4 districts to visit for anime lovers
Go on an anime tour around Tokyo.
· 46 min read
Anime, or Japanese animation, has become a cultural phenomenon that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, and is now an integral part of Japan's identity. Whether or not you consider yourself an anime geek, here are some places in Tokyo that you should check out to experience the anime culture in Japan!
Akihabara, also known as Akiba, is probably the first place that comes to mind when you think about anime in Tokyo. Known as the center of the anime and manga culture in Tokyo, Akihabara is where you can expect to splurge on anime merchandise, mangas, and video games. You might also be able to find rare collectibles in some of these shops!
We recommend that you spend some time window shopping before making an actual purchase, as some of the items can be found in multiple shops at cheaper prices. After getting an idea of what you would like, you could head to some of the second-hand shops at Mandarake complex or Radio Kaikan to see if you the merchandise are available at a lower price — note that these items in the second-hand shops are usually pre-owned and come without boxes, but they are generally of good quality.
For those who are less interested in anime merchandise and mangas, Akihabara also has many maid cafes, where customers are served by waitresses dressed in maid costumes. The maid cafes are rather unique to Japanese pop culture and is worth experiencing even if you do not consider yourself an otaku (anime and manga geek).
🚶♂️How to get there: Take the train to Akihabara JR Station or Akihabara Tokyo Metro
🕤 Opening hours: Opening hours vary from shop to shop, but we recommend that you visit Akihabara after 1pm.
While not as well known as Akihabara, Ikebukuro is also a hub for anime and manga culture in its own way. Ikebukuro appeals more towards females. At Otome Street at Ikebukuro, there are various shops that sell merchandise and games. At these shops, you will likely be able to find items related to otome games (games with a romance theme that targets the female audience), male seiyuu (voice actors), or shounen-ai (Boys Love). It is also a great place for those who are interested in collecting doujinshi (fan art). You can expect to find more butler cafes at Ikebukuro.
If you are at Ikebukuro, be sure to also visit Animate’s flagship store, which will be expanded in Spring 2023 to become one of the largest anime stores globally. Animate is a brand that is familiar to most anime lovers, and the renewed flagship store is said to contain interactive experiences and services alongside the typical anime and manga-related merchandise and apparel. There would also be an event hall, gallery, theater space, and a café.
Sunshine City at Ikebukuro also has shops of many popular franchises, like Disney, Marvel, Sanrio, and One Piece. There is also a Ghibli shop and the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo — which is one of the largest Pokemon Centers in Japan.
🚶♂️How to get there: Take the train to Ikebukuro Station
🕤 Opening hours:
Sunshine City: General hours are from 10am - 8pm, but could vary for individual stores. Animate Ikebukuro: 11am - 9pm on Monday - Friday; 10am - 8pm on Saturday - Sunday
Located about 40 minutes away from central Tokyo, Odaiba is a man-made island that was initially built as a defense fortress in the 1800s. It has since been transformed into a popular tourist destination with many entertainment options. One of the main attractions of Odaiba is the life-sized Unicorn Gundam Statue outside the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. DiverCity Tokyo Plaza also features shops of various character goods, such as the Gundam Base Tokyo, the Hello Kitty shop and the Doraemon Future Department Store.
If you grew up watching Digimon, you would also be interested to know that Odaiba has many real-life locations of Digimon. Some of the most notable ones would be the Odaiba Elementary School, the Daiba Park, and the Fuji TV station.
For those who are not interested in anime, Odaiba also has other options such as Legoland or the Madam Tussauds wax museum. There is also a museum that is dedicated to Takoyaki! The DiverCity Tokyo Plaza also has many other shopping options with a variety of both Japanese and international brands. You can also enjoy a good view of the Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge from DECKS Tokyo Beach. Also consider a day trip to both Odaiba and Asakusa via cruise to enjoy panoramic views of Tokyo.
🚶♂️How to get there:
Take the Yurikamome Line from Shimbashi. The Yurkiamome Line makes a loop of the island, so you can decide where to stop depending where you want to visit. Alternatively, take the Rinkai Line to Tokyo Teleport Station near DiverCity.
🕤 Opening hours: DiverCity Tokyo Plaza: 11am - 8pm on Monday - Friday; 10am - 9pm on Saturday - Sunday
Nakano Broadway is a shopping complex located in Nakano, and is somewhat like a scaled-down, indoor version of Akihabara. Featured in the video game Digimon: Cyber Sleuth, Nakano Broadway has four levels of shopping, with the second and third levels focused mainly on shops related to manga, anime, video games, or Japanese idols.
If you are looking for a place to buy second-hand, retro merchandise, the Nakano Broadway complex would be the go-to place. From small, independent stores to larger chain stores, Nakano Broadway has a large proportion of second-hand shops, which also means you are more likely to be able to find some rare, old-school collectibles here at Nakano, and likely at a better price. For those who are into Gashapon (Japanese capsule toys), there are also many of such shops at Nakano.
For those who are not into anime, the first floor of Nakano Broadway also has shops selling other vintage items and clothes; and the basement floor sells groceries like fruits and vegetables. There are also many food options in the street and alleys around Nakano Broadway.
🚶♂️How to get there: Take the train to Nakano Station and take the North Exit to the Nakano Sun Mall entrance
🕤 Opening hours: Opening hours of individual shops vary, but we recommend that you visit between 1pm - 6pm for the full experience
Bonus: Tokyo Solamachi
Tokyo Solamachi is a shopping and entertainment complex located at the base of the Tokyo Skytree. The complex features over 300 shops, restaurants, and attractions, and has many shops featuring Japan’s most popular character franchises. From Hello Kitty and Pokemon, to Crayon Shinchan, Ultraman, and Kirby, the Tokyo Salamachi is a one-stop shopping complex if you were interested in these franchises. There is also a Jump Shop, where you would be able to get merchandise from the most popular Shonen Jump mangas.
🚶♂️How to get there: Take the train to Tokyo Skytree Station or Oshiage Station
🗺️ Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 131-0045
🕤 Opening hours: 10am - 9pm daily