Tokyo is a hub of business, technology, fashion trends, and Japanese pop culture that attracts more and more attention from all over the world. Akihabara in Tokyo is the center of otaku culture where many anime and gaming spots are located.
In this article, we are talking about what otaku culture is and the best otaku things to do in Tokyo!
- What is “Otaku”?
- Otaku Shopping Spots
- Kawaii / Anime Themed Cafes
- Otaku Spots for Families
- K-pop and Japanese Idols
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Other articles you might like
What is “Otaku”?
Otaku (オタク) is often translated as a nerd or geek in English, but it originally refers to people who love Japanese pop culture such as Anime and Manga (comic books). Now it is generally considered that this word exclusively applies to those who have a strong interest or are obsessed with particular things.
So there are several types of otaku, for example, anime/manga/game otaku, idol otaku and history otaku.
You should be careful when you use this word to describe someone though as some people might think it is rude. While the concept of Otaku is getting more common among people compared to a decade ago, some people still have negative or confusing impressions of this term.
Otaku Shopping Spots
There are a variety of shops selling anime and manga products in Tokyo. Some shops can be enjoyable only for a couple of coins and less than 30 min whereas others will take hours from your time. You can choose the best spot depending on your interests and budgets!
Akihabara Gachaponkan is a popular Otaku spot among foreign tourists who visit Akihabara, which is known as Otaku mecca with a unique atmosphere. Gachapon or Gacha-Gacha refers to a machine that sells a variety of goods and toys coming out with a small plastic capsule. It generally costs ¥100 – 300 yen, and you can’t see what you will get until you insert a coin and take the capsule out from the machine. Akihabara Gachaponkan boasts 500 to 600 Gachapon machines that are regularly replaced every month.
From anime characters to weird toys (funny animals, traffic lights, cars etc ), you can easily spend hours exploring the unique gachapon!
11am – 8pm (Weekdays) 11am – 7pm (Sun./ National holiday)
the Gundam Base
Gundam Base is a large entertainment complex located in the Odaiba area. It attracts many Gundam fans from all over the world. The facility mainly consists of four zones: Shop zone with the world-class selection of Gundam products, Builders Zone allowing visitors to work on the assembly process of Gundam model kits purchased on site, don’t miss a chance to watch the production process of Gundam kits at Factory Zone, and join exciting events at Event Zone!
11am – 8pm (Weekdays) 10am – 8pm (Weekends)
Animate holds a stable reputation as one of the largest chain shops specialized in Otaku products in Japan. Among Otaku people in Japan, they are widely recognized as the first place to visit when they are looking for something related to their favorite anime or manga!
They have more than 100 locations that can be found in all 47 prefectures around Japan! They sell a variety of comic books and original products that are mainly featured with the latest anime and manga!
KIDDY LAND is a fantastic shopping spot located in the Harajuku area. The catchy name attracts even world-famous celebrities who are looking for Japanese famous character’s goods. You can find a large collection of products that include Hello Kitty, Sanrio characters, Doraemon, Ghibli characters, and much more! Some products can be exclusively found only in Japan, which could be a memorable gift to take back to your country!
11am – 7pm
Mandarake is a unique chain shop that collects anime, manga and idol products for any otaku! There are several locations in Japan. They often have vintage items and also some items from abroad, so there is a high chance that you can encounter the nostalgic items in the shop! You might be overwhelmed by the number of items and by some extreme items if you are not familiar with anime/ otaku culture in Japan.
It’s one of the most popular spots for otaku culture in Tokyo that is located in Nakano. It’s a big shopping complex where many anime and game related small shops are located.
Anime and game figurines, manga books, idol merchandise, CDs, video games and more weird items can be found. There are five floors in the building, otaku item shops are on the second to the third floor and on the ground floor clothing shops and vintage shops are located. On the basement level it’s a marketplace where many locals come for grocery shopping. This place is a unique combination among locals and otaku, you will enjoy the unique atmosphere there.
Kawaii / Anime Themed Cafes
There are a variety of themed cafes in Tokyo. Each of them features unique concepts and offers a range of services such as unique menu and drinks. Many cafes have English menus that help foreign customers to choose what to eat from a variety of dishes! It is a perfect spot for everyone who wants to try otaku culture in a casual atmosphere!
