Alleys of Seattle

Tokyo day 3

Posted in Japan by seattlealleys on November 18, 2010




Yesterday was primarily spent exploring the Akihabara neighbirhood of Tokyo. This place is the center of electronic supplies and video game culture in the city. There are many small through block arcades selling everything from CPUs to terabyte external hard drives as well as tools and chips. You can shop around market style for about seven square blocks and walk away with a computer.
The arcades, alleys, underside of train viaducts, and extremely narrow “pencil” buildings contain shops, arcades, and restaurants in every floor and basement. These myriad pencil buildings, ubiquitous through the major cities in the country, are apparently the result
of a hefty property tax placed upon those inheriting land. It makes more sense financially to most to split their land into a number of parcels for development, warranting the extra thin profile. I saw a hair salon and spa yesterday that was recently completed and maybe ten feet wide!
I finished the day by revisiting golden gai in kabukicho to see what the upstairs bars were like in these tiny two story buildings to be surprised by greatly efficient spaces like a submarine. I measured a plan for one with the gracious owner who was very curious about my “rare” interest in Roji (alley) spaces.


3 Responses

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  1. Peggy Brennan said, on November 24, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Hi Dan, I’ve been following your blog – you have had some fantastic adventures. I recognize a lot of the pictures from Japan. I spent quite a bit of time wandering around Shibuya, Akihabara, Ginza, etc. It’s amazing how they use such little space! Thanks for all the reporting. It brings back memories.

    All is well at the Green Garage (and the Green Alley) here in Detroit. Still in construction mode, but it is all exciting. Our alley will be participating in our annual Noel Night in a couple of weeks, with firepits for S’mores in the alley, tours of the building, bands marching down the alley. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

    Peggy Brennan

    • seattlealleys said, on November 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm


      Thanks for following the advevtures! I am literally just picking up my bags at the airport. I hope the alley evjoys its first holiday season as well as you and the whole green garage family! I’ll post some overviews over the break after I sift through some 1400 images!

      Happy holidays,


  2. DK said, on December 1, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I love Akihabara. Doesn’t it feel like you’re on the inside of a pinball machine? Plus 25,609 more pulsing lights, of course.

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