Japan has been pioneering their own brand of animation and cartoon style for decades and it has been a worldwide phenomenon. It is only in the Japanese anime and manga genre that we see both adults and children consume the same medium of art. For the die-hard anime and manga fans, nothing comes close to the excitement and joy of traveling to the country where it all came from. Buying a ticket to Japan is the easy part, planning what anime places to visit are where things get tricky. Though there are much anime-themed tours available online, one might want to plan a trip to their own liking. Below are the most iconic places to visit in Japan as an anime lover.
The Most Famous Place for Anime in Japan
Akihabara, also known as Akiba, is one of the many regions in central Tokyo City. What sets this district apart from the others is that it has gradually come to be known as the place to be for consumer electronics products and anything anime related. Within this district, one may find rows upon rows of establishments which cater to the needs of anime and manga fans. The sheer amount of visitors who come to this district is evident in the fact that Chuo Dori, the main street of Akihabara, is closed of to traffic on Sundays, from 1 to 6 in the afternoon, to allow more people to visit the area.
The popularity of this place is also evident in the willingness of developers to refurbish their old buildings and continuously provide more for their loyal customers. Renovations have been underway for various establishments such as the expansion of Akihabara Station, the construction of new buildings, and the creation of a large building complex called Akihabara Crossfield. All of these are being done in order to make Akihabara the global center for trade, electronics, and anime. This makes Akihabara a place which continuously tries to change and improve itself and is evident in how from being a main electronics area, it has become the center of anime culture. Numerous stores such as card stores, collectible shops, and stores selling anime merchandise will tickle the fancy of any otaku.
There are also other anime related stores which are very popular in this area. These include maid cafes, stores where waitresses act as certain characters when serving customers, and manga cafes, a cafe where visitors are given a wide range of manga and anime to peruse with the addition of internet access.
Going to Akihabara is easy as one just needs to head on over to Akihabara Station. This station is accessible via the JR Yamanote Line, JR Sobu Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, Tsukuba Express, and the Hibiya Subway Line. One can also go here using the Ginza Subway Line. Just get off at the Suehirocho Stations which is located at the north end of Akihabara.
Here is a list of the most popular sights in Akihabara district.
Maid Cafes are restaurants where customers are waited on by servers who are in cosplay, typically in a French maid outfit. Asides from the typical duties of a waitress, the staff also plays out their roles by addressing customers as their masters. The maids will converse with customers and some cafes even have games to entertain guests. One will really feel like the cafe is their own home. These maid cafes have been extremely popular and are frequented by both men and women. Maid cafes are often seen and reference in manga and anime.
The undeniably most popular maid cafe would be @home cafe, pronounced as “at home cafe.” This cafe brings in all the Japanese cuteness into one wholesome experience. They treat guests with the utmost care and respect. Another popular maid cafe would have to be Maidreamin. This cafe focuses on the wild pops of color and funk, Waiters and waitresses dress up as maids and butlers while giving customers a fun experience, The real highlight of Maidreamin would have to be the secret ceremony that guests perform with the servers as a precondition to playing games. The food items here are also very cute and are often the subject of Instagram photos.
Tokyo Anime Center
The Tokyo Anime Center is arguably the most anime inspired place in all of Akihabara. It is located within the UDX building of the newly opened Akihabara Crossfield complex. This is the site of many anime events and conventions. One can enter an anime themed shop here to buy collectibles, stationery and other anime merchandise. It is open from 11 am to 7 pm and is closed on Mondays.
The Gundam Cafe, as its name suggests, is a restaurant that is themed after the popular anime franchise entitled Mobile Suit Gundam, The food here is decorated with designs that reflect the franchise and a shop, which sells Gundam merchandise, can be found inside. It is open from 10 AM to 10:30 PM.
Mandarake describes itself as the biggest shop for everything manga and anime related in the world. It started out as a humble second-hand manga shop in 1987 and has since grown into a multi-franchise business. It now has 12 branches across Japan and it’s largest branch can be found within the Akihabara district and is the best place to find rare anime and manga merchandise. It also deals in pre-loved items, It open from 12 noon to 10 PM and is open every day of the week.
