Akihabara Guide: Exploring the Colorful District
The mecca of all things anime, Akihabara is where otakus flock for an extensive selection of anime goodies. Aside from it being the go-to-spot for anime lovers, Akihabara is also teeming with department stores filled with different kinds of electronics you’d want to take home. Take note though: Japan’s voltage might be different from where you live, so it’s best to buy a voltage transformer just to be safe!
What is Akihabara known for?
The simplest answer is basically the first paragraph summarized in three words: anime and electronics. It’s not dubbed as ‘Electric Town’ for nothing! While it may sound normal for Tokyo cities to house anime goodies and electronics, Akihabara is the best district for those two. As soon as you get off the Akihabara train station, you’ll be greeted by a huge consumer electronics store where you can try most, if not all products.
More attractions in Akihabara include the three big SEGA Arcades along the main road. You can play numerous video games and claw machines. Be wary though, next thing you know you might have already blown off all your yen at the arcade! It’s that addicting. We’ll get into more detail later on–but that’s Akiba in a nutshell.
How do you get to Akihabara station?
Akihabara Station is along the tourist-friendly JR Yamanote Line. Other alternative lines are the Keihin-Tohoku Line, Seibu Line, and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
The station has four gates in total—Electric Town, Central, Atre1, and Showa-dori. The Electric Town exit would be the most recommended one for tourists, as you’ll be fully immersed in all of Akiba’s shining glory upon exiting. Both North and South exits are equally interesting, but here’s a run-down on the major spots on each exit:
North Exit: Electronics store giants BIC Camera, Tsukumo PC, Sofmap Akiba, AKB48 Cafe
South Exit: Yamada Denki, Labi, Radio Kaikan, Laox, SEGA
What to do in Akihabara
It’s time to fully immerse yourself in anime, video games—welcome to Akihabara!
Shopping in Akihabara: Electronics and Anime Heaven!
Explore the latest electronics at gigantic Yodobashi Camera
1-1 Kanda-hanaoka-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0028
You’ll find pretty much anything and everything related to electronics. Phones, cameras, consumer electronics—you name it! This 8-story department store is definitely an overwhelming experience with all the different items sprawled all over. If you’re lucky, you can score cheap phone cases, mini-fans (when you’re visiting Tokyo during the humid summer—this is a must-have), and hefty film cameras. You can also check out clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags on the 7th-floor for something different.
After going through all 8 stories, you can wind down for a meal on the 8th floor. There’s a variety of different dishes as this is the largest restaurant floor in Akihabara, containing over 30 restaurants.
Shop ‘til you drop at Bic Camera
4-1-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Bikku bikku bikku bik camera! That’s Bic Camera’s jingle, and you’ll most probably hear that while exploring 7 floors housing various items—from necessities, cosmetics, electronics, games, and more. Although slightly similar to what Yodabashi Camera offers, Bic Camera has a special online reservation service that travelers can utilize to reserve a product in advance. This comes in handy when you have some free time to spare prior to visiting Akiba.
Check out another electronics giant, LABI Yamada Denki
1-15-8 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021
The last of the electronics tech giant triumvirate, LABI (or Yamada Denki) has 6 floors of cameras, peripherals, computers, second-hand electronics, and other specialty items. Their glass escalators are specifically evident from the outside, so it’s not that hard to miss!
Tourist-friendly Akky One offers tax-free items
1-15-3, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021
If you’re about to buy souvenirs, head to Akky—a tourist-friendly shop with bilingual staff! Akky One contains a wide variety of items like cooking appliances, cheap watches, souvenirs, folk crafts, and cutlery. It’s a tax-free shop so you don’t have to worry about extra charges too. You might see three Akky stores while strolling through Akihabara—quick tip, Akky One is the biggest of the three!
