21 April 2011
Akihabara Radio Kaikan to be rebuilt
Photo of Radio Kaikan taken during my visit to Akihabara in 2009
This is not exactly news anymore, but Radio Kaikan building in Akihabara is scheduled to close down at the end of July 2011 for rebuild.
Radio Kaikan (ラジオ会館) is one of the first noticeable buildings one will see when stepping out of the JR Akihabara Station via the Denkigai exit (電気街口). With its bright yellow banner and colourful windows and convenient location, it's not too hard to spot it. A lot of shops selling a variety of hobby stuff (figures, models, gashapons, shokugans, cards etc) are in there: Kaiyodou, Kotobukiya, Yellow Submarine, VOLKS, Uchusen, and several more.
Picture from Moeyo
According to Japanese Wikipedia, Radio Kaikan was originally built in 1953, with shops inside selling home electronics in the first place. The name "Radio" not only applies to radios but also to other home electronics in general back then. Later on audio and PC stuff slowly moved in before they were slowly "phased out" by anime-related hobby items as electronics businesses dwindled (but there are still several electronics shop in there at the moment).
Repairs on cracks on walls at the staircase after the earthquake last month (source here)
There were concerns on the building's age, as well as its resistance against earthquakes. It was decided in September 2010 that the 8-storey building will be torn down for a new one, which will be 12 floors high (10 above ground, 2 underground). The old one is scheduled to be closed at the end of July, and the new one will is scheduled to be completed some time in 2014 (although some sources suggest 2013 for completion).
Picture from Moeyo
A "farewell wall" ("Radio Kaikan Sayonara!! Wall", ラジオ会館さよなら！！ウォール) was set up on 15th April in one of the vacant rooms with a canvas board of 5.4m x 1.8m for people to sign or write what they want to bid farewell for the current Radio Kaikan building. The signing campaign ended on 19th April. It is stated on the official website that the signed wall will be kept in the new building once it is completed and it will be available for display.
Steins;Gate anime promotional poster featuring Radio Kaikan in the background, from Random Curiosity
Radio Kaikan has always been the first place I visit when I arrive in Akihabara, and I always sent at least a couple of hours just to look around from one shop to another. From what I've read so far the shops will move to nearby buildings in Akihabara while Radio Kaikan is to be rebuilt (most likely temporarily), but not all shops have confirmed on the new locations yet as it is still an ongoing thing at the moment.
Even though there are still many shops out there (and many more I may not know of) in Akihabara, I will miss Radio Kaikan for its appearance and the concentration of shops it has in one place, which is *a little* similar to some malls in Hong Kong such as Oriental 188 and Sino Centre. Hope the new Radio Kaikan will remain as memorable as the current one that we know well.