Akihabara is a vibrant shopping mall known for its hardware stores, from small stalls to huge department stores like Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba. There are places specializing in animation and video games including the Tokyo Anime Center, for exhibitions and souvenirs, and Radio Kaikan where toys and collectibles are on display. Many consider Akihabara to be the center of modern Japanese popular culture and a major trading area for video games.
Before the World War II, this area consisted of busy and crowded population. After a large fire that almost completely destroyed the district, it was decided to leave the land clean in order to prevent new fires from approaching the imperial residence. It became known as the "autumn deciduous field" during World War II, when only autumn leaves were visible.
New materials can be found in stores on Chou Dori Main Street, while second-hand items of all kinds (software, hardware and more) can be found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3-chome. New replacement parts for DIY enthusiasts are available in many stores. Tools, electrical parts, cables, miniature cameras and more can be found in the small hallways of Soto Kanda 1-chome, near the station itself. Foreign tourists usually visit large shops near the station, while locals know where they can get better prices.