Stateside, whenever I needed my electronic fix I would hop in my “always-two-quarts-short” Dodge … and take a drive to one of the Best Buy stores near me. Best Buy was my idea of the quintessential haven for gizmos, gidgets, gadgets, and all kinds of cool electronic stuff. After having lived here in Japan for a while, though, my concept of what a good electronics store is has truly changed.
Japan has this stigma for being home to just about every electronic device known to man. Is the stigma true? You know how rumors sometimes have no grounds whatsoever? Well, this isn’t one of those times. I think it’s totally true. Japan is a technological powerhouse.Seeing some of the futuristic inventions that Japan has creates is part of reason I think so: like that suit that makes human beings stronger or the invisibility suit prototype…I’m not kidding. But futuristic inventions aside, some of the Japanese electronic stores that I’ve seen, make some of the U.S. stores look like a small-time mom-and-pop shops. I’m not talking about store size, mind you. America has more space…period…so electronics store sizes are totally comparable. But it seems to me like the Japanese shops just have so much more stuff in them. If you’ve ever been to Yodobashi in Akihabara you know probably get my drift. These place are just loaded with stuff. If there’s ever been a time where I couldn’t find something, it’s been because I couldn’t come up with the Japanese to explain the device, not because it wasn’t there.
There are hundreds of electronics shops in Japan, and some are like your average electronics retailers (similar in size and floor layout) but juiced up on steroids. They can be be the large, open, warehouse-type shops devoted to all things electronic, or even the multi-story buildings with stacks and stacks of stuff.Being that I’m an Ibarakian (not a real word) the electronics retailer I generally frequent is K’s Denki, which is headquartered in Mito, Japan (the capital of Ibaraki). Don’t quote me on this one, but I am fairly certain that K’s Denki can be found all over Japan (at least all over Honshu, the main island of Japan). I’m not exactly sure about Okinawa and Hokkaido, though. I haven’t done as much traveling as I’d like to, but K’s has been in most of the places that I’ve been to in Japan. The first K’s Denki I ever visited was right here in Tsukuba. It was a mammoth, four-floored member of a vast store chain. Three floors were purely devoted to electronics and electronic devices. The fourth floor was something unrelated, so I never bothered checking it out. I can’t remember exactly what each floor had, but similar items were group together…the convenience you pretty much expect from any store worth its salt. Home electronics were grouped together, cell phones, appliances, electronic personal care items (hair-dryers, shavers and such).
That shop has since closed and re-opened in a new location in Tsukuba. The store’s layout is a little different now, though, it models the more-open, more-customer-friendly, warehouse-type of K’s now. None of the store offerings have changed, though…same great, good-quality products.
If you’re looking for a solid electronics shop with good customer service and professionally-run stores, and a helpful staff, you might want to drop by K’s Denki.
Do you have a favorite Japanese electronics shop?
*Two other very notable electronics shops that are also quite big (maybe even bigger than K’s) are Yamada Denki and Yodobashi. I know I’m missing a host of others, but these are my bread-and-butter electronics store choices. There others in the Tokyo area that have more specialized electronics, too. Go exploring, and you’ll be dazzled by the sheer scale of some of these places.
Without access to a decent train line, transportation can be a bit of a hassle in Japan. Of course if...