Must Visit Anime Inspired Places in Tokyo, Japan
Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo
Located in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City, this megastore is the one stop place for everything Pokemon. Though there are many Pokemon stores in the country, the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo is the largest. Pokemon fanatics flock to this store for their wide range of Pokemon merchandise. What makes this store special is the presence of numerous limited release items. It is also the perfect place to buy souvenirs for visitors to Japan. Located in the large shopping mall, Sunshine City, this store houses the most extensive range of Pokemon memorabilia. There is even larger than life statues of fan favorite Pokemon such as a Pikachu riding a Mega Charizard Y and an extremely large Poke Ball. From collectibles to tableware, people will leave this store with enough merchandise to fill up their whole house. The only drawback for this store is that it gets extremely crowded. Make sure to look out for seasonal items such as an Easter Egg Pikachu or a Santa Claus Pikachu. Everyone from children to adults enjoys shopping at this store and will leave with a smile on their faces. This is officially the place to visit for fans of Pokemon. The Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo is open from Thursday to Tuesday at 10 in the morning to 8 in the evening.
Diver City Tokyo
Located on the man-made island of Odaiba, Diver City Tokyo Plaza is home to the best place to visit for fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. Mobile Suit Gundam is an anime series which revolve around giant mechanized suits of armor called Gundam. This explains the 18-meter tall robot which greets visitors at the entrance. The Gundam is modeled after the ever popular RX-78-2 Gundam and was constructed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original series back in 2009. It wasn’t originally built in this location but has found its permanent residence here. During the day there are multiple performances featuring the statue. These consists of music, parts of the robot moving, fog effects, and a lights show. At night there are two performances called the Gundam Stand at Jaburo Aware Tenchi Version and the G from the Past to the Future. There last from 10-15 mins long and have visuals that are projected on a screen to accompany the lights show. These shows are free of charge. Right across the giant robot statue is the Gundam Cafe and the Gundam Museum. Here guests may eat and shop for all kinds of Gundam goodies. Here people can buy and look at every Gunpla ever made. It will definitely be interesting to those who are collectors. Beside the Gundam, cafe is steps where performances are frequently held. Anyone from J-Pop groups to local celebrities performs here and draw in large crowds.
JWorld Tokyo is the place to be for fans of characters from the Weekly Shonen Jump serialization. Everything from One Piece to Dragon Ball Z is located here. This theme park will immerse you in all of the series contained in the serialization and many merchandise is available as well. The various attractions will bring joy to any anime fan. The great thing about this place is that it is located in Sunshine City, which incidentally is the location of the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo and the Namja Town amusement park. A visit to Sunshine City will definitely fill up one’s day and make any anime fan’s dream come true. This place is relatively cheap to enter as adults are charged 800 yen for admission and 2600 yen for unlimited access while children are charged 600 yen for admission and 2400 yen for unlimited access.
Suginami Animation Museum
This museum is one of a kind and it allows people from all generations to immerse themselves in the history of Japanese animation. The experience allows visitors to fully understand the growth of the industry and the vast amount of information presented is so comprehensive that it looks at not only the history of Japanese animation but where it will be headed. This museum is not just full of information, there are many attractions which are interactive such as an area devoted to dubbing. This museum also holds numerous workshops such as anime production and they hold talks with industry professionals. It is good to not that these workshops and talks are mostly held in the Japanese language. The museum also boasts a large library filled with anime DVDs and manga comics from which visitors can enjoy. This is the perfect place for those who want an in-depth look at the history of Japanese animation and for those who have an interest in pursuing a career in the industry.
Nakano Broadway is a very famous shopping area in Tokyo that specializes in anime related items. One can understand how popular this place is for anime fans as multiple Mandarake stores are located here. One can access Nakano Broadway by heading over to Nakano Station. This station is accessible via the Shinjuku line, Tozai Subway Line, and the JR Chuo Line. Nakano Broadway features four levels filled with shops. Most of the anime related stores are located in the second and third stores. These two levels are filled with manga, collectibles, figurines, video games, and other various otaku merchandise. The ground floor of the shopping center mostly features stores that sell fashion items such as clothes and shoes. There are also a handful of stores which sell second-hand goods here. The basement level contains an area where people can shop for groceries and various food items.
Going to Nakano Broadway is worth the trip as even outside the shopping center, there are numerous stores. This area, called the Nakano Small, is a 225-meter long corridor where a wide variety of items can be bought. Everything from jewelry to video game arcades can be found here. There are also numerous side streets which contain various food stores such as izakayas and restaurants.
These are but a fraction of the places where anime fans can visit in Japan. As this is the country where it originated from, people can go to most provinces, such as Osaka and Kyoto, and find other anime related locations. There are even real-life places in Japan which were directly reproduced or which inspired the setting in anime. For fans of the genre, Japan really is the place to visit and one will not leave the country without bringing home a ton of merchandise.