I often browse old Japanese console and computer magazines. I’m mainly searching for old Hanafuda Koi-Koi video games, but sometimes I stumble across something else that is interesting in a totally different way.
In May 2019, whilst browsing an old issue of POPCOM over at the wonderful Internet Archive, I found a period map of the Akihabara 秋葉原 district — famous for its multitude of stores selling electronics, video games and other otaku goods.
I shared the map on Twitter, where it was well received, so I decided to go into this a bit more deeply here. Every so often I add any maps I find and there are now over 20 covering almost every year throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Get in touch if you have a map of Akihabara from the missing years. The Japanese あきはばら地図 or 秋葉原マップ mean “Akihabara map”.
Thanks to my Patreon supporters for funding this research. New supporters are always appreciated!
Browse by Year
The November 1976 issue of I/O magazine included a map of Akihabara which at this point was mostly radio electronics shops, with only very early signs of DIY computers.
Two maps can be seen in the combined book of issues from 1976 and 1977 that is available at Internet Archive. Hurrah!
A map was featured in だからいまマイコン “So now Microcomputer” by the University of Tokyo Microcomputer Club, Shueisha, 1981. Amazon Japan link. Thanks to a generous Twitter user for posting this photo at my request.
This map is from a scan of Technopolis magazine on the Internet Archive, dated November 1982. Given its illustrated nature the map is somewhat stylised but the landmarks are easily recognised.
A map was included with the January 1983 issue of Micom BASIC magazine. The below image is saved from a Yahoo! Japan Auction listing.
The map below is from POPCOM 1983-05 and is followed by 4 pages of listings that refer to the map using the A/J–1/10 key along its edge just in case you want to look some things up.
This one I found referenced on Twitter, a lovely map from the April 1985 issue of POPCOM (complete with cover artwork by Hiroshi Okamoto)
Missing: I found one on Twitter from a 1988 issue of ぴあ “Pia” magazine, but so far I’ve been unable to find scans of it.
This one from Google, but thankfully also present on Internet Archive. From I/O アイ・オー 1988年07月号 the July 1988 issue of I/O magazine.
Through Google I found a map featured in “AK gazette” from Winter 1991.
A partial map is featured in this article by NIKKEI which details the history of Akihabara and the phases of changes that happened throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Essential reading!
There are three really cool maps in ゲームウララ Vol.1より Game Urara Vol. 1 featuring PC, video game and food/amenities. One was seen on Twitter and the other two were a happy discovery after finding the scans on Internet Archive.
「ボーナスは大切にネ！! 秋葉原を上手に歩こう」 (“Take care of your bonus! Walk well in Akihabara.”) is a copy of the Akiba website dated June 1996, some four months before the earliest version in the Wayback Machine. A lot of the files that comprise the website are dated 1993, which I assume is when the site was first created. This sort of hand-built site really brings back some fond memories of the websites I built in the mid-90s: image maps, optimised GIFs, no content management system. Ah! The good old days.
The 250+ maps it contains are hyperlinked in a multitude of ways and the website navigates quite well considering its age. I’ve had most luck browsing using Netscape Navigator 3.01 (ja). The whole thing is quite comprehensive: maps are split into geographical zones and are detailed to a building floor level. Alternative lists by category and product type are also included. There are a total of 221 stores, of which 68 are member stores and receive more in-depth coverage with their own page and photos.
Another one from 1996 via Google, which was featured in the 「ASCII-DATES 1996」 notebook.
From Google, I found a map featured in either PC自作派 “PC DIY” Vol.1 (1997) or Vol.8 (late-1998).
This new discovery reminded me of another vintage map of Akihabara that I had seen recently, only this time it was digital and available for platforms that were popular at the time: Palm OS (as a native app), Macintosh and Windows (as a FileMaker Pro interactive database).
All versions of these interactive maps can be downloaded at the following links:
I think of this map as the DogCow Map due to the domain it was hosted on at the time, but its official name is Kosapi’s Akiba Map 「こさぴーの秋葉マップ」named after the group of fans that created and curated it by documenting their trips to Akihabara.
Missing: around this time you could buy the 秋葉原攻略ハンドブック Akihabara Strategy Handbook which included comprehensive maps and shop guides across hundreds of pages.
The HTML version was typical of websites at the time: way too many HTML files and images with image-maps presented as a frameset that makes specific pages pretty much impossible to bookmark. Ah, the heady days of Y2K web development!
The digital download versions of Kosapi’s Akiba Map were updated until around 2001, when I guess easy access to the internet made offline maps like this somewhat less useful.
But the FileMaker Pro database is interesting, as it can still be loaded and viewed on modern macOS. Using a vintage Trial version of FileMaker Pro 11 from 2010 which just about manages to run on macOS 10.13.6 — the database can be converted to a more modern format. You can click around hyperlinks to navigate and view business details in a very CD-ROM kind of way.
Anyway, I did a bunch of image grabbing and assembling to put together this large 27.8 megapixel version of the map (click the image below):
For 10 years, an interactive online map was published by Impress Corporation under the title of AKIBA PC Hotline! It’s similar to Kosapi’s Akiba Map and arguably better made.
I’ll be sure to add to this post if any other interesting vintage maps of Akihbara come to light. Especially for the years we’re currently missing maps.