Stroll the streets of Electric Town at a time when computers and video games were just beginning to appear on the scene

With towering billboards covered in anime characters, rows of gacha toy dispensers and maids on the street in uniform, Akihabara is a must-visit destination for anyone with a love for anime, manga, video games…and weird and wonderful vending machines.

Today’s bustling otaku mecca wasn’t always like this, though, as the area was once a market city that grew to specialise in radio components. This gradually evolved to include stores selling all things electrical, from whitegoods to cassette players and CD Walkmans, earning it the nickname “Electric Town”.

Back in the ’80s, Electric Town really began to evolve into the tech-obsessed otaku haven it is today, as computers and video games began to appear on the scene, attracting tech-heads and consumers during Japan’s booming bubble era. It was a time when emerging technologies and competition between stores put Akihabara in the spotlight as the ideal destination for consumers, and now we get to take a glimpse into what life was really like there, thanks to a video posted online by Twitter user @kuroakaii.

Filmed in 1986, the video shows a simpler, less-in-your-face Akihabara than the one we know and love today. While some of the streets and stores are unrecognisable, there are a few familiar buildings waiting to be spotted, all washed over with a distinctive ’80s glean.

Travel back in time with a look at the clip below:

▼ Fast forward some 30-plus years, and here’s what the same area looks like now.

The video of Akihabara in the ’80s quickly went viral on Twitter, with over 35,000 likes, 13,000 retweets and comments like:

“Wow, it really was an “Electric Town” back then!”
“It’s so weird to see Akihabara without any maids or anime shops!”
“I remember going to Akihabara for the first time with my dad when it was like this – such fond memories.”
“Check out the Radio Kaikan building at 0:54 – it’s still in the same spot!”
“Those little covered alleyways still look the same today.”

“Ramen Isuzu at 1:15 – truly nostalgic, one of Akihabara’s most famous ramen shops back in the day.”
“Akihabara has seen so many changes – in the Showa period (1926-1989) there was a fruit and vegetable market in front of the station, then there was a basketball court, and now the UDX building.”

It’s true that Akihabara was once home to a large basketball court right outside the station up until 2004. And that’s not all that’s changed over the years, as the iconic Onoden neon sign brought people to tears when it was taken down in 2017.

With the Tokyo Olympics coming up, more and more buildings are popping up all over the city, which makes this video — and these photos of Akihabara then and now — even more of a treasure to cherish.

Source: Twitter/@kuroakaii via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Flickr/Junya Ogura (edited by SoraNews24)
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