Otaku culture in Japan is more than just the stores outside of Akihabara Station! All around the city, you can find museums, bookstores, and even entire neighborhoods that celebrate Japanese manga and anime! Here’s our guide to the best places to shop, explore, and learn about your favorite movies and shows!
At an anime museum, you can learn about Japanese animation history, production, and big names in the industry!
Get transported back to your childhood when you visit the Ghibli Museum! You’ll immediately recognize Hayao Miyazaki’s distinctively whimsical aesthetic before you go through the entrance. Totoro greets you at the front gate while a life-size robot from Castle in the Sky looms over your head.
Inside, you’ll find an exhibition on the history of Japanese animation and techniques on the first floor. There is also a small theater that plays short films created by Studio Ghibli that you can’t see anywhere else. The second-floor houses temporary exhibitions on topics such as inking, food that appears in the movies, and sketch drafts.
Studio Ghibli fans can’t miss the museum, but take note that it isn’t easy to get tickets! In Japan, you can only purchase them at Lawson convenience stores one month in advance. Outside of the country, it’s possible to buy Ghibli Museum tickets online, but be wary that scalpers will sell them for above face value. The safest way to buy them internationally is through a third party like us!
With over 70 studios in the general area, the Suginami ward is the center of anime production. At the Suginami Animation Museum, you can experience how a series gets made from sketches to broadcast. Starting on the third floor, you’ll walk through informative displays that chronicle the history of anime in Japan.
The exhibition shows the latest technological advancements in Japanese animation and has examples of shows that put them to use. You can also see a wall of autographs and authentic desks that belonged to beloved writers. In another area, you can see what the life of an artist is like through interactive experiences like digital coloring and voice recording.
If you need some inspiration, you can peruse the fourth floor’s library and DVD collection. There are also temporary exhibitions that celebrate featured artists, series, or anniversaries. Depending on when you go, you might have a chance to participate in limited-time workshops on the fifth floor.
Nerima City is the birthplace of Japanese animation. At Oizumi-Gakuen Station, you’ll see statues of characters from classic shows like Astro Boy and Tomorrow’s Joe. A short walk from here is the Toei Oizumi Animation Studio, the masterminds behind Dragonball, Sailor Moon, and One Piece.
The studio opened a museum in 2018, where you’ll see precious Toei-related materials, including storyboards and celluloid pictures. The centerpiece of the museum is a panel with icons from shows and films stretching back sixty years. Tapping them brings up information about a particular series and sometimes video clips.
In other parts of the museum, you can take pictures with life-size statues and cutouts of your favorite characters. The courtyard also has blackboards that invite you to draw pictures before you leave to explore the rest of Tokyo!
Walking through Tokyo’s anime centers is an experience you can’t miss!
It’s no secret that Akihabara is the capital of otakudom. There are countless shops dedicated to anime, manga, and video games. Although it might be the first place you want to go, we recommend waiting until Sunday. The main street closes to car traffic from the afternoon to the early evening making it easier to walk around.
Among the merch shops, there are hundreds of electronics stores, from the 9-floor Yodobashi Camera to tiny one-person stalls. You can also have lunch at wacky restaurants like a maid cafe, the Gundam Cafe, or the Square Enix Cafe. Or while away the hours at one of the several-storied arcades.
Back in the 1980s, the Japanese government intended to develop the island as a residential area. But when the bubble burst, no one could afford the rent. Eventually, hotels, shopping malls, and museums opened and created one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions.
Mecha fans particularly enjoy Odaiba for its Unicorn Gundam statue outside of DiverCity and the Gundam Base store. You can also see Fuji Television Headquarters, and take in the view of Tokyo from their futuristic observatory. The island is home to Tokyo Big Sight, which holds conventions like AnimeJapan and Comiket.
If you’re an otakette© or a weabetty©, head on down to Ikebukuro. While it might not be as well known as Akihabara, Ikebukuro is a center of anime culture in its own right. Ladies will find female-friendly shops and bookstores featuring manga and doujinshi written by and catering to women.
North of the Sunshine City shopping center is Otome Road. On this street, you can browse thousands of titles, exclusive collector’s items, and games. If you’re lucky, you might stumble onto a cosplay event across from the Animate building. And if you start to feel peckish, check out the Swallowtail Cafe where handsome butlers will wait on you hand and foot.
