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Try your hand at building your very own tube amp

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Try your hand at building your very own tube amp

—you just need to know how to solder

Tokyo Radio (pronounced "rajio") Depart—short for "department store" & mdash; has been firmly established for the last 56 years and is still going strong. Some 60 stores are housed under its roof. It skillfully served the needs of the original otaku, from the time when Akihabara was just a bustling street market for electronic parts. The gadget boys of every era have passed through here. To them, building electronic machines with their own hands has always represented a connection with the future—their own future as well as the more collective vision of a science-fiction-filled future.
And even today, long after the establishment of a mass-consumer society in which everything comes completed and ready to plug in, there are people who frequent these stores and enjoy using their own hands to build electronic appliances.
The building hosts workshops regularly. When we visited in June, workshop attendees were building a standard tube amp (long the amplifier of choice for working musicians) using thermionic tubes. Under the guidance of the lecturer, students were building their own amplifiers out of materials provided by the workshop.
All you need to join in are basic soldering skills. During the summer holidays, the building also hosts special workshops for elementary-school kids. The price in 2006 was ¥15,800, which covered the lecture fee and materials.

Tokyo Radio Department Store Shopping Mall
Soto-Kanda 1-10-11, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
10 AM to 7 PM daily
Information about upcoming workshops is on the Web site.

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