If you were among the hordes of shoppers itching to spend summer bonuses last weekend, perhaps you got caught up in the frenzy in Akihabara. Everywhere in Tokyo's "Electric Town," the hunt was on for air conditioners, computers, MD players, stereos and the latest flat-screen TVs.

Spiraling national debt, painful restructuring, near-record unemployment; bah! No one seemed troubled by such trifles. The tens of thousands of people milling up and down Chuo-dori, the area's main strip, wanted to slap their yen down on a counter and nothing could get in their way.

I was in Akihabara, too. Perhaps you passed me lurking around Laox, Akihabara's largest electronics retailer, tapping computer keyboards or flicking the scroll wheel on a mouse. Or maybe you were alongside me at a PC do-it-yourself shop as I admired orange-and-blue CPU cooler fans, the kind with ball-bearings to silence their whir.