If you want to venture off the well-beaten paths and into the “real” Tokyo, head to the Nakano neighborhood. North of the station, you’ll find the Sun Mall, which is a 225 meter-long shopping arcade. The main stretch passes boutiques, game centers, and small restaurants, and end at the Nakano Broadway shopping complex.
The ground floor specializes in second-hand shops selling clothes, shoes, and unique knick-knacks. The second and third floors have anime and idol-related stores under the Mandarake franchise. In addition to anime DVDs and manga, you can also pick up figurines, video games, consoles, and trading cards. When you leave, don’t forget to check out the tiny sidestreets of the Sun Mall, where you’ll find a variety of restaurants, izakayas, and snack bars.
You can buy manga in just about every bookstore in Japan, but if you’re looking for English versions, you’ll need patience and perseverance. Manga in Japan hardly ever gets printed in English, and most translated versions come out of North American publishing companies. However, it isn’t impossible to find it! If you love hunting, here are some locations worth checking out if you want titles in English.
Kinokuniya is one of Japan’s largest bookstore chains. Most locations have a section dedicated to books written in a foreign language where you’ll find titles about the Japanese language, Japanese history, and traveling in Japan. How many and what genres they offer varies from store to store. For the most diverse selection, head to the Takashimaya Shinjuku branch on the south side of Shinjuku Station.
This shop has one of the best collections of selected languages in the city. Along the aisles, you’ll find books in English, French, German, and more. That goes for their manga and other related reading materials. The wide array of titles include art books, history of manga books, and novels to read for your flight home.
Mandarake opened its first store in the 1980s and quickly grew into one of the largest comic book retailers in the world! Founded by manga artist Masuzo Furukawa, you can find Mandarake stores from Hokkaido to Kyushu. In Tokyo, you can find it in Akihabara, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro, but we recommend going to Nakano Broadway.
The Nakano Broadway shopping complex is home to over thirty Mandarake shops! Each one specializes in a niche genre such as magical girls, mecha, and vintage toys. Most of Mandarake’s stock is second-hand manga, and with a little digging, you’ll get unbeatable deals.
Similar to Mandarake, Book Off also specializes in second-hand goods. Book Off is part of the “Off” store chain, which includes Mode Off for clothes and Hard Off for electronics. What you can get at Book Off will depend on when and where you go, but you’re most likely to find what you’re looking for at the Akihabara store.
How many and which titles in English you’ll find are up to Lady Luck. However, the Akihabara neighborhood caters to the highest number of otaku tourists and expats in Japan. If nothing in the comic book section grabs your attention, check out the video games and figurines as well!
You can easily see where some of your favorite manga and anime characters live and hang out! Take pictures and recreate scenes when you go to these places.
Serena and the squad spend most of their time in the Azabu Juban neighborhood. The area is mostly residential but has a commercial center. It’s one of Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods and is near Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Tower. The scenery in Sailor Moon accurately depicts the roads, the station, and the shops.
Rei and her grandfather take care of the Hikawa (火川) Shrine, which is based on the Azabu Hikawa (氷川) Shrine. Note that there are several shrines in Tokyo that have similar names, so be sure to include the word “Azabu” when you look it up on your navigation app!
The Girl with the Red Shoes is a statue of a little girl with pig-tails. The artist was inspired by the nursery rhyme Red Shoes, which is about a young Japanese girl that gets adopted by a Western family.
As a whole, Kimetsu no Yaiba takes place in many cities in Japan, but there’s only one location in Tokyo—and it’s a big one. When Tanjiro heads to Tokyo for work, he winds up in the Asakusa neighborhood. It’s here where he finds Muzan Kibutsuji passing through Nakamise road.
Nakamise is a long shopping street that leads to Asakusa Sensoji—Tokyo’s most splendid temple. People from around the world come here to seek blessings of success and fortune, as well as shop for souvenirs. Nakamise is home to a 400-year-old market that sells traditional Japanese toys and sweets.
Shuwatch! Ultraman came from galaxy M78 with extraordinary powers to protect Earth and has captivated generations since the 1960s. Tsusburaya Productions, which released the first Ultraman series, used to be in the Kinuta area, near where you’ll find the Ultraman Shopping District.
Stepping out onto the plaza outside of Shoshigaya-Okura Station, a statue of Ultraman will greet you. Shoshigaya Minami, Shoshigaya, and Shoshigaya Shoshinkai are shopping streets that boast shops dedicated to Ultraman merchandise. As you walk around, you’ll see more statues of Zoffy, Ultraman, and Ultraman Jack in mid-flight over your head.
