Translated by Clarke
Akihabara: 20 Things To Do From Anime, Arcades, To Maid Cafes!
Akihabara: 20 Things To Do From Anime, Arcades, To Maid Cafes!
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Akihabara in central Tokyo is famous for its inexpensive electronics shops, maid cafes and stores ideal for anime and game lovers. This article includes twenty fun things to do, information on access to the neighborhood, and specialty stores dealing in otaku goods.
20 Must-Visit Spots and Activities to Do in Akihabara
Akihabara is one of the best-known places in both Tokyo and Japan for electronics and otaku* goods. Due to its close proximity to Asakusa and easy accessibility from Narita Airport and Ueno, Akihabara is an ideal spot for sightseeing and shopping.
With plenty of electronics available at low prices—as well as figures and toys from anime, manga, and games—it's the perfect place to find cool Japanese gifts.
This article introduces locations that will make your trip to Akihabara memorable and entertaining.
*Otaku: A person who is obsessed with manga, anime, games and Japanese subculture.
1. Check Out Arcades and Game Centers
Picture from Let's Go! 7 Akihabara Game Centers
The streets of Akihabara are lined with numerous arcades and game centers where visitors can have fun playing crane (UFO catchers) and arcade games—the retro classics and latest releases.
Crane games have all sorts of rewards, from large plush dolls of anime and manga characters to jumbo-sized Japanese snacks and electronics. Many of these game centers—notably, Super Potato (Japanese), SEGA Game Center, and Taito Center—are within walking distance from JR Akihabara Station and easily accessible via the Electric Town Exit.
Akihabara Electric Town
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 1-chome
2. Experience Japanese "Moe" at Maid Cafes
In Japanese, the slang term "moe" describes cuteness, infatuation, and having a crush on someone or something. It is a well-known word in Akihabara's otaku culture. Those interested in seeing this firsthand are recommended to visit a maid cafe. Upon entering one of these establishments, patrons are politely greeted by female staff wearing maid costumes.
One of Akihabara's most popular maid cafes is @home cafe (Japanese). Another notable cafe is Maidreamin, where waitstaff work to put smiles on their guests—referred to as "masters" and "princesses"—faces.
When ordering food or beverages, the maids provide service that's second to none. If you're into otaku culture, make sure to visit this promised land of moe and entertainment.
Travelers interested in experiencing a maid cafe but don't know where to start can try the Maidreamin Cafe maid experience, a great way to experience the fun of maid cafe culture in Tokyo.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, 1-11-4, Mitsuwa Bld. 4F - 7F
3. Yodobashi Camera Akihabara: A Large-Scale Electronics Emporium
Yodobashi Camera Akihabara is a nine-story electronics emporium selling all the gadgets and tech products one could ever ask for and more. From Japanese rice cookers to beauty products, Yodobashi Camera Akihabara offers electronic items that are very popular among its customers—both local and overseas.
In addition to home electronics, Yodobashi Camera Akihabara also offers brand-name fashion, as well as a food court located above the main store. With plenty to see and buy, it is easy to spend all day in this building—located conveniently in front of Akihabara Station.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, Kandahanaokacho, 1-1
4. AKIHABARA Gamers Main Store: A Treasure Trove of Otaku Goods
AKIHABARA Gamers is a specialty store offering cute anime and voice actor-related collectibles. Its walls are lined with magazines, CDs, and a plethora of other "otaku" goods. Inside the store, you'll find merchandise such as delicious cookies and cute mugs that make perfect souvenirs.
This one-stop-shop is stocked with Japanese otaku products you won't want to miss!
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 1-14-7 Takarada Building
5. Don Quijote Akihabara: Affordable Japanese Souvenirs
Don Quijote Akihabara is part of Don Quijote, a Japan-wide chain of discount stores known for its reasonable prices and interesting merchandise. The Akihabara branch—which operates past midnight until 5 a.m.—offers a unique range of cosplay, anime, and other Akihabara-themed goods.
Don Quijote also offers services such as duty-free counters and accepts payment in foreign currency, striving to support international customers.
Another special feature of the store is the AKB Theater on the 8th floor, which regularly holds performances by the world-famous Japanese idol group, AKB48.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, 4-3-3
6. Taste Robot-Themed Food and Drinks at the Gundam Cafe
Picture from Must for fans!! Realistic Gundam World Cafe
Upon leaving JR Akihabara Station through the Electric Town Exit, visitors will be greeted with the official Gundam Cafe. This popular cafe throws guests into the world of Mobile Suit Gundam, one of the most popular Japanese anime featuring gigantic robots.
