Akihabara, or Electric Town as it is rather magnificently known, is a labyrinthine cluster of shops and markets. It is the technological consumerist capital of Tokyo, which pretty much makes it the technological consumerist capital of the world. Wandering around its narrow streets and bustling market stalls the vibe is reminiscent of the Barras, the legendarily dodgy market in Glasgow's east end. The stallholders seem to embody much the same combination of enthusiastic enterpeneurship and flagrant criminality. The one slight difference being that instead of selling knocked-off cigarettes and Celtic sports socks, the tables are piled high with motherboards, processors, flatbed scanners and wireless mouses. (Mouses? Mice?) Not particularly my bag, but I know at least one chap who would have soiled his frilly delicates in excitement (note for our readers named Kenny Ritch - yes, you).
Amongst all the geekery were such diverse wonders as a shop that proudly had on display every single Transformers toy ever made (yeah, I lingered there), loads of shops selling fantastically cool video games (I got my first play on the new Zelda - pretty!), and of course about sixteen thousand vending machines crammed into every availble square inch of public space. Although I completely failed to spot any of the oft-discussed used-schoolgirls-pants vending machines. They pretty much seemed to just sell Coke. Maybe the Japanese aren't really as perverted as popular unexamined latent racism would have us believe. Although having said that, there was another shop that had three entire floors of schoolgirl porn anime CD-Roms. Or something. I wasn't really looking.