Sunday, May 31, 2009

Akiba Guide Book

The Hiragana Times magazine (for those of you unfamiliar with it), is dedicated to teaching Japanese through dual-track English/Japanese articles. Each article has one paragraph in English followed by its Japanese equivalent. The paragraphs aren't always word-for-word identical since there's often information given in the Japanese version that's missing in the English paragraph. But, the articles are generally Japan-specific, and occasionally deal with anime and manga-related topics.

(Ad for the Akiba Guide Book, from the website, used for review purposes only.)

One such topic in the May, 2009 issue is the "Akiba Guide Book". Apparently, author and self-publisher Toshimichi Nozoe realized that there weren't any guide books to Akihabara in English, so he set out to interview tourists about what they wanted to see and the problems they were having in getting around, and then he compiled a list of "best-of" shops for various categories. He published this book himself as the "Akiba Guide Book". The book uses "moe" (cute and sexy) manga characters to lead you through the various kinds of shops and to illustrate the walking routes to selected shops from each category (not all shops are included in the book).

Of interest here is the section on maid cafes. The featured shop is @Home, which has several locations around Akihabara, both on Chuu-Ou Dori near Popopure, and across the street from the UDX building in the Donkioti Building (think Don Quixote). I'll tackle one of the @Home cafes next.

The paper copy of the guide can only be purchased from within Japan, but the online download is available for $10. There's no way a paper book can remain up to date with all of the new shops opening and going out of business, so it's best to treat this as a simple starting point for your travels. But, if you need a guide book to work from, this is one of the few (if not only) for Akihabara in English.

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