Anime (アニメ), Manga (漫画), video games, consoles, electronics, everything you can think of is readily available here! The rise of the Otaku culture only became this big quite recently, within the last decade. Before, it was mostly only about electronics.
With this increase in popularity come redevelopments like the upgraded Akihabara Station (秋葉原駅) for example.
Akihabara consists of one main street called Chuo Dori and multiple smaller side streets. On Sundays, Chuo Dori is closed to all traffic from 13:00 – 18:00 (17:00 from October through March), the crowd just gets bigger there!
Akihabara - a nerd's paradise
For many people, Akihabara will likely be one of the first places of Tokyo they hear of, including myself. Luckily I did get the chance to go there last year and it was really like you would imagine a geek-mecca to feel like.
So, definitely recommended for every anime/manga/video game/whatever fan! Even if you’re normally not into these kind of things, playing a wacky game in one of their arcades or visiting a goofy café can be fun as well!
Now, on to the list of 5 amazing things to do here, truthfully cherishing Akihabara’s nature:
1. Maid café
You have probably heard of these. Cute girls dressed up us French maids fulfilling your every wish (well, not EVERY wish). If that sounds like something you would enjoy, Akihabara is the place to be.
There is honestly an abundance of these cafes here and if you can’t find one on your own, there a good number of maids advertising on the streets handing out flyers.
The cafes’ menu is mostly similar to that of a normal café (although some may offer special items) but the thing that sets them apart is the interaction with its customers.
Maids will truthfully treat you as their master and will have conversations and play games with you.
Maid café is the place for everyone to get a feel of being an important figure.
Some cafes also have English speaking staff!
Now, you can find these in other places as well but Akihabara is quite packed with them. Arcades are a very fun place to spend your unplanned time in.
The games usually range from 100-200 Yen (0,77€/$0.91 – 1,54€/$1.82; exchange rates as of September 2018) and can be anything from rhythm games all the way to authentic race car games. Also, you can almost always find these UFO catchers that are often displayed in anime.
It can be a little hard to win anything out of them because of their design but if you happen to win, it feels like a real accomplishment ;).
Arcades can be found all over the place in Akihabara. Just walking along Chuo Dori will surely lead you to one!
3. Anime/mange related stores
This is where most of the magic happens. You’ll find shops like these literally around every corner. It is no exaggeration to call Akihabara the mecca of geek culture, because it really is!
Manga, posters, figurines, shirts, all kinds of merchandise of just about every franchise that exists (older ones will probably be a little harder to find though).
Mandarake, a worldwide operating store for Otaku goods, has a large branch here. It’s open every day of the week from 12:00 – 20:00. They also sell manga or figurines that are more on the rare side and not easily found somewhere else.
These stores are most likely the main motivation of many people coming here. And I’ll tell you, you won’t be disappointed!
4. Manga café
Manga cafes are a great treasure. They not only offer you the combination of reading manga (from their sizable collection) and slurping coffee, but some of them also allow you to stay overnight!
This can be a cheap alternative if you don’t want to spend the money on hotels every night (which can be quite expensive in Tokyo). Keep in mind that it will most likely be similar to a Capsule Hotel (more on that in a later post) with shared bathroom utilities.
If you don’t mind that and want to combine the stay with the relaxing atmosphere of a café right next to you, this is the perfect opportunity.
Other than that, the Manga kissa (short for kissaten (喫茶店)) is a nice place to take a break from the dynamic and hectic pace of Akihabara.
5. Electronics Shops
Besides Otaku goods, Akihabara also offers a wide range of electronic stores where you can buy all kinds of stuff. Some even have old consoles in top condition available (some only work within Japan though due to technical configurations so be careful).
Here’s a list of some shops in the area:
This branch has 6 stores in Akihabara offering all kinds of electronics used and new.
Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Yamada Denki mainly offers products all about the computer and other household items.
Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Huge store offering pretty much anything from the electronic world. Also has tax-free items!
In addition, there are restaurants within this giant complex.
It’s located east of Akihabara Station, unlike most others.
Hours: 9:30 – 22:00
This store focuses more on the realm of game and hobby electronics as well as other lifestyle goods.
Hours: 10:00 – 19:00
All of these stores operate every day of the week.
How to get to Akihabara
Akihabara Station is a major stop of the JR Yamanote Line, which circulates between many of Tokyo’s bigger stations.
From Tokyo Station:
Board the JR Yamanote Line for about 3 minutes and 140 Yen (1,08€/$1.27).
If you are even slightly interested in anime/manga/games/electronics you should definitely come here.
I mean, if you belong to that spectrum and are interested in Japan, you have probably already heard of Akihabara before.
This article was meant to show just what exactly you can do here to enjoy your time. I hope it was helpful!
For those not particularly interested in those kind of things: Akiba (short for Akihabara) also houses other hobbies as well as some special dining opportunities.
Or perhaps you are curious to find out more about Japan’s wacky side of things? It really feels like entering this small fantasy world within the heart of Tokyo that you won’t find anywhere else (at least not to this extent).
As always: Go and see for yourself! That’s one of the best approaches that have lead me to awesome discoveries in the past.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it!