Maid café is one of the most popular themed cafes that can be found in popular areas in Tokyo especially in Akihabara, Shibuya and Harajuku. There girls dressed in cute costumes called “Maid” (メイド) welcome and serve the customers friendly. In maid café, customers generally can enjoy cute dishes that can be photogenic. For example, maid girls try to draw adorable pictures such as a heart or animal face on Omurice (Japanese dish made with rice and omelet) with ketchup! Some cafes also offer entertaining performances by maid girls such as dancing and singing.
Alice in Wonderland Café in Shinjuku
Alice in Wonderland Café in Shinjuku is a unique themed café located in the Shinjuku area. The interior of the café features the world of the famous picture book “Alice in Wonderland”. You will be encountered by famous scenes from the book that takes you to the magical world with a variety of dishes. They also offer special course meals on special occasions such as Halloween and Christmas. It is a perfect spot to experience the unique things to do in Tokyo, especially if you like Kawaii culture!
11:30am – 2pm (lunch) 4pm – 10pm (dinner)
Cafe Zenon & Zenon SAKABA
Cafe Zenon&Zenon SAKABA allows you to experience both otaku culture and nightlife in Tokyo at the same time. Nestled in the Kichijoji area, it plays a role as a community space for those who come to talk about their favorite anime and manga with other pop culture lovers. It is run by “Zenon”, a famous manga publishing company which in known for Hokutono-ken (北斗の拳) and City Hunter (シティーハンター).
Enjoy casual meals at lunch time, or you can also wait for dinner time which features stunning beef and drinks. Tender beef directly delivered from Kumamoto prefecture goes well with Japanese sake and wines that are also well-selected.
11:30am – 3pm (lunch) 5pm – 11pm (dinner)
Otaku Spots for Families
Otaku spots are not something only for solo tourists. There are also a variety of tourist attractions that offer Otaku experiences for groups and families. You can have an exciting experience while letting your children learn about Japanese history or culture through informative exhibits or playing games at amusement arcades!
An 8 min walk from JR Shinjuku station takes you to Samurai Museum, an exciting facility with a large collection of Samurai armors and enjoyable experiences. Visitors are welcomed by incredible exhibits that include traditional Samurai armors and Japanese swords. Photo service is something that everyone shouldn’t miss which allows them to get a memorable photo while dressed in Samurai helmets and armor. Sword performance by professional actors is also popular among foreign tourists. It is a perfect tourist attraction not only for those who are interested in Japanese history but also for families with little children!
10:30am – 9pm
Admission ¥1,900 (adult) ¥800 (under 12) Free admission for ages 3 and under
(※temporary closed due to the Covid-19)
Sega/ Card Kingdom
Sega is a famous amusement arcade run by SEGA Cooperation. They have 4 locations in the Akihabara area as of November 2020, and each of them features different facilities and attractions. You can try a variety of games including crane games (also known as “prize games”), music video games, medal games, and Purikura (photo booth)! You can expect valuable goods such as limited version figures of famous anime characters as the prizes for crane games that are frequently replaced with new ones. Purikura is a photo sticker booth which is popular among young girls. You can choose the frame of the photo, draw pictures with colorful pencils, and decorate them with a variety of cute stamps! Card Kingdom is a unique shop specialized in dealing with a range of trading cards such as Duel Masters and Pokémon Trading cards!
K-pop and Japanese Idols
There are a number of Idol groups that are especially popular among young people in Japan. It includes both girl’s groups such as “AKB48”, and boy’s ones represented by “ARASHI”. You can easily find their goods and products sold at many shops in the Akihabara area, as the main theater of AKB group is nestled there. K-pop, on the other hand, refers to Idol groups from Korea. They are almost as popular and influential as domestic idol groups in Japan, and Shin-Okubo area (新大久保エリア) is widely recognized as a mecca for K-pop fans with a number of K-pop shops!
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
- Get Tickets of the Ghibli Museum
- Virtual Tour Ghibli Spots in Japan
Although the shops and tourist attractions we introduced above mainly target people who love and have a strong passion for Otaku culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they open exclusively to the limited people. It is still worth trying those unique experiences even if you have a little interest and knowledge in it!
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