If you like Akihabara, then you’re going to love Den Den Town in Osaka! Anime and manga fanatics planning a trip to Japan can’t miss out on Kansai’s premier Otaku district. Den Den Town offers all of the merch shops, arcades, and maid cafes that Akihabara does, but tends to be less crowded.
The name “Den Den” comes from the Japanese word denki, which means electricity. In addition to the anime and manga shops, Den Den Town is also home to camera and electronics stores. Most of the area centers around Sakaisuji and Ota Roads, making it easy to navigate even if you don’t have a GPS app.
If you’re looking for things to do in Den Den Town, you’ve come to the right place!
When you arrive, it might be hard to decide your first stop. The good news is, it won’t take long for you to find something! No matter how you spend your time in Den Den Town, don’t leave without trying at least one of these activities.
Nearly every arcade in Japan has claw machines on their first couple of floors. The prizes inside might include snacks, blankets, and even bags. However, what everyone looks for are the plushies featuring their favorite characters. Given the challenging nature of these games, you might spend your yen quicker than you might think, but you could also get lucky and win in one try!
Osaka is a food lover’s paradise, but if you want your visit to Den Den Town to be extra Otaku-themed, walk into one of the many maid cafes. Every meal comes with a side of kawaii at one of these places, and your server will sing, dance, and talk to you to make sure you leave with a smile. Be warned that some services garner an extra fee on your final bill!
If you’re looking to pick up a few things for your next convention, stop by Assist Wig. They’re known for their smooth and silky hair and offer 501 different colors. In addition to wigs, you can also find accessories, makeup, and props.
All that shopping at Assist Wig will come in handy if you’re in Den Den Town during the Spring Equinox. Both amateur and professional cosplayers come out by the thousands and hold a parade. In addition to the procession, there are also live music and street performances to enjoy.
Outside of nearly every storefront, you’ll see small machines dispensing toys inside of capsules. Insert your money, give the handle a turn, and get delighted or disappointed with what you receive. Every Gashapon features a variety of figurines that come from manga and anime franchises, or have familiar shapes like snacks, plants, and animals.
If you love games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, bring your favorite deck with you on your trip! In Japan, card shops aren’t just places to beef up your armory. Many have areas where you can battle it out with friends or strangers. Some also hold weekly tournaments with small prizes for the champions.
The real adventure of Osaka City’s electronics district is rifling through shelves and stacks for all of the swag that you can’t find anywhere else. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find stores selling new and second-hand merchandise. Here’s a glance at what you can expect to find at each one.
Animate is Japan’s largest chain store for anime-related goods, including manga, doujinshi, movies, and more. You can always count on finding something you want at one of these branches. The Animate in Den Den Town is inside of the same building as a Lashinbang, a Melonbooks, and a C-labo.
Card players from around the world needn’t look any further than Yellow Submarine for buying, selling, and trading. You’ll find common cards carefully categorized for individual purchases in storage boxes and rare releases beautifully displayed in glass cases. Stocks vary by each shop, so feel free to stop by both locations and pick up some fun card sleeves while you’re there.
Depending on how old you are, Super Potato will be a dive into a pool of nostalgia or a fun time capsule of vintage video games to explore. You’ll quickly recognize it by the statue of Mario that stands outside of the entrance. Although most of their wares are over twenty-years-old, you can find first-generation consoles and cartridges in mint condition. Before you leave, stop by the cafe for video game-themed sweets and pick up some keychains and T-shirts.
If you can read Japanese, or are planning on studying Japanese with manga, check out Toranoana, which has two locations in Den Den Town. Store A on Ota Road sells doujinshi and manga books on the first floor and games on the second. Store B’s comic book genres mostly cater to women, but they also sell a variety of goods, including music, movies, and toys.
Gee!STORE is your one-stop-shop for everything related to anime and manga. Most of the merchandise features mainstream shows like One Piece, Gundam, and Dragonball, but even the snobbiest weaboo can find something they’ll want to take home. Choose from hundreds of goods such as T-shirts, mugs, costumes, and more!
Hobby enthusiasts can’t miss out on browsing Volks Osaka Showroom. There are eight floors of tools and model kits, including trains, planes, and Gundams. You can also find anime figures and dolls from your favorite series like Fate and Love Live!
If you don’t have a lot of time for shopping, Joshin Super Kids Land offers everything for everyone. There are two annexes next to each other, and you can get a tax exemption when you present your passport. Super Den Den Land sells everyday items and electronics such as cameras, cosmetics, and designer products. Super Kids Land has five floors of models, miniatures, and character goods.
You can upgrade your toy collection at Hero Gangu Lab. The two-storied store offers an expansive array of new and used toys. The first floor offers the latest releases from Transformers, Gundam, and more. The second has vinyl figures and models from the 1960s and 1990s that are out of circulation.
Den Den Town can be a lot to take in, especially if it’s your first time in Japan. To help you start making your shopping list, here are some of our recommendations for items to look out for that we haven’t touched on yet.
You won’t have much luck if you’re looking for doujinshi and manga in English. However, the Japanese-literate will have a blast thumbing through all of the titles! Best of all, you won’t have to pay the pesky delivery fees you might otherwise get slapped with when you buy online.
Is your trip to Japan inspiring you to write a manga book for fun? Animate can help! They carry an enticing selection of Copic markers and ink that’ll allure the artist inside of you.
If you’ve already stocked up on anime-related merchandise, retro video games, and models, branch out into Den Den Town’s other claim to fame. As the “Electric Town” of Osaka, large retailers like Joshin and Sofmap have the newest gadgets for competitive prices. Independent shops also sell relics like pagers and home karaoke machines. Depending on your Japanese abilities, you can sometimes haggle for lower prices.
Around Nipponbashi 5-choume block, you’ll come across a maze-like alleyway called Nipponbashi Shotenkai. Reminiscent of the Showa Era, many of the shops have been around for decades selling antiques and curios. Among them are two kimono shops that specialize in gently used Japanese clothing and accessories. While brand-new kimonos can easily cost upwards of US $10,000, they go for a fraction of the price at second-hand shops.
Learning about a country’s food and music are some of the easiest ways to study its culture. Although you might already have a favorite Japanese band or singer, take the opportunity to find a new artist to love. Several record shops sprawl through Den Den Town that specialize in genres like Japanese jazz, hip-hop, and soul.