When you’re a little kid, any slightly long object turns into your own personal phone. The remote control, a banana, maybe even a sausage have all served as substitute talking devices for children not quite old enough to have their own fully-functional mobile device.
REST AND RELAXATION in Waikiki. A boys’ night out in Vegas. Gadget shopping in Tokyo. Most guys might choose the first two escapes, but I’ve been going to Tokyo every year for the past decade to seek out the newest gizmos—products that haven’t yet made it to the west or are simply too niche to ever be imported. In my travels, I’ve found tiny wooden speakers hand-carved out of rare Japanese cedar, silicone keyboards that roll up like a burrito and a Gameboy cartridge filled with 500 games that were never released stateside.
Some of the gadgets are brilliant solutions to urgent nerd problems; others will leave you dumbfounded. Don’t let the sillier products deter you, though. For every bewildering gadget you’ll find, a dozen more will be worth taking home. And, luckily for tech-obsessed tourists, getting around is easy: Most of the key stops are in the Akihabara neighborhood, on the Japan Railway’s Yamanote line.
Here are five of my favorite spots, as well as a few of the curios that I found on my latest trip. While you can buy some of these products online, there’s no substitute for making an actual pilgrimage.