Marvel at the many anime-related goods at Radio Kaikan
1-15-16, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Radio Kaikan doesn’t actually have any relation to radios—sorry to disappoint the radio and music readers! This hobby store is actually, in fact, one of Akihabara’s iconic landmarks and your go-to store for anime goods! Dubbed as an ‘anime business center’, Radio Kaikan houses different anime-shops guaranteed to satiate your otaku heart! Grab all sorts of different manga, toys, collectibles, and figurines. It may seem like an endless maze as it’s 10-stories high, but it’s an enjoyable experience overall.
Endless manga mania awaits at Mandarake
3-11-12 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021
Mandarake is an intricately categorized complex that’s beyond its identity as a secondhand manga store. Its 8 floors are carefully sorted out, with each floor having its own theme, so it’s easy to systematically check out each aisle!
Visit a capsule toy sanctuary, Gachapon Kaikan
3-15-5, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021
You’ve probably seen gachapon or capsule-vending machines while exploring other parts of Tokyo. Gachapon Kaikan is a store that’s literally just…capsule machines. Gachapon Kaikan carries more than 400 machines to choose from that change every month. Toys range from cute toys to the absurd—like this Shiba peeing. It’s cute though, isn’t it? Kind of a conversation opener as well if you decide to use it as a keychain!
Tread lightly, though—you might spend too much gachapon after gachapon!
For the audiophiles: Treat your ears to new earphones at e-Earphone!
4F Kanda Eight Bldg, 4-6-7 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
This isn’t along the main road, but this shop is worth visiting. e-Earphone is Japan’s number one headphone retailer, and you can find loads of different brands here! Although densely packed and crowded during peak hours, there’s a wide array of headphones, IEMS. headphone amplifiers, cables, and much more—perfect for the music lover!
What to experience in Akihabara
Aside from shopping, Akihabara is home to various experiences that shape its subculture. From maid cafes, arcades, and themed restaurants—there’s probably something odd and interesting for you to discover.
Experience life as a ‘master’ at maid cafes
Sumiyoshi BLDG.6F 3–16–17 Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 101–0021 Japan
These maid cafes are easy to spot in Akihabara as it takes its attributes from anime, the main subculture of the area. Maid cafes are an experience in itself, as waitresses are dressed up as French maids—you can spend time with them too since you’re their master after all! The largest maid cafe in the country is Maidreamin. Enjoy decorated drinks, chatting with the kawaii maids, and if you’re lucky, the maids perform every two hours.
Play it all out at SEGA
1-11-11, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021
As previously mentioned, there are three huge SEGA buildings along the main road. There’s no right or wrong SEGA building to enter—they’re all equally exciting with games on every corner. Try your luck on claw machines, fighting games, driving games, and even VR games! The staff are friendly and can assist you if you’re not sure how to operate the machine. Totally understandable due to the language barrier! If you don’t have loose change, there’s a coin exchanger on every floor.
Check out warrior-robot themed grub at Gundam Cafe
1-1 Kanda Hanaokacho
If you’re a fan of the famous Gundam series—this cafe is for you! The cafe’s specialties include adorably decorated Gundam-themed dishes. The walls are sprawled with Gundam art and themes, plus, you can shop character goods and souvenirs from the gift shop!
Listen to your favorite J-Pop tunes in Heavy Rotation at AKB48 Cafe and Shop
1-1 Kanda-Hanaokacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Another themed cafe and situated next to the Gundam Cafe, the AKB48 Cafe and Shop is a hip venue for fans of the famous Japanese idol group, AKB48. Fans of the girl group can fully immerse themselves in the world of J-pop. The cafe features music and snippets from AKB48 performances, and of course, colorful food! Next to the shop is the AKB48 Theater, where the girls get to perform. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to snag some tickets, so the cafe is where unlucky fans flock. Still, though, it’s still a rewarding visit if you’re a huge fan!
