Skip to main content

These are the coolest tech souvenirs we found in Tokyo’s famous Electric Town

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you were let loose in Akihabara, Tokyo’s famous Electric Town district, would you go searching for a tech souvenir to take home? I’m assuming the answer would be yes, because that’s exactly what I did. With a time limit of two hours, I scoured as much of Akihabara as possible to find a fun, high-tech souvenir that someone may want to bring home, and here’s what I found.

Which one would you have chosen?

The criteria

If you want to buy a new piece of tech in Akihabara, that’s not really a problem. Both Bic Camera and Yodabashi Camera — massive, multi-floor tech megastores — are easy to find, and sell almost every new consumer tech product you can imagine. If you want to see everything in either one, it’ll easily take you longer than the two hour time limit I set myself.

Additionally, most of what you can find in there is available all over the world, so it wouldn’t really remind you of Japan after you return home. No, it’s much more fun to find a specifically Japanese item, or at least a rare piece of tech instead; but to do this, you have to tour the many alternative tech stores in Akihabara, and this is where the challenge lies.

It’s easy to spend the whole day doing this. There are multiple stores spread all over the town, often on multiple levels, or hidden away in basements, and if you can’t read Japanese, it needs dedication and a willingness to walk through mysterious doors to find them. Then, once you get inside a good store, some of the more interesting stuff is found in flea market-style cabinets and boxes, and they take time to examine. This is the fun of Akihabara — you never quite know what you’ll find, or where.

I wanted something preferably unique to Japan, a special edition product, or at the very least something I hadn’t seen for years. My quest was not easy, and I soon discovered it wasn’t going to be cheap either. However, here’s a look at the kind of thing you’ll find when you go touring in Akihabara for a tech souvenir.

Gameboy Color

Image used with permission by copyright holder

There’s one particular store along the main street in Akihabara that sells retro games consoles, cartridges, and discs. There were stacks of these Gameboy Color handhelds, all in different colors; but it was the Atomic Purple transparent one that caught my eye. Originally released in 1998, the Gameboy Color is not especially rare; but it is still a fun retro toy to own.

The small screen has a resolution of 160 x 144 pixels and could show more than 32,000 colors, while the handheld itself required two AA batteries to run for about 10 hours. Why would I choose one of these? It’s the amount of cartridges sold in the store. You could choose a variety and quickly indulge in a wonderful retro gaming experience on the flight home.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Most models were up for about 8,480 yen, which is about $77 or 60 British pounds, and each cart varied in price. You could have also purchased both R-Type and Nemesis cartridges for $22 or about 17 pounds.

PlayStation Vita Hatsune Miku Edition

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Released in 2012, this limited edition version of the PlayStation Vita was made to commemorate the release of the Hatsune Miku Project Diva game. The white console comes with Miku artwork on the back, and originally included the Project Diva game along with a 4GB memory card. This version was found inside a jam-packed used games store, and even though it came unboxed, it still commanded a 24,075 yen price.

How much is that? Just over $221, or 170 British pounds. That’s an expensive souvenir, but as it was only ever available in Japan you’d be getting something pretty special. The desirability is raised again if you’re a Hatsune Miku fan, and I’m definitely that. It was tough to resist this one.

Sony FES U Watch

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sony’s FES U watch is an unusual wearable with a customizable e-paper screen that stretches from the watch face down onto the strap. It’s a fashion watch rather than a smartwatch, making it less useful, and it was initially released in Japan back in 2017. Since then it has been made available internationally, complete with a massive, ridiculous price tag.

There were several FES U watches in the window of a backstreet Akihabara store, and what really stood out was the price. It was the cheaper version with mineral glass rather than sapphire, but the 19,000 yen price converts over to $175 or 135 British pounds, considerably less than the retail price of 440 pounds in the U.K., or about $570.

A comparative bargain price for the quirky, unusual watch, and answer me this: when was the last time you saw someone wearing one?

Infobar XV

Image used with permission by copyright holder

I was on the lookout for the Infobar A03 touchscreen phone, but couldn’t find one in the many used phone stores in Akihabara, at least in my two hour search. I did find a few of these beauties though — the Infobar XV. It’s actually quite new, having only been released in 2018; but it (along with all Infobar phones) is exclusive to Japan.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s a real stunner, and in these times of minimalist phones like the Punkt MP02 it’s still on-trend. It has Android installed, but with limited functionality so it only runs the most essential apps. The 3.1-inch screen has a 480 x 800 pixel resolution, and there’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back. However, since it’s a Japan-only phone, it’s unlikely to have the right bands for use internationally, so it may just be a design curio rather than a useable phone.

