed to sell.
But alas, there was a third floor. When you approach the stairs to the third floor, you’re greeting by a multitude of warning signs, all telling you that the electronics part of the store is behind you, and that where you are about to go has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the shop.
I continued up the stairs.
When I reached the landing, I could clearly tell that the top floor was an anime and manga section. When you turn into the room, it’s filled with anime paraphernalia, from CDs and movies to blankets and stickers. However, it was really on the small side for an anime shop in Akihabara, so I’m not certain how much business this part of the store does. You could go any number of other shops in Akihabara with much bigger selections of anime goods, all just a short walk away from Akibaoo. Again, this store has me feeling confused. But, lest I leave the third floor without feeling sufficiently scarred, our friend Ronald McDonald is there to greet us on the way out:
So yeah, Akibaoo is confusing. It clearly has a dedicated base of customers, but I’m not sure what’s on offer besides diversity. Akibaoo also has a second store located down the side street across from the Family Mart, where it sells similar goods in a smaller setting.
To get to Akibaoo, take the Electric Town exit at the train station, and leave towards the direction that will take you near the Beck’s Coffee and AKB48 Cafe. Immediately after exiting this way, take a left down the street with the “Wifi Cylinders” towards the Sega building. Cross the street at the light, and make a right. Walk two blocks, until you hit the Sumitomo Fudosan Akihabara Building, and then make a left. When get to the Family Mart, make a right down that side street, and Akibaoo will be on your left.
■Hours: 11:00〜20:00 on weekdays, 10:30~19:30 on weekends and holidays
■Address: 1-8-10 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
■URL: http://www.akibaoo.co.jp(in Japanese)