From early 2000s, Akiba.TV has broadcasted the scenes of Akihabara through online video content. They also conduct a guide tour company Akiba Deep Travel focusing on real experience to provide rich understanding to the city. NOHGA HOTEL AKIHABARA TOKYO has collaborated with the company to manage original guide tours. We interviewed Yuichiro Yoshioka and Kouichi Sugimori, co-founders of the company who have connection to the city through both business and personal interests, about the fascination of the city's diversity and complexity, and how we could perceive it.
Mr.Yoshioka started to develop the idea of Akiba.TV in the early 2000s. It was when the public merely started to upload video/audio files via Internet and video-sharing platforms hardly existed.
Mr.Yoshioka (Y) "Back then I had premonitions that online video content was going to take over television in the near future. I had an idea of live-broadcasting time-limited sale at Akihabara every day. When businessmen see it, they will have the alternative to buy it online. It's very close to what live commerce offers nowadays."
Mr.Yoshioka soon contacted Mr.Sugimori, his university friend who joined the radio broadcast club together and made programs with Mr.Yoshioka, to work on a project aside their job to interview people in business at Akihabara. From 2003, they steadily kept uploading their interview videos on their blog, which eventuated as their incorporation in 2005, letting Akiba.TV officially become a business.
(Y) "I wasn't dreaming anything big. It was just that I loved the city of Akihabara, that's all. If I continued this project, it would be a good archive for the city, that was the primary motivation."
The guide tour in collaboration with NOHGA HOTEL will be meticulously customized reflecting participant's requests, where they will tour the whole city and specialty shops. Since Akiba.TV commits in both information platform and sightseeing, originality is worth expecting.
(Y) "I hope the tour will draw out tons of discoveries. Maybe the participants may not know of what to expect at first, but they will definitely find the whole experience satisfying at last."
Mr.Sugimori (S) "Our advantage is that we create video content and communicate it online. The best way to enjoy Akihabara is to watch our online videos as an introduction, then go to actual sites for deeper understanding. We are glad to help out NOHGA HOTEL to be one of the base to know further of the city."
Mr.Yoshioka and Mr.Sugimori both often visit Akihabara for their personal interests and hobbies. When we asked them how they would describe the city, they replied with the precise words that matches the city's characteristic.
(S) "Electronic components, home electronics, audio, computers, subculture and E-sports...Although the city seems to have change its representation in decades, they still have long-established shops selling the same product, or some remaining with their business domain changed. It has a historical aspect seen in places such as Akiba Shrine and Kanda Myoujin Shrine, and residential area remains to the present, too. The city is like a crisscross layer of chronal change and various genre's innovation."
The moment people encounter the complexity of the "layers", it is when they realize the true fascination of Akihabara. Considering this, Akiba.TV always bear in mind to explain the historical background of the city. What is the common characteristic hidden in Akihabara's layers of history and culture?
(Y) "Creative spirit lies in the core, which flows in the entire East Tokyo area. The motivation, in which people want to seriously pursue their interests and sharing like-minds, is totally same with other creative genres. Besides electronic creativity, Comic Market and dōjinshi (fanfiction) are iconic features of derivative creation. It is just another form of creativity."
The creativity born from this place will lead to another stratum of the layers. It is a positive point of view for the city's future.
A dōjinshi magazine by Tokyo Cultural Heritage Alliance which Mr.Yoshioka and Mr.Sugimori wrote an essay.
In 2014, Akiba.TV started Akiba Deep Travel, a company offering guide tours around the city.
(Y) "We are usually asked niche questions about the city from foreign visitors. These sorts of information could not be provided unless you go to a specific information center. Akiba Deep Travel was the conclusion of the increasing demands and our way to convey true Akihabara beyond online video content. We are thankful for those who recognize us, rely us for our activities."
In one statistic, Akihabara is one of the high-ranked cities people are wanting to visit, while they have low percentage of repeating visitors. One of Akiba Deep Travel's mission is to suggest depths of the city to visitors and encourage them to come back some day.
(Y) "There is a unique 'Akiba face' for each visitor. The more people visit the city, the more routes and layers arise from their interests. When we are able to fascinate visitors by conveying the essence of unknown genres, the tour successes its mission."
The guide tour will be an ultimate discovery experience in collaboration of NOHGA HOTEL AKIHABARA TOKYO where staffs will take care of each guests' requests, and Akiba.TV / Akiba Deep Travel who thoroughly knows Akihabara by every inch. Like Mr.Sugimori said, the hotel aims to become a reliable base for visitors to deeply acquaint with Akihabara.