When Okabe sends the first D-mail, he finds himself alone in an empty Akihabara. He runs around Electric Town until he finds Mayuri in front of Radio Kaikan, where the time machine lodges itself.
Akihabara is famously home to several maid cafes, and you can visit the one where Mayuri and Faris Nyannyan work. In real life, it’s called Cafe Mailish, and it looks almost identical to the May Queen Nyan. Other landmarks in the neighborhood featured in the show are Akiba Shrine, where Rukako lives, and Kanda Fureai Bridge.
Most of The Boy and the Beast takes place in the fantastical world of Shibuten. But, Ren and Kumatetsu first meet in the back alleys of Shibuya. During the film, you can see lots of shots of Shibuya as Ren, now Kyuta, goes back and forth to Earth. Among them, you’ll see Shibuya Crossing, which is the busiest intersection in the world.
At the climax of the film, we see Kyuta and Kaede running away from Ichirohiko on Center-Gai shopping street. Center-Gai is where you’ll find the Mega Donkihote and the center of Shibuya’s nightlife. The final battle between Kyuta and Ichirohiko takes place in front of Yoyogi National Stadium.
When the Digidestined are on Earth, there are a lot of different places featured around the city, but most of them are in Odaiba. When you arrive on the island, you’ll easily spot the Ferris Wheel, Rainbow Bridge, and the Telecom Center, which all appeared in the background throughout the show.
There are also some real-world locations where decisive moments in the plot took place. Tokyo Big Sight is where Vamdemon held Odaiba’s residents captive during his search for the eighth child. It’s also where the AnimeJapan convention takes place in March. Near here, the iconic Fuji TV building is where the last fight with Myotismon took place.
If you’re looking for merchandise from a specific franchise, check out these shops!
Pokemon debuted in 1996 and is still attracting old and new fans with its video games, anime series, and trading cards. You can find Pokemon plush toys and other related items in almost every souvenir store, but Pokemon Centers are the merch meccas. There are fourteen locations in total in cities like Sapporo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Fukuoka. Here’s where you’ll find Pokemon Centers in Tokyo!
Long-established department store Nihonbashi Takashimaya opened this location in 2018. The Pokemon Center is to the right of the entrance, where plushies and household goods featuring your favorite monsters are on display. The cafe serves dishes based on characters, including Pikachu Curry and a Snorlax Lunch Plate. Note that you must make a reservation to enter the cafe.
Pokemon Center MEGA is on the second floor of the shopping complex Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. It is the only place where you can buy a plush toy of Pikachu riding Mega Charizard Y’s head! The neighboring Pikachu Sweets is the second Pokemon cafe in Tokyo. Unlike the Pokemon Cafe in Nihonbashi, Pikachu Sweets features a takeaway menu with items like cupcakes and coffee drinks.
The newly renovated Shibuya Parco reopened in November 2019. Pokemon Center Shibuya debuted alongside the Tokyo Nintendo, CAPCOM, Tokyo Otaku Mode, and other digital and subcultural stores. Featuring an animatronic Mewtwo and a Pokedex display, it’s the most high-tech Pokemon Center yet!
The Solamachi shopping center is at the bottom of Tokyo SkyTree. Rayquaza is this location’s mascot, which is appropriate since SkyTree is Tokyo’s tallest structure! There are over 2500 Pokemon products to browse, including an exclusive plushie of Pikachu riding Rayquaza.
Technically speaking, the Tokyo Bay location is in Chiba Prefecture, and it’s within a reasonable distance from Tokyo Disneyland. If you love playing arcade games, this is the place for you. Here, you can play Pokemon Ga Ole, where you battle and capture wild Pokemon. If you win, the machine spits out a disk of the associated Pokemon, which you can use in future games.
Hello Kitty and her friends are waiting to welcome you to Japan! The Sanrio production company was one of the pioneers of modern Japanese pop-culture. In Tokyo, there are several unique and exclusive spots where you can meet Hello Kitty, including the Sanrio Puroland theme park. Check out these shops for the latest toys, apparel, and more!
The DiverCity shopping mall is home to Gundam Base and one of Japan’s largest Sanrio stores. You can find store-exclusive products here for kids and adults. What’s more, at the Hello Kitty no Kongariyaki Cafe, you can pick up themed treats such as cake, ice cream, and mochi.
