Akihabara (秋葉原, Akihabara?), also known as Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街, Akihabara Denki Gai?), is a neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan. It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo Station. Its name is sometimes shortened to Akiba by locals. While there is an official locality named Akihabara nearby, part of Taito-ku, the area known to most people as Akihabara (including the railway station of the same name) is actually Soto-Kanda, a part of Chiyoda-ku.
Akihabara is best-known as one of the largest shopping areas on Earth for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street, with used items of all descriptions (software, hardware, and junk galore) to be found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3 chome. First hand parts for the do-it-yourself PC builder are readily available, with many places around for the hunter of the best price. Tools, electrical parts, wires, microsized cameras and more are to be found in the cramped (some might say dangerously so) passageways of Soto Kanda 1 chome (near the station). Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Laox or other speciality shops near the station. The locals, of course, know where to find better variety and prices, a little farther away.
Otaku culture in Akihabara is rather famous. Many people there have unique lifestyles, centered on technological enterprises and a love for Anime/Manga, that have made them outsiders in other sections of Japanese society. Otaku are afforded the chance to gather here and avoid alienation imposed by others who do not share their specific interests. The presence of such prolific "geeky" behavior has led to Akihabara being seen as a mecca of sorts for otaku, as well as to the term Akiba-kei.
Recently, with increased exposure of "otaku" culture in the Japanese media, new buildings, and the opening of another new railway line, Akiba has seen a boom in popularity and is a popular destination for many young people interested in its unique atmosphere.