Even before WW2, Akihabara was a popular center for electrical goods. The moniker “Electric Town,” however, is a legacy of the early postwar black market in electrical products, especially radio parts. It was Japan’s rapid economic growth in the four decades following the war that transformed the district into the largest center for electrical goods in Japan.
Over the years, the district followed the trends in electrical products from household appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners), through TVs, computers, and specialty products (watches, calculators), to electric toys and games. In recent decades there has been an increasing number of stores selling products for anime and video game enthusiasts. This, in turn, has led to a transformation of Akihabara into a mecca for devotees of otaku (geek) culture including gamester, idol, and maid subcultures.
Walking the streets of Akihabara you will encounter famous manga and anime characters; young girls in kawaii (cutie) costumes; and maid and idol cafes interspersed among the stores selling electrical goods.