Tokyo's Akihabara is known for its retro game shops, arcades, and store after store of anime goodies. It is not known for bespoke PC hardware or the best gaming keyboards. But nestled into the side streets of northern Akihabara is a very cool little shop called Yushakobo, just opened in January of 2019, that sells 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 making custom parts. When I was visiting, I'm pretty sure the laser cutter was stenciling a sign that said "Keyboard cafe."
It's a delightful little store. Here's a collection of photos from my visit, along with descriptions.
A friendly sign outside that lets you know you're in the right place for some keyboard action. Notice the keycap hairclip!
A look at most of the shop. To the right are shelves with keyboards and parts on sale. To the left is the workshop area where you can use tools to work on keyboards.
Several unique split keyboard designs on the shelves.
A split design, with no keycaps so you can see the switches underneath.
These. Are. Adorable.
I have to admit I don't know anything about Zinc keyboards.
Those are some svelte keycaps. And the price is the same as they are online!
A stack of drawers here contains tons of keycaps, springs, and other parts for various keyboard types.
Some recent hobbyist print publications about mechanical keyboards. There must be a decent audience in Japan!
Lots of keycap choices.
Over on the left side of the room, a tool wall for those building at the store.
The laser cutter in action.
The kind of keyboard publication we don't really have in the US.
Some fancy box sets of keycaps. So colorful!
Of course they had a keycap gachapon machine.
My favorite thing in the shop was a keyswitch tester. I've never seen one like this before. Most switch testers come with a variety of switches, say four or maybe eight, so you can feel the difference in resistance and clickyness between a Cherry MX reds and browns and blacks and so on. This one's different.
This switch tester has a PCB like a proper keyboard, and is connected to a monitor that gives you the details about the key you just pressed. And there are so many switches! It's awesome.
The employees at the store didn't speak much English, and I don't speak much Japanese, so I didn't learn much about the shop beyond what I could see. But if I lived in Tokyo, this is definitely the place I'd come to get a specially designed keyboard.
Special thanks to reader Jack Slater for telling me about the shop!