Old meets new at VR Ninja Dojo
Takehashi Building, 2-15-15 Uchikanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo
Ever dreamed of being a ninja? How about being a ninja in Japan itself? VR Ninja Dojo is an interactive experience like no other—it’s a bit far from Akihabara Station but you won’t experience the tech-ninja life elsewhere! Japan takes VR to the next level at VR Ninja Dojo. This ‘interactive theatre’ lets you wear a ninja costume, trains you, and brings you to the virtual reality world to battle out the evils! Take note that VR Ninja Dojo doesn’t allow walk-ins, so make sure to secure your reservation!
Experience rich culture at Tokyo’s oldest shrine, the Kanda Myojin Shrine
2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku
Yes, Akihabara also houses a shrine albeit being an electronics shopping district. If you want to escape the bustle of the district, Kanda Myojin is a peaceful 9-minute walk from the station. The oldest shrine in Tokyo, Kanda Myojin Shrine is a historic Shinto shrine where locals pray for triumphant businesses, good health, and happy marriages.
Dance the night away to your favorite anime songs at otaku club, Mogra
3-11 Akihabara, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0006, Japan
In the mood to party in Akihabara? There aren’t that many clubs in Akihabara, but one that piques locals and tourists alike is Mogra. Since you’re in Akiba, the club plays a mix of anime, vocaloid, idol, and game music—something that you don’t hear in normal clubs! Dance the night away to your favorite anime songs and jive with anime-loving locals as well.
What to eat in Akihabara
Go bananas with Go! Go! Curry
You can never go wrong with curry. Go! Go! Curry’s distinct storefront is easy to spot–the bright yellow facade with a photo of a giant gorilla catches your eye while walking. Go! Go! Curry is an economical choice for those who want to taste authentic Japanese curry. The restaurant serves Kanazawa curry, which is characterized by a thick, dark sauce. They have different varieties of curry, from pork katsu, shrimp, to world champion curry (this one is just really big). Like most Japanese fast food restaurants, there are no waiters around so you have to input your order in a vending machine. Their curry is filling and cheap—a perfect combination!
Treat yourself to a roast beef tower at Roast Beef Ono
Tsuchiya Building B1F, 1-2-3 Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Get ready to fill your tummies at Roast Beef Ono which serves sumptuous roast beef bowls. The beef bowl once served is almost reminiscent of a towering mountain, with an egg yolk as the lava, and underneath all the beef is Japanese rice. Puncture the egg and that’s where your tender journey begin—it’s a feast for the senses!
Slurp your soba at 130+ year-old Kanda Matsuya
1-13 Kanda-suda-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0041
A 6-minute walk from the station, Kanda Matsuya is one of Tokyo’s esteemed soba restaurants. It’s been around since 1884, which really says something! Their handmade soba noodles are mouthwatering and the ambiance really puts you in the mood to slurp the noodles away. A no-frills restaurant, aside from soba itself, they serve simple side dishes such as nori and Ebi tempura—this is to put all your focus on the immaculate soba noodles.
Head to Tonkatsu Hamashou for crisp cutlets
8F Yodobashi Akiba, 1-1 Kanda Hanaokacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0028
One of the restaurants inside the expansive 8th floor of Yodobashi Camera Akiba, Tonkatsu Hamashou specializes in crisp traditional cutlet, which is juicy and crunch with every bite. Order a tonkatsu set and pair it with their savory sauce. Just like other tonkatsu restaurants, they offer unlimited servings of rice and cabbage so this is a perfect restaurant for a filling meal.
A traditional sushi experience awaits at Ginzo
Ginzo Sushi is a laid-back, simple, and relaxing sushi restaurant with an inviting exterior. It’s not gimmicky or loud like most reasonably-priced sushi shops, in fact, it almost looks like one of the high-end ones with its traditional aura. Ginzo serves the freshest sushi that pack a flavorful taste in your mouth.
There’s always something to do in every corner of vibrant Akihabara. Non-anime and anime fans alike are bound to enjoy the endless adventures and things to do in the buzzing shopping district with its versatile shops, experiences, and restaurants. Ikimasho!