Everytime Jan and I talked about going to Japan (from years ago when it was just a distant goal up to a few days before our actual trip) one thing remained constant… we were going to visit Akihabara.
Akihabara is a district in Central Tokyo once famous for its many electronic shops. In more recent years, it has become the center of Japan’s otaku culture with many shops and establishments now devoted to selling anime and manga goods as well as game related stuff such as Final Fantasy and Granblue items. Jan’s an avid gamer and we both love anime and read manga translated into English online, it’s a no-brainer why Akihabara was a must visit for both of us.
The things included here are mainly from our own experience of spending a day in the area — from our own wanderings and from the short guided tour we had booked where we had our own personal “maid” bringing us to some of the important parts within the district.
*A photo of us with our maid tour guide Lisa.
A huge 9-floor electronics store building. They have cameras, camera accessories, cell phones, PCs, and much more — including heated toilet seats! They also have non-electronic stuff like toy model figures, games, bag and clothes. The good thing about the store is that it has a huge array of available options to choose from, however, it is to be noted that stuff here is not necessarily cheaper so it’s best to take note of the price of the item you want in your home country and then compare it to the price on offer when you get to the store. For those that don’t have any plan to shop, it’s still a worthwhile place to quickly check out while you’re in Akihabara.
This Yodobashi Floor Guide will give you more detailed information on what you can expect to see on each floor of the building.
2. Radio Kaikan
This is a commercial building that used to have lots of electronic shops selling radio components and parts. Now with the Otaku culture becoming more established in Akihabara, more and more stores selling otaku goods have set up shop here.
These display cases on the 2nd-floor show pre-loved figures on sale. The owners of said figures rent the display cases and put them here for other people to buy.
Another interesting thing to check out is the Volks Doll Point Shop located on the 8th-floor of Radio Kaikan. This shop sells highly customizable dolls (and by that I mean you can customise every single body part of your doll such as their face, eyes, hands, arms.. etc) which is quickly gaining popularity as a hobby for Japanese adults.
It’s not a cheap hobby/collection either with some of the dolls costing up to thousands of yen especially if they have been patterned after very famous anime or fictional characters such as Saber from the anime Fate Stay Night or Hatsune Miku (not in photos).
Another popular building in Akihabara selling an array of anime, manga, and game-related otaku goods is Kotobukiya. It’s also a Tokyo Otaku Mode certified shop which means that it has been recognized for selling high quality, official otaku goods.
4. Space Potato
It feels like stepping back into the past when you’re inside this retro video game store full of old-school game consoles and games, and they even have a vintage game arcade that has a snack bar for those wanting to play all day. Haha!
5. @home Maid Cafe
Maid Cafes are very popular in Japan, particularly in Akihabara where the very first maid cafe was established. In maid cafes, waitresses dress up as “maids” and treat customers as “masters”. @home cafe is one of the biggest maid cafes in Akihabara.
6. Gachapon Kaikan
Gachapon Kaikan is one of the biggest gachapon shops in Akihabara with around 500 gachapon machines inside the store.
Gachapons are coin-operated toy dispensers or vending machines. Each machine will have a specific category (ex. keychains of anime characters) but you won’t be able to choose a particular item inside the machine, instead the machine gives you one at random after you load the coin in. More information on gachapons can be found here.
7. Pablo Mini
There’s a Pablo stall in Akihabara that sells mini Pablo cheese tarts. Sooo cute! Sooo good!
This 8-floor building is packed full of anime, manga and game-related goods. Any self-proclaimed otaku would not want to miss going into this building. This link here gives detailed information on what you can find on each floor of the building.
* They even have a Belle Nendroid for sale!
* A whole lot of manga for sale! Desperately wished I knew how to read Kanji.
Animate is Japan’s largest retail chain for anime goods with over 120 stores domestically as well as 4 international branches. The 7-floor Animate shopping center we went to in Akihabara was one dedicated entirely to female anime/manga fans (to Jan’s utter disappointment and my delight) Haha! For female otakus out there, this place is a must visit. Haha!
*Prince of Tennis anime OSTs availabe in the store. Wanted to buy them all. Used to be a huge fan of this anime. Haha.
10. Final Fantasy Eorzea Cafe
One of the many themed cafes in Akihabara… this place is amazing! The interior of the restaurant is well decorated and the food and drinks are themed after the Final Fantasy game as well. Also, they don’t just look good… they taste really good too! Bookings are recommended which can be done online at the Voyagin website here here.
There are lots of other things to do and places to visit in Akiba (shorter nickname for Akihabara). Unfortunately, we just did not have enough time to explore them all. Maybe next time we’ll get a chance to check them out… if we get to go back 😉