Buying a mechanical keyboard in Japan

When you plan a trip to Tokyo, Japan; then you better come back with a new mechanical keyboard. Better yet, go book a ticket, because after buying a keyboard you can enjoy the world’s best city. At least, that’s my humble opinion after arriving back.

Unlike many other countries, major electronic stores in Japan don’t only sell Gaming mechanical keyboards, but also original mechanical keyboards for typists. A heaven of unique mechanical keyboards that people usually import at hefty prices or need to massdrop.

So when I walked down the streets of Akihabara, you can guess once what I was aiming for, after a visit at Super Potato of course.

“Filco, HHKB, and Leopold. Familiar names to me, but it was the first time I ever touched them”

Initially, my plan was to buy a new Tenkeyless (a.k.a 80%) keyboard without too many thrills, similar to our Wooting mechanical keyboard, but once I walked down the dedicated aisle for mechanical keyboards in Bic Camera (ビックカメラ), a massive electronic goods shop, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

An entirely nerdy situation similar to a 5yo walking through a candy store with a single dollar. I could choose between soo many different niche brands with all different type of switches… I hadn’t prepared well.

Once I turned to the next aisle, they also had 60% keyboards. I hadn’t owned one before, and seeing that the Wooting mechanical keyboard is going to be an 80% keyboard anyway, it was an ideal choice for research and all this remote work.

In the meanwhile time was not on my side, the store was about to close and I wasn’t planning to return on another day.

My choices were narrowed down to the following brands: Filco, HHKB, and Leopold. Familiar names, but it was the first time I ever touched them. Each of them had their quirks. Filco has a small spacebar and HHKB a very minimalistic layout.

“It was only during the (extremely polite) buying process that I realized what switch it had”

But when I saw Leopold’s 66key layout, I felt intrigued until the point that I tried typing on it… It felt unfamiliar but amazing. With Cherry MX and its copy switches in mind, I wasn’t able to figure out which one it had. The special layout with dedicated arrow keys but yet very minimal design was ideal, and the aesthetics didn’t hurt either.

Time was running out, and I still hadn’t figured out all the keyboard details. Other than my good first impression, I hadn’t much to go on. So when my wife returned from her shopping quest and informed me that the entire store was waiting for us, I followed my instinct and bought it.

It was only during the (extremely polite) buying process that I realized what switch it had. Topre switches; a Japanese-made mechanical switch mainly for industrial use, when failure is not an option. Usually, they come on Realforce keyboards, their daughter company, and rarely on anything else.

While unwrapping the entire thing in the hotel, I crossed my fingers placed my fingers on the keyboard and prayed I hadn’t made a bad choice, until I started typing on it… It was heaven on earth. An experience I hope we can also give with the Wooting mechanical keyboard.

So now I’m back home, writing this blog with a big smile. Remembering all the great experiences I had in Tokyo. Definitely worth another trip.

Need help finding Mechanical Keyboards in Japan?

You’re welcome to connect with us for some guidance or share your own experience!

Now check out my loot!

Keyboard Box: LEOPOLD FC 660C, dye sublimated keycaps
Keyboard Box: LEOPOLD FC 660C, dye sublimated keycaps
Everything inside the box.
Everything inside the box. There are additional keycaps, underneath there is a “dip-switch” that allowed you  to swap the ctrl and capslock key position.
Formula for capacitive switches
Formula for capacitive switches.
Topre Switch
Topre Switch (and LED on right top).
Calder Limmen Written by:

Co-founder & CEO at Wooting.

One Comment

  1. BlahBlah
    August 23, 2017

    Leopold is actually a Korean brand. And since you live in Taiwan, I believe you can just buy it there instead of in Japan.

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