A simple request, a little etiquette
Whether you’re in Japan on a holiday or you’ve been living here for a while, you can never really know, what all the rules are. Especially those, that are never written down anywhere. Here are some guidelines for you, for when you are in Akihabara. Please, please follow them. You make life easier for yourself and everyone around you.
Lately, a lot of tourists from various countries come to Japan. Mostly thanks to the boost in popularity from the 2020 Olympics. This is beneficial for some part of the industry and economy. But not for all. The directly affected areas often see it more as a bother than anything else, because mannerisms are lacking a lot. Since I haven’t been in Japan continually for the past 4 years, but had a break, in which I only came as a tourist for a week, I felt the change happen. And it’s not a good change.
2012/2013, Akihabara was, even on busy days, super enjoyable. Everyone was walking at a nice pace, a few people only were walking on the wrong side of the walkway, talking was done in a normal tone at a level, that didn’t bother the people around them.
2014, it felt less enjoyable, but was still fun. More tourists behaved badly, were obnoxious and loud, only thought about themselves and not how the people around them. Walking became more difficult. Foreigners only at this point.
2015, when I came back to Japan as a student, I went to Akihabara on a weekend and couldn’t believe, what chaos was going on, how bad mannerisms were even with Japanese people. I thought to myself “What happened?” I now avoid Akihabara on weekends and holidays as much as possible, due to that fact. Here is why.
People, foreigners and Japanese alike, walk in a chaotic manner. Japan is a country, like England, Australia and a few Africa countries, where you drive on the left side of the road. This also applies to walking on the sidewalk and standing on the escalator. (Note: Osaka is a little different there.) You can’t walk straight for more than a few steps on a regular day, even less on busy days.
Please keep to the left side
Walking speeds vary immensely due to difference in step length, how busy you are and how fast you want to walk in general. If you’re window shopping, you don’t want to walk fast. I get that. On the other hand, there are people out there, who need to get to work, so you can enjoy your day off. They are the ones that service you. Other people don’t want to be stuck behind you, because you block the sidewalk with 3 people, where easily 8 or more could walk next to each other. And they sure don’t want to suddenly have to stop, because you decided to do so and they don’t to bump into you. Zigzagging through a crowd is not fun. Even less, when you carry a lot of stuff around with you.
Please be considerate of the people around you
This one is the most annoying, that I came across. You are a tourist, whether you live in Japan and came to visit Tokyo, or you really are from a foreign country just to visit Japan and see Akihabara. This doesn’t entitle you to take pictures of everything and anyone. Yes, you want to show your friends and family at home, how crazy and weird Japan is. How the maids are standing on the street, handing out flyers in their frilly maid uniforms.
Don’t take pictures of maids and idols on the street
If you want to have a picture of a maid, please go to that maid café with her and get a cheki or bromaid. Why? Because it’s part of their salary. Cheki and a maids original goods, like bromaids, original cocktails and so on, translate directly into extra salary. For idols, that are promoting their next live performance, this is an even bigger issue. If you take pictures of them with your camera, for free, you make them work but you don’t pay them. They don’t volunteer to work for your amusement in that moment. This is slavery.
Here is a picture for you of the maid street, the street in Akihabara with the highest maid dencity. You can use if freely as if it was your own. I grant you permission to this.
It’s a little bit older. The maids have graduated. And even so, for privacy reasons, their faces are not shown. Still, the street didn’t change much. You can take pictures of the buildings as much as you like. But please, if avoidable, don’t take pictures of maids on the street.
With these 3 very simple rules, you make live in Akihabara easier and the whole experience more enjoyable, for yourself and everyone else. Thank you.