Starting with Gundam statues displayed throughout the restaurant, several other hidden surprises are awaiting Gundam fans in the cafe. Come here to learn more about this popular anime and experience the world of Mobile Suit Gundam for yourself!
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda Hanaokacho, 1-1
7. Akihabara UDX: Multi-Purpose Building in the Heart of Akihabara
Akihabara UDX (Urban Development X) is a multi-purpose high-rise complex in the epicenter of Akihabara's otaku culture. The 22-story building also has three floors dedicated to restaurants and cafes in the Akiba-Ichi areas (levels one to three). From kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) to omurice (rice omelet) to spicy Shenzhen ramen, you'll find a plethora of eateries that will satisfy your cravings.
On the fourth floor, you'll find the UDX Theater that is capable of playing 3D films. There's also the upscale Famima!!—operated by the Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart—on the fifth floor, where visitors can purchase premium food and packaged deli-style lunch boxes in a stylish ambiance.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, 4-14-1
8. Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan: Capsule Toy Dispensers!
Pictures from Who Knows What You'll Get? Akihabara's Gatchapon Alley!
The Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan (Japanese)—otherwise known as the Akihabara Capsule Toy Center—is a legendary specialty shop that sells elaborate capsule toys. From floor to ceiling, the whole store is completely lined with "gachapon" or capsule toy dispensers.
Capsule toys have been popular in Japan for many years, and capsule toy dispensers can be found throughout the country nowadays. However, the Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan is an entire store solely dedicated to these dispensers. Each gachapon dispenser costs around a couple of hundred yen. Why not pop in some coins, turn the knob, and see what comes out?
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, 3-15-5
9. Shop for Souvenirs with a Japanese Touch at CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE
Located beneath the JR rail lines by Akihabara Station, CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE is a building housing several shops offering high-quality, handmade goods. With handicrafts and other miscellaneous goods on sale, this is a great place to purchase authentically Japanese souvenirs for friends and family back home.
Inside, you'll find a Nippon Hyakkaten (Japanese department store) that offers unique items with a modern twist, including tableware and other goods. The building also houses a small cafe offering vegetarian and vegan-friendly Buddhist cuisine for lunch and dinner for those looking to have a relaxing sit-down meal.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda, Neribeicho 8-2
10. Shop for Otaku Goods at AKIBA CULTURES ZONE
AKIBA CULTURES ZONE is a six-story department store containing a large number of shops catering to those interested in otaku culture. There are subculture stores such as ACOS, which specializes in cosplay goods, to Rashinban and Animate—both offering anime merchandise. Hands down, this is a unique combination of shops you'll only find in Akihabara.
On the first floor, you'll find the AKIBA CULTURE Gekijo, which is a theater where underground idols hold live musical shows. You might catch a sneak peek of the next big idol in Japan when watching the next performance.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda, 1-7-6
11. Pray at Kanda Myojin Shrine
Take a break from shopping and visit the Kanda Myojin Shrine, boasting a history of nearly 1300 years, that is believed to house deities that protect the city of Tokyo. Easily accessible from Akihabara, a visit here is a great way to experience a Japanese shrine firsthand.
Picture from Kanda Myojin - A Famous Shrine Near Akihabara
Due to its close proximity to Tokyo's electronics and anime hub, the shrine itself offers unique anime collaboration merchandise, including a Love Live! School Idol Project good-luck talisman. Not surprisingly, you can also buy a charm that blesses electronic devices!
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 2-16
12. Cosplay and Photo Shoot at Studio Crown
Yearning to try out Japanese cosplay, or costume-play, in Japan but are unsure of how to do it? Look no further than the photo shoots at Studio Crown in Akihabara. Suitable for beginners and veteran cosplayers alike, you can choose from a range of cosplay photography plans, with services that including pre-made costumes, personalized makeup support, and selecting the appropriate props.
After getting into costume and makeup, Studio Crown will also provide professional photography services that make a great keepsake. Visitors interested in cosplay should make a reservation, which can be booked via the Studio Crown website.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda Building Sasage East 5th Floor B Tower
13. Dive Into Japanese Idol Culture at AKB48 Official Cafe & Shop
Picture from Representing Japan And Akibahara: AKB48!
