“I saw this place every time I went to Akihabara, and it was like an old friend.”

For a part of Tokyo that’s focused on the latest and greatest gadgets, games, and animation, there’s been a remarkable amount of consistency to Akihabara’s urban landscape over the years. Maybe it’s a sign of otaku not caring about how old a building is as long as it’s packed from top to bottom with cool stuff, but when anime/game fans hit Akiba for shopping, they’re often finding their treasures in structures that are older than the fans themselves.

But even in Akihabara nothing lasts forever, and a local landmark that greeted visitors only a few steps from Akihabara Station has announced that it’ll be shutting down. The Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae branch, located just outside the station’s Denki Machi (“Electric Town”) gate will be calling it quits before we flip the calendar over to September.

▼ Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae

The building’s design, with four glass-enclosed elevators carrying customers to the store’s upper levels, was a unique way to see and be seen in Akihabara, and an example of the stuffed-to-the-gills design of the neighborhood’s shops. While primarily focused on PCs and computer parts and peripherals, Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae also sells smartphones and dedicates its basement level to cosmetics and sundries, which foreign tourists can purchase tax-free.

The sudden closure, part of a reorganization of electronics retailer and Tsukumo parent company Yamada Denki, took Akihabara regulars and those enchanted by the neighborhood by surprise, prompting crestfallen comments such as:

“So sad to see one of the famous shops of Akihabara closing.”
“I know e-commerce is getting bigger all the time, but I still think it’s a shame to see so many physical stores disappearing.”
“It’s like what happened with audio specialty stores. Now the PC ones are going belly up.”
“I remember seeing ads for [this building] on local TV back in the mid-‘90s.”
“Ah no way! I still haven’t gotten a chance to go here!”
“Akihabara is a harsh battleground.”
“I saw this place every time I went to Akihabara, and it was like an old friend. Otsukare-sama, and farewell.”

As mentioned by one commenter, the building itself has been around for decades. At one point the primary tenant was Sato Musen, musen literally meaning “wireless” and now an outdated term for “radio.” Eventually Yamada Denki moved in, and for a while it operated a branch of its Labi general electronics retailer sub-brand in the building, changing it over to Tsukumo at the start of the year.

“Thank you for the support you have shown us. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts,” says Tsukumo in its closure announcement, which does not go into details about the specific reasons for closing the store. The chain does have three other branches within the Akihabara district, all of which will remain in operation.

It’s currently unknown what will become of the building itself. While it’s in a prime location, whatever business chooses to claim it next could very well decide it’s better to just knock the structure down and build a new one. So if you’re looking to take some commemorative photos or ride the escalators for yourself, you’ll want to head over before August 30, Tsukumo Akihabara Ekimae’s last day, which will also be the final chance to visit one other Akihabara icon that’s closing down.

Shop information
Tsukumo (Akihabara Ekimae branch) / ツクモ(秋葉原駅前店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Soto Kanda 1-15-8
東京都千代田区外神田1-15-8
Website

Source: Tsukumo via IT Media
Featured image: Twitter/@99_AKIBAEKIMAE
Top image: Tsukumo
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