Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Japan has definitely entered the era of coworking spaces, and the area around Akihabara Station has multiple offerings at a variety of standards and price points.
Compared to the situation some years ago, the coworking space boom is definitely welcome. Tokyo has long had many attractive offerings, but places to sit down and get some work done had been lacking. Most people still park themselves in cafes that offer wifi, but for those individuals and small startups that need a little more, the coworking spaces are rising to meet the needs of new era. And what could be cooler than to base your business in the tech and anime capital of Akihabara?
Akihabara News has begun a review of the coworking spaces available within easy walking distance of JR Akihabara Station. We plan to update this survey in the weeks and months ahead as we learn about other offerings or gain additional information about those listed below.
The central part of what we call Akihabara is actually Sotokanda, which lay to the west of JR Akihabara Station, and includes Electric Town, Radiokaikan, and the main thoroughfare of Chuo-dori. It is in the northern part of this central district, close to Suehirocho Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, that the new offering of 1/3 Life is located.
Having just completed an interior renewal, this coworking space may take the prize for being the most fashionable, comfortable, and imbued with young energy. Just as you enter, there is a bar and cafe, and the interior seats are relatively spacious and quiet.
The second floor of the facility includes a couple of offices with larger tables that are even more quiet. The second floor is open 24-hours a day, every day of the year, to those with full membership. Most of the staff members speak English.
They also offer mailboxes for startups that register their addresses at the coworking space.
An unique feature is that membership in the coworking space plan also comes with access to a fitness gym which is located about two blocks away to the north.
The best part? This is one of the most reasonably priced, with their monthly plans ranging from only 9,200 yen (for the cafe only) to 45,000 yen. It’s a stunningly good offering.
Rampart is also a quite affordable workspace, located just a few steps from JR Akihabara Station on its east side, in Kanda Sakumacho. It’s main monthly plan runs at only 22,000 yen.
The facilities definitely have a more Showa Era aesthetic, located in an old office building and in general looking like the typical Japanese office of a small or medium-sized company.
Rampart includes a smoking room, and the smell of cigarettes is definitely in the air. This may be the go-to coworking space for smokers, but non-smokers may want to look for another option.
Aside from the bright and open main room, there are also two meeting rooms available at Rampart. They also specialize in having various computer cables and cords available for their patrons.
Bottom line: You can’t beat the access to JR Akihabara Station and the price is excellent. Rampart was the busiest coworking space we visited, and it is clearly popular with Japanese businesspeople working in the area.
Regus Akihabara Minami
For a much more expensive option, Regus Akihabara Minami is not far from JR Akihabara Station, located across the Kanda River near Iwamotocho Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line.
Regus, of course, is one of the major corporate players in the coworking space industry, and so the atmosphere here is much more upscale and impersonal. There is a wider variety of spaces and meeting rooms than those on offer by the smaller players. The facility was being well-used when we visited, so clearly this too is a popular option for businesspeople, both Japanese and foreign.
On the first floor of the GYB Akihabara Building, where Regus is located, there is also an interesting, though unaffiliated, cashless cafe, so a good food and coffee option is not far in looking.
Regus was the most opaque about its actual monthly costs, with a system that apparently requires customers to contact a representative to get a quote. We were able to gather, however, that Regus is several times more expensive than the offerings of the smaller operations like 1/3 Life and Rampart.
BIZcomfort Akihabara Iwamotocho
In the same southeastern direction from JR Akihabara Station, but further down Yanagihara-dori, are the coworking facilities of BIZcomfort Akihabara Iwamotocho.
The first thing that a visitor will come across is the fact that there is no staff. Indeed, when we visited there was no signs of life inside the facility at all.
Members are given a 24-hour keycard and mainly just fend for themselves, apparently.
But there is also a distinct upside. With a standard monthly plan running at only 12,000 yen it is the cheapest coworking space near JR Akihabara Station that we’ve found, and the desks and chairs appear to be comfortable enough.
Those who are looking for a very quiet place, without distractions, to set up their computers and work, and who are the more self-reliant sort of people, may find this one to be their best option, especially at this price point.
Lifork boasts what is probably the best location for a coworking space near Akihabara Station, found on the 4th floor of the UDX Building, to the popular northwest direction from the station past the AKB48 Cafe and the Gundam Cafe.
This coworking space is run by the NTT Urban Development Corporation, and definitely has that more impersonal corporate feeling to it. Also, not surprisingly, it can be one of the more expensive offerings.
Lifork does appear to have one particular strength, which is that it might be the best option for those who have more than one person in their company needing a coworking facility, with two, three, and four-person workrooms available at a premium price. One person private workspaces run 55,000 yen per month, while the four-person spaces reach 180,000 yen per month.
There are also some small and large-sized meeting rooms available for rent at fairly reasonable prices.