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Akihabara Shops and Goodies

by Sigi Rindler

This month's review of Akihabara shops and goodies started when the new year was just 6 days old. Since I had nothing else to do I thought it was a good time to get informed after 3 months or so....

Well, things have changed quite a bit.

The goods in the new Laox Duty Free Shop (30m opposite the Akihabara Department Store) have greatly increased. Good, huge, and sturdy looking suitcases can be had for ¥9,000 to ¥15,000. I remember the days when a small one cost you from ¥20,000 up.

They have a collection of very attractive ladies’ watches — actually "7 in one" — the outer ring around the glass can be unscrewed and exchanged with another one. My wife thinks that I have put my hand deep in my pocket (¥2,900... Haaa!). This way I didn't have to explain why I had to ask her for a "refill" of my wallet the day after. A good and inexpensive present at the right moment can yield a lot... See the watches yourself, they are unique.

As usual, the first shop to check out is STEP beyond Mansei Bridge. Had a look at the STEP Software Jungle (beside the STEP Mac shop). That's the place that sold the original WIN95 (full version) for ¥1,000 (yes, your eyes are OK). This wonder occurred one week before the Japanese version was put on the shelves. The bargains are over, and the whole store is stocked with Japanese software. The attraction has gone for the time being....

Next, out of here, cross the street, and straight into STEP's PC outlet. It was kind of busy just 10 minutes after the shop opened at 11:00 am. Soon I found out why (I think). They were selling old but brand-new Compaq Prolinea computers w/o monitor.

Prolinea 4/33S: 486/33MHz, 4MB RAM, 200MB HD, 2X CD-ROM, loaded with Japanese DOS and WIN for ¥39,800.

There were another two machines that had the same specs. in the opposite corner and had big price tags on them that said "¥25,000"!!! I asked one of the salesmen, but they know virtually NOTHING. Don't buy anything if you can't figure it out yourself.


Go window-shopping to established stores and get your info on specs, etc. After that buy at STEP or wherever it's cheaper. The info on the boxes or the price tags are often insufficient or you don't understand this Japanese/English high-tech babble. I'd ask the guy to open the box and look in the manual, otherwise I wouldn't buy. Once they have got your money, you can jump in the lake if something goes wrong.

Next stop was JC-World. It's not my favorite hangout because of their prices, but that's where I saw an ICM 17" multi sync monitor with a dot pitch of 0.26mm. Can be used for DOS/V, PC-98, and Macintosh. Price: ¥49,800!!! Well, I haven't seen how it looks when the monitor is unpacked and plugged in....

Another thing I found interesting. They had an external USR Sportster 28,800 for ¥26,800. That's close to 1 Yen per baud. Anyway, the box had all Japanese printed on it and the name "INTEGRAN" had been added. Furthermore, this modem was made for 100V as opposed to 117V in the USA. It was the first time that I saw an exclusively US-made modem for the Japanese market. The Sportster 14,400 might have been the first one, but I never saw it.

Since it was noontime, I walked down to Lahoru, the Indian curry shop to have their "very hot" curry. Now, that was a "mistake"! I didn't have enough paper tissues with me to wipe my top and forehead, and my running nose.... The waitress was filling up my glass one after each other. After finishing I didn't know whether I ate curry, hot chocolate, or hot mud!

Next was Spunky, which is now called ATTLA. They still carry the same stuff, but the good prices were missing. Maybe I didn't arrive at their "discount hour". Spunky did it in the past.

My mouth and lips were still burning from the lunch, and I decided to close the day by having a look at A-Master, which is close to the Aum Shinrikyo shop (Maha Posha)... the chanting maniacs have disappeared, and the shop has gone too. Surprise? I don't think so.

A-Master had a P133 from Hitachi on sale for about ¥280,000 (FLORA). Also on display were Iomega ZIP drives for ¥25,000. Another Iomega drive with the "Fuji" label on it was ¥1,000 more.

On the way back to the station I stopped at the SEGA game center since there were so many people watching. A future game for the SegaSaturn (something called like "Virtua On") was shown on the big screen. Pretty exciting robo-fighter game, the best ever!

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

February, 1996

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN