Inside a custom mechanical keyboard shop in Akihabara, Tokyo
Akihabara in Tokyo is known for its retro game shops, arcades and anime boutiques. It is known for custom PC hardware or the best gaming keyboard. But tucked away on a side street in northern Akihabara is a really cool little shop called Yushakobo, which just opened in January 2019, selling keycaps and other components for custom mechanical keyboards. It’s also a workspace where you can come and build your own keyboard, complete with tools and even a 3D printer and laser cutter for custom parts. When I visited, I was pretty sure the laser cutter was printing a sign that said “Keyboard Cafe”.
This is a delightful little shop. Here’s a photo collection of my visit, along with a description.
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There’s a friendly sign on the outside to let you know you’re in the right place for some keystrokes. Watch out for the keycap hairpins!
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Check out most stores. On the right is a shelf that sells keyboards and parts. On the left is the workshop area where you can use tools to work on the keyboard.
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There are several unique split keyboard designs on the shelves.
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Split design with no keycaps so you can see the switch underneath.
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These. Yes. Lovely.
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I have to admit I don’t know anything about Zinc keyboards.
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These are some slim keycaps. And the price is the same as online!
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The stack of drawers here contains a plethora of keycaps, springs, and other parts for various keyboard types.
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Some recent hobbyist print publications about mechanical keyboards. There must be a good audience in Japan!
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Lots of keycap options.
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On the left side of the room, the tool wall for those building in the shop.
A laser cutter in action.
The kind of keyboard publication we don’t have in the US.
Some fancy boxed keycaps. So colorful!
Of course, they have a keycap gashapon machine.
My favorite thing in the store is a key switch tester. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Most switch testers come with switches like four or eight, so you can feel the difference in resistance and click between Cherry MX reds and browns and blacks, etc. This one is different.
This switch tester has a PCB, like a proper keyboard, and is connected to a monitor that gives you detailed information about the key you just pressed. And there are so many switches! it’s great.
The staff in the store don’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Japanese, so I don’t know much about the store. But if I live in Tokyo, that’s definitely the place I’d come here to buy a specially designed keyboard.
Special thanks to reader Jack Slater for telling me about this store!
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