· ~Anime capital of the World!~ ·
Akihabara is the place a lot of people picture in their heads when they think of Tokyo. Anime, music, and games line the walls of stores that are jam packed side by side from each other. If you’ve ever played Akiba’s Trip, then it’s exactly like that!…….Well, minus the otaku stripping zombies.
Akihabara, or Akiba for short, is located in central Tokyo and is honestly the most wonderful center for pop culture in all of Japan. The kanji for the station is 秋葉原 and you can take quite a few train lines there, including the Yamanote Line.
Never mind the blurry guy silhouette, there’s anime to be seen!
Fun facts about Akiba
- The first maid cafe, Cure Maid Cafe, opened up in 2001 and is still running to this day
- Japan’s top idol group, AKB48 started in Akihabara! There are many other idol groups that perform all over Akihabara, hoping to make it big just like AB48
- The main street, Chuo Dori, is closed for pedestrian traffic on Sundays during peak times
- It’s actually frowned upon to cosplay in Akihabara unless there’s an event going on. I know, it saddened me too. But it’s a very grey area because there’s girls dressed in lolita, guys in visual kei, etc. But most people are dressed Tokyo normal (aka dressier than you’d think)
Our ice cream parfaits at Maid Dreamin
- Food Court on the top floor of Yodobashi Camera – Just like train station restaurants are surprisingly the best places to eat in Japan, the same principle is applied to this floor of restaurants. Whether you want a bowl of ramen, tonkatsu, or cheap, conveyor belt sushi, your tummy will thank you after a long days walk. Trust me 🙂
- GoGo Curry – Coco Curry’s main competitor, in my opinion. It’s delicious, cheap, and will get you back out on the anime prawl!
- Maid Dreamin – I really think everyone should experience a maid cafe at some point, but I will warn you that somehow, even though all the prices seem small, they add up until you’re confused at your bill. I don’t remember what charges were all included, but there was probably a table charge, the parfaits were already pretty expensive and then when asked if we wanted pictures, we ended up taking three for each person and getting charged for each one. After a meager 20 minute visit, the bill was almost a hundred dollars but we probably could’ve paid attention better to prices. It was really cute though 🙂
- Gundam Cafe – I’ll admit, I have not been to this one but I really wanted to! You can see the menu from outside and I’ve always been a big Gundam/Mecha fan. Actually, there is quite a lot of anime themed cafes that will pop up temporarily. There was a Sailor Moon Crystal cafe during my stay and I DID ATTEMPT TO GO but I was without GPS at the time so I was terribly, terrible lost for about two hours. There was also a Prince of Tennis cafe when the latest season came out and when I found out…a part of me really died.
Ita Color’s Yellow — an anime nail shop right inside the entrance of Don Quijote in Akihabara!
- Don Quijote – Like the Wal-Mart of Japan, except not. Don Quijote’s always got your back no matter what, but the Akihabara branch obviously has A LOT more anime merchandise than any of the other locations, with good prices too. There’s the typical 6 or so stories high but at the top of this baby is a game arcade!
- Animate – I can’t even express my love for Animate. Some people might be more loyal to Mandarake because you can get cheaper used merchandise, but Animate is like the glowy new toy of the anime world. I’ve been to the one in Ikebukuro as well and it just never fails to impress. 6+ floors of crazy amazing anime, manga, DVD’s, music, merchandise and even manga drawing supplies! I was so surprised and happy, I immediately bought a sketchpad, pens and INSANELY CHEAP COPIC MARKERS. No they weren’t Ciao, no they weren’t on sale. Copics are from Japan and are cheaper than the Prismacolor marker sets I had gotten here in the U.S.
- Labi, Yodobashi Camera, Akky, etc – Akihabara isn’t called “Electric Town” for nothing! It’s just as much sprawling with electronics as it is anime but to me they go hand in hand. Akky is more foreign electronic friendly, but all of them have the typical 5+ floors packed full of computers, electronics, cameras, and home electronics. It’s fun to look at, if anything.
- Mandarake – As stated before, Mandarake is pretty awesome if you’re wanting to spread your money farther by getting second hand goods. Things can still be in seemingly new condition and it’s still quite a deal! I usually save my Mandarake trip for when I’m in Nakano, which is the 2nd largest anime shopping district in Tokyo.
Chuo Dori itself – Even if you don’t have much money to spend, just going to Akihabara during peak times is incredible in itself. The first time I went, I didn’t really buy much because it just took so long to look through everything! The main anime streets weren’t even as outstretching as I had pictured it but every wall is plastered with a million advertisements, every shop has every inch of the store packed full with merch, and it’s fun seeing all the themed maid cafe’s girls advertising. There’s regular maids, cosplay maids, traditional-ish Japanese maids, etc.
I just love the daily Japanese life mixed in with anime everywhere. It’s something you don’t get to see in America!
Advertisements – EVERYWHERE. My absolute favorite part about Akihabara was the mass amounts of ads for anime I’ve never even heard of! I only wished I could read Japanese because after 3 floors of manga, I really was starting to get frustrated. All the art was beautiful, the story lines (from what I could read) sounded incredible, and Japanese manga is usually 400-500 yen!!! Meanwhile Barnes and Noble is charging us $12-14 for some nowadays…
These Gachapon babies are key for bringing small presents back home. They’re good quality for how cheap they are!
Me and Andrew also got to try virtual reality at one of the video game/computer stores. A lot of the shops are really open, the doors will be open or they may even have garage door like shutters that they have pulled up. The video game store was completely open and it was obvious that you were free to play any of their games!
I was embarrassed how long it took me to spell ラブラブ (rabu rabu aka love love) because I can never remember katakana!!
And there’s my recommendations on Akihabara spots! It’s just a really fun, thriving district and it’s a sight to see no matter how big or little of an otaku you are. I hope that one day you’ll get to see it for yourself! I honestly really want to return to Tokyo, if only to take decent photos for you guys. Thanks so much for reading and let me know in the comments what you’re favorite thing about Akihabara is!!