The secret shops of Akihabara

Hirose Entertainment Yard: The Best Arcade in Akiba

Despite the proliferation of arcades in Akihabara, there is only one place to find pro players. Hirose Entertainment Yard (HEY) is a multi-story arcade featuring every game that is played competitively or for bragging rights. If you want to battle with the best Street Fighter or Tekken players in Tokyo, you’ll find them at HEY. But while hardcore fighting game enthusiasts are regular visitors, the arcade is best known for its wide array of side-scrolling shooters. It’s a shmup fan’s paradise.

Above: A quick tour through just a few of the many arcade machines you’ll find at Hirose Entertainment Yard

Weapon Stores

In Japan, cash is king. Instead of using credit cards for larger purchases, most consumers still prefer to pay with cash. That’s why cash-laden shoppers in Akihabara made for such juicy targets when a new form of mugging called “Otakugari” (otaku hunting), came into fashion a few years ago. Soon the district’s domestic nerd population found themselves under siege. As the occurrence of otakugari rose, some denizens began to arm themselves with weapons for self defense. But given that guns are illegal in Japan and that swords are heavily regulated, many turned to nickel plated replica swords.

Above: Akihabara MAD, the place to go for real weapons 

In response to the rising demand for really cool looking weapons, several specialty weapon shops sprang up in the district. Akihabara MAD, is one of the few shops in Akihabara that sells both real and replica weapons. But recently, the police have begun to crack down on armed otaku. As such, rapier brandishing nerds are now a rarity.

Above: Replica swords on display at Akibanana 


  • grayguwapo - November 11, 2010 2:59 a.m.

    Awesome! I've been to Japan before but not in this area... If and when I do get to go back there, I'm making a trip to this heavenly place... Now, all I need is a lot of extra cash to go shopping there... Great article Ryan!
  • TommyG - November 25, 2009 8:08 p.m.

    Nice article. It should be the start of a series of similar pieces - I'd read em!
  • Stockholm - November 25, 2009 7:42 a.m.

    @Everyone Above Me None of you will set foot in Japan. Ever. Not even college boy up there. Wanna know why? Cuz' your mom ends up dying of Lyme disease three days before the trip and you spend the next 3 months crying instead. Most of you who where angered by my comment will likely die alone. This is how things are. Sorry if I offended any of you. How do I know this? Well you'll all just have to trust me. I'm the voice of reason (a.k.a. you're not going to Japan, it's just not realistic.)
  • nikrusty - November 24, 2009 8:26 a.m.

    wow really informative. Thanks GR :)
  • AnonymouZ - November 20, 2009 10:21 p.m.

    i agree with souleater... what happens if you WIN that rock/paper/scissors game oO?
  • rxb - November 20, 2009 1:18 p.m.

    I was lucky enough to go 6 years ago. It really is amazing. I spend ages walking around looking in every shop mostly because I couldnt read the shop signs. Also buildings have different shops on different floors. I kinda wish the maid cafes were around just to try one out. I went on my own so at least I wouldnt get blackmailed. One tip, stay away from the drinks vending machines they are bloody expensive.
  • deathrebellion - November 20, 2009 12:49 p.m.

    *sigh* i wish i cud visit Japan with shitloads of moolah :|
  • wrapdump - November 20, 2009 12:38 p.m.

    God I remember going to most of these places, and then feeling my knees buckling under all the crap I was carrying home on the train. Why do NES's still fetch more than Megadrives in Akihabara?! That call for a gamer's guide to Japanese is a good idea. I'll gladly help if anything like that happens.
  • Unoriginal - November 20, 2009 11:32 a.m.

    Sorry for double posting but: Amazing article Mr. Winterhalter (Kickass name BTW). You just increased my longing to go to Japan one day, and it was pretty substantial already.
  • Unoriginal - November 20, 2009 11:30 a.m.

    @Above Oh man, I am sooo going to Japan sometime!
  • Collymilad - November 20, 2009 9:43 a.m.

    "Fun Fact: The commenters who post things along the lines of "Oh man, I am sooo going to Japan sometime!" will likely NEVER end up going to Japan. The more you know!" I haven't commented before now, and I'm not saying I will go to Japan, but how do you know what people are going to do? It's not like it's THAT hard to go. Douche.
  • Samael - November 20, 2009 9:14 a.m.

    @Stockholm Yeah, except we are going to Japan. We're in the middle of setting it up. Don't make assumptions, you know what they make you. /endrant
  • Dameon Angell - November 20, 2009 7:25 a.m.

    This may be a odd sounding question, but do you guys have a desktop sized version of the picture you used for the news-bar to this article? I thought it was really interesting looking for a desktop picture. Thanks
  • Stockholm - November 20, 2009 5:54 a.m.

    Fun Fact: The commenters who post things along the lines of "Oh man, I am sooo going to Japan sometime!" will likely NEVER end up going to Japan. The more you know!
  • Samael - November 20, 2009 2:33 a.m.

    Going to Japan next year with my college anime club! It'll be simultaneously awesome and frighteneing. We already intend to visit Akihabara, so this was a great and informative read.
  • GameManiac - November 20, 2009 2:08 a.m.

    I think I just died and went to gamer's heaven after reading this article. [Cue angelic choir]
  • TheRussianConcussion - November 20, 2009 1:25 a.m.

    Wow! that was a really well put together and informative article. I thought you were going miss the video game themed bars. Thanks and keep up the good work.
  • defiance0fchaos - November 20, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    Janken is Rock paper scissors, you always start with paper...
  • souleater77 - November 20, 2009 12:19 a.m.

    what happens if you win one of those janken games? you were decidedly circuitous in that area...
  • JoeMasturbaby - November 19, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    this is probably the most fascinating article ive ever read on GR. i knew nothing about this, and its interesting to me. Maybe someday i'll visit.

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