Art and Artisans in Akihabara
In an area of Tokyo mostly known for its electronics, it was a real treat to find 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan, a large warehouse-type structure located under the tracks near Akihabara and full of shop after shop of beautiful works of art. My friend Jill and I set out to find it on a rainy Tuesday and the whole day turned out to be a treat for the senses.
The concept itself is from the JR East Company and according to CNN, the name comes from the 2.54km it takes to get to Tokyo Station and it’s location between Akihabara and Okachimachi stations. Jill and I took the Yamanote line to get there, but we realized that the walk to get there from the Akihabara station on the Hibiya Line can be much simpler depending on where you start, so that’s how we got home.
As we walked toward the art center from the station, we ran into a fantastic shop called Chabara that seems to have every Japanese food curiosity in the country. It even has a sake tasting table and all different types of sauces and tsukemono, pickles. Of course what fascinated us was the tasting bar for the flavored nut snacks – they came in 20 different flavors, from honey to wasabi to cherry and we tried many of them.
Unfortunately you can’t take pictures along most of the lane of 2k540, but the entire lane is lined with storefronts of every type of Japanese are imaginable. There are several shops of ceramics, many of hand-dyed cloth, and quite a number of shops showing jewelry all hand made. My favorite place was the umbrella shop. The entire shop was full of handmade umbrellas in every color of the rainbow. I have a few special occasions coming up and I found one shop that specializes in wedding gifts – personalized, of course.
There were only two small cafes in the entire place, which is almost as long as an American football field, and we did not eat in them. But rest assured, they looked funky and interesting. On our random Tuesday, the place was mostly empty, but I imagine it would be quite busy on the weekend.
2k540 Aki Oka Artisan is an oasis of calm and beauty in the midst of the craziness that is Akihabara. If you need any type of gift, I’d highly recommend a trip.