Akihabara has changed a great deal in the last 25 years. Back in the early '90s, when Japanese electronics makers dominated the world and the bubble economy had yet to pop, every other store was selling consumer electronics and the billboards of Akihabara were crowded with advertisements for products made by Sony, Panasonic and Sharp.
Fast forward 30 years, and those household names are conspicuous by their absence. These days, Akihabara's billboards advertise world-famous gaming companies, anime series and manga characters. Consumer electronics stores are outnumbered by shops selling toys, gaming consoles and computer software. Any retail space left over goes to maid cafes and CBD-infused decaffeinated coffee retailers.
How did this happen? Why did the bottom fall out of electronics manufacturing in Japan? And how did Akihabara go from being a showcase for its electronics makers to becoming capital of "Cool Japan?"