Tokyo Hackerspace has recently released these videos of a tour of Akihabara in Tokyo and they have done a viral tour of some of the major hacker blogs like Make and Hackaday. If you have not already seen them then they are worth the time watching as Akiba of Freaklabs gives a great tour of this part of Tokyo which is brimming with stores that sell tools, electronic components and everything else for the hobbyist, maker, hacker and engineer.
The full collection of 24 videos are on the Tokyo Hackerspace website. The video recording was made in HD so if you have a good bandwidth connection try the 1080 HD version on full screen. Here are a couple of the videos that I found particularly interesting. First an amateur radio store called ‘Rocket Radio’
This next video shows a collection of indoor stalls that sell a wide variety of hobbyist items. The location reminded me of a British indoor market, but instead of clothes and food here you can buy radios and enclosures. A collection of ‘candy stores’ for hobbyists.
I had heard of Akihabara but was stunned watching these videos how many stores there are. I am sure it is unique in the density of electronics and construction retailers. I would be interested to hear from anyone if they know of a collection of electronic component stores similar to this elsewhere, particularly in North America. No doubt there were smaller collections of shops like this after World War II when the surplus gear hit the high street. I know in London, UK, Tottenham Court Road had a concentration of such stores and I remember my father taking the family there when we visited London in the 70′s when I was a kid. I believe that Shudehill in Manchester, UK, also had electronic component stores around that time (again I recall a visit with my father) but they had all gone except for a TV and Radio store in the 80′s when I was a student there.