2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan
A quirky shopping street, located below the tracks of the Yamanote line, that consists of 50 boutiques selling handmade products from all over Japan. Many of the products sold here cannot be had anywhere else in Tokyo.
2k540 opened in the end of 2010, and is the result of an ambitious project undertaken by JR, the biggest train operator in Japan. The idea was to make better use of the land the company owns by repurposing the space below the elevated railroad tracks, so a section of the tracks between Akihabara and Okachimachi was turned into a pedestrian shopping street called 2K540 Aki-Oka Artisan. JR invited small-scale producers and craftsmen from all over the country to set up shop here, with many of the stores family-run by true craftsmen, sometimes with a long heritage.
Here you’ll find everything from quirky toys and interior goods to handmade shoes, hats and bags. Let me guide you to some of my favorite stores in this unique space.
Uamou is an independent toy manufacturer. Their products revolves around the horned alien with the same name as the store. Many of their soft vinyl figures are made in limited runs and often have details crafted by hand. Apart from the toys, they also sell jewellery, apparel and art.
Next door to the store there’s a small bar/café, named Boo after Uamou’s best friend, run by Ayako’s brother. Their roast beef lunch bowl for 880 yen comes highly recommended! But they only serve five of them per day, so make sure to arrive early if you want to grab one.
Tokyo Noble is a little store which sells umbrellas in 77 different colors. Pick your color, pattern and handle, and your custom made umbrella will be assembled by hand and available to pick up within minutes. But quality umbrellas don’t come cheap; expect to pay from 6500 yen and upwards for one.
As the name Masunaga 1905 implies, this store has a history dating back to the early 20th century. Their frames have been awarded with the Silmo D’or, the academy award of sunglasses, sort of. The selection of high quality frames is impressive. And according to the staff, the vast majority of them are made in Japan. In case you’re planning to treat yourself to a pair it might be comforting to know that one of their opticians speaks English.
Nocra sells wooden products designed in Hokkaido. I particularly like their business card holders for 2200 yen. For a few hundred yen extra they will engrave your name (or someone else’s) on it. Their products range from toys to traditional Japanese hinamatsuri dolls with a unique twist.
Fancy a new pair of sneakers? Hand made from kangaroo leather? Then you’re in luck, as this is exactly what Spingle Move is all about. All their shoes are produced in a small factory located in Hiroshima. We are particularly fond of the fact that they offer extensive after sales service (albeit at an extra cost). In case your shoes break, you can bring them back to the store or use a form on their webpage, to get a quote on suitable repair.
Despite the small scale production and the amount of manual labor involved, the prices are quite reasonable. Expect to pay from 15,000 yen and upwards for a pair.
In case you feel tired from the shopping and want to take a break, we suggest you drop by Yanaka Coffee, a small roastery with several stores all over Tokyo. The smell of freshly roasted beans is hard to resist, let your nose guide you to the right place!
So what about that weird name of this place? 2K540 derives from the distance to Tokyo Station, which is 2 kilometers and 540 meters away. And Aki-Oka is an abbreviation from Akihabara and Okachimachi, the two stops on the Yamanote Line that this shopping street is located between.
Posts by Said Karlsson