You'll find the Hello Kitty Japan store on the fourth floor of Solamachi. It's a little small compared to other Sanrio shops, but it's the only place where you can find Skytree themed Hello Kitty goods.
The Ginza location is the flagship store and offers the largest selection of Sanrio characters in the world. There are two-stories of exclusive merchandise to browse through. Among them, you’ll find suitcases, teapots, and jewelry that combine your favorite characters with Japanese aesthetics.
Don’t forget to take a commemorative photo with the world’s largest Hello Kitty monument when you come here! The whimsically decorated shop has something for everyone, including suit ties, cosmetics, and clothes for all ages. There are also collectible Gacha-Gacha toys by the front door.
The Ikebukuro store is on the bustling Sunshine street. There are toys, apparel, and bags on the ground floor, and interior items on the second. You can also buy Hello Kitty popcorn and limited edition drinks.
Sailor Moon pop-up shops aren’t unheard of in Japan, but the one in Harajuku is the only permanent store! In true Harajuku-kawaii fashion, the walls drip in pink and glitter. On the shelves, you'll find Sailor Moon manga, and accessories representing all of the Sailor Scouts.
One of the most desirable items is the Crescent Moon Wand toy. There are also chibi dolls of Sailor Moon in her Princess Serenity dress. If you want something a little easier to pack, check out the keychains, cosmetics, and phone cases.
Mugiwara is the official One Piece merchandise shop. Even the decor celebrates the show with straw hats instead of lampshades on all of the lights. Inside, you’ll find everything you could imagine, including plates, snacks, and socks featuring Luffy and his crew.
Most excitingly, you can commemorate your visit by posing with life-size figurines or inside of the One Piece themed photo booth. There is also a section with manga and limited-edition goods.
There are several Donguri Kyowakoku shops around the city, and you can find one conveniently located in Solamachi. A cutout of Totoro welcomes you into the store. Naturally, you can get Ghibli-related plush toys and figurines of your favorite characters. You'll also see kitchen utensils, linens, and accessories.
Donguri Kyowakoku is more than just a chain. Some locations also participate in philanthropic measures through their Donguri Bank. Customers can bring in acorns they find on the ground, which go to a reforestation project on Shikoku island that is near and dear to Miyazaki’s heart. For every one-hundred acorns, you'll receive an oak sapling.
Fans of the Gundam multiverse can’t miss going to DiverCity. An imposing statue of an RX-0 Unicorn Gundam stands outside of the shopping center, and it intermittently transforms between “unicorn” and “destroy” modes. On the top floor of DiverCity, you’ll find the cultural and commercial hub of the franchise—Gundam Base Tokyo.
Inside, there are areas where you can take pictures with characters from every incarnation of the show, as well as models built by well-known Japanese artists. The shop sells merchandise with both apparent and discreet Gundam patterns and model kits. If you purchase one, an expert can sit down with you to help you build your Gundam.
Whether you’re a casual or a diehard anime fan, there’s no doubt you’ve come across Evangelion. Despite it being such a big hit, there’s only one official shop in Japan. You can find the Evangelion shop inside of the P’Parco department store in Ikebukuro.
The items range from subtle keychains to full-on NERV logos. You can find t-shirts featuring eye-catching and detailed designs that feature Tokyo-III’s scenery. Or, get some school supplies with images of the pilots. There are also umbrellas, backpacks, and pillows that have the same color schemes as the units!
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for all your anime needs, these are the best stores to find a diverse range of items.
Gamers specializes in video games, movies, CDs, and other anime-related goods.
The Kotobukiya flagship store sells figurines, plastic models, and hobby supplies.
Surugaya is a general store for second-hand and overstock merchandise.
There are eight K-Books locations in Ikebukuro. Depending on which one you visit, you’ll find cosplay gear, voice actor-related products, doujinshi, and more!
Yet another store in Tokyo SkyTree! This one sells all products related to Shonen Jump serializations.
The Animate franchise's main store, which is the largest anime and manga shop in Japan.
The inside of Radio Kaikan is home to more than 30 stores dedicated to electronics and anime goods, including K-Books, Kaiyodo, and Volks.
Character Street houses a variety of shops dedicated to Japanese animation franchises, including a Pokemon and Hello Kitty store.