I found two of the three colors made, and each cost 24,800 yen. That’s about $228, or 175 British pounds.

RoBoHon

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Finally, and probably the most extravagant souvenir most would ever buy, it’s RoBoHon. Sharp’s robot phone is too adorable for words, and the only product I asked to take photos of when he came out of the cabinet; but as with most Japanese stores it wasn’t allowed. RoBoHon has a 2-inch screen on his back, and a projector in his head, plus a Snapdragon 400 processor, 2GB of RAM, and Android 5.0 Lollipop onboard.

RoBoHon’s original price was an eye-watering 198,000 yen, or a massive $1,820 or 1,400 British pounds. This used version was yours for 89,800 yen — $825 or 635 pounds. Expensive, but a truly unusual Japan-only piece of tech that very few will have ever seen, let alone used. However, like the Infobar, the Japan-only status may limit RoBoHon’s usefulness outside the country.

What if you missed your chance?

We’ve all done it. Seen something and been indecisive, and then missed our chance to buy it. What if you didn’t get one of these, and then regretted it? I took a look on eBay to see which is easy to buy outside Japan. Unsurprisingly, the Gameboy Color is plentiful, with prices for the transparent models starting at about $45. Almost all the Hatsune Miku edition PlayStation Vita’s come from Japan on eBay, and prices are twice that of the model I found in Akihabara.

You can buy the Sony FES U watch new from Amazon in the U.K., while on eBay in the U.S. almost all have to be imported from Japan at prices ranging from about $300 upwards, with many around the $500 mark. A few Infobar XV’s are for sale as imports for at least $425, while import RoBoHon models hover around $2,000 or more. Based on these prices, all but the Gameboy Color would have been a great value purchase.

Which one would you choose?

These are the items that caught my eye during my two hour search, along with a few others that I didn’t get to see in detail, including a beautiful Astell & Kern A&Norma SR15 Uma Musume: Pretty Derby special edition for 55,000 yen ($505/340 British pounds). Which one did I choose? I almost bought the Infobar XV, because it’s so pretty; but because this is Akihabara, my love of Japanese idol group Nogizaka46 meant I spent the cost of the phone on other memorabilia instead.

What about you, which one would you have chosen?

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
4 reasons why I bought the Galaxy Ring (and 1 that almost stopped me)
The Samsung Galaxy Ring next to its charging case.

Is it time for smart rings to enter the mainstream? Samsung certainly hopes so, having used the latest Galaxy Unpacked as an arena to launch the Samsung Galaxy Ring. And early reports seem to suggest Samsung's gamble is paying off, as U.S. stock of certain Galaxy Ring models sold out almost immediately.

I'm certainly not immune to the appeal. I've dropped my own preorder for the Galaxy Ring and am eagerly awaiting my ring-sizing kit. But my route to preorder wasn't smooth, and I thought long and hard about whether the Galaxy Ring would be right for me -- or whether the Oura Ring, Samsung's main competition in this space, would be a better choice.

Read more
Here’s when you can expect One UI 7 to arrive on your Samsung phone
The Samsung Galaxy S21 next to the Samsung Galaxy S24.

The release of Google's Android 15 is getting closer, so Samsung is understandably also nearing the release of One UI 7 for its mobile devices. According to reliable tipster Ice Universe, beta testing for One UI 7 could start in just a few days. They explain that testing will commence before the end of July or in early August.

As noted by Android Police, once everything is in order with One UI 7, Samsung is expected to announce its features and make the firmware available for its Galaxy S24 series smartphones in the U.S. and South Korea. Subsequent beta releases will likely be available in other regions a few weeks later.

Read more
Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra vs. Apple Watch Ultra 2: Which one is the best?
Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra with black band and Apple Watch Ultra with orange band against a gradient blue background.

This year, Samsung has taken its wearables to an impressive new level with the new Galaxy Watch Ultra, a smartwatch that’s inevitably drawing comparisons with its biggest rival, the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

From the name to the design, it’s apparent that this is precisely what Samsung was going for. However, it’s unfair to call the Galaxy Watch Ultra merely a copycat product. There are also some ways in which Samsung has put its unique spin on the new extreme wearable, and it’s certainly a much better fit for the needs of outdoor adventure enthusiasts than 2022’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which was a decent smartwatch that suffered from a bit of an identity crisis.

Read more