A visit to Akihabara is not complete without exploring Japan's famous idol culture. At the official store and cafe of AKB48, Akihabara and Tokyo's representative female idol group with 48 members, customers can browse group merchandise and indulge in delicious AKB48-themed food while watching music videos and special performances in the upstairs cafe.
Located just outside of the JR Akihabara Station, the shop is easily accessible. Moreover, it's very welcoming to long-time fans as well as to those unfamiliar with Japanese pop music and celebrities.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda, Hanaokacho, 1-1
14. Discover Rare Collectibles at Kotobukiya
Kotobukiya Akihabara is a hobby shop specializing in figurines and models based on anime and manga characters. Its three floors of merchandise make it the largest store of its kind in Akihabara, and the elaborate model displays on each floor provide great window-shopping opportunities.
Whether you're on the hunt for a specific model of your favorite character or simply browsing, Kotobukiya provides an exciting glimpse into the model and figurine world in Japan.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 1-8-8
15. Pose With Adorable Owls at Akiba Fukurou Cafe
Picture from Perch An Owl On Your Shoulder At The Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe!
Animal-lovers can take photos and interact with the friendly owls at the Akihabara's Akiba Fukuro Cafe: an owl cafe with raving reviews in Japan. In comparison to other typical animal-based cafes in Japan, the Akiba Fukurou Cafe uses a reservation-only system that provides customers with an intimate and fun experience. This system also ensures the safety and well-being of the owls. There are also written instructions and close supervision from staff on proper handling of the owls.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda Neribei 67
16. Plant-Based Buddhist Cuisine at Komaki Shokudo
In the heart of Tokyo's electronic bazaar, Komaki Shokudo is an eatery serving authentic vegan and vegetarian Buddhist cuisine, otherwise known as shojin ryori.
Accessible from JR Akihabara Station's Electric Town Exit, Komaki Shokudo is located inside CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE, which houses several shops offering high-quality, handmade goods from Japan. The color vegetable-centric dishes contain no eggs, white sugar, dairy products, and "gokun*" (five pungent roots).
Open from lunch to dinner, head over here for a seasonal teishoku (set menu cuisine) based on the concept of "ichiju sansai" (one soup and three side dishes). From seasonings of miso (fermented soybean paste) to mirin (sweet rice wine), Komaki Shokudo offers a taste of mindful plant-based cooking that is homemade and from the heart.
*Gokun: the five pungent vegetables that include green onions, shallots, chives, garlic, and leeks.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda-Neribeicho 8-2
17. Savor Akihabara’s Best Bowls of Ramen (Meat and Vegan/Vegetarian Options)
While Akihabara may be more synonymous with Japanese subculture than ramen, the electric city is brimming with bowls of scrumptious noodles from meat-based to vegetarian and vegan options.
Motenashi Kuroki is a ramen eatery that's hard to miss with its continuous long lines of hungry clientele. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this establishment ranks as one of the best ramen shops in Akihabara. The trademark "shio" (salt-based) or miso ramen topped with two-day simmered "chashu" (roasted pork) are a must-have!
For vegetarian and vegan visitors, you're in luck as Akihabara is home to the Hakata ramen chain Kyushu Jangara Ramen. Here, animal-friendly dining is the creme de la creme with pipping bowls of noodle free from fish broth, pork bones, and simmered chicken. That doesn't mean it isn't packed with umami, as many plant-based eaters have raved about the savory soy sauce broth topped with tofu and various veggies.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-11-6
18. Unusual Vending Machines Selling Canned Oden and Snacks
It's not a secret that vending machines in Japan are topnotch and high-tech, some boasting digital screens with touch-panel displays and many accepting cashless forms of payments. However, leave it to Akihabara to bring the weirdness when it comes to these ubiquitous machines.
Located about a five-minute walk from Akihabara Station, there's a quiet corner lined with vending machines that sell everything from canned oden, plastic toy beetles, and mystery packages filled with edible snacks to odd bits and bobs. Why not venture out to this unique location hidden in Tokyo's popular hub for manga mega-fans and otaku subculture?
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda Suda-cho 2-19-7
19. Mandarake: An Otaku Shopping Mecca
When in Akihabara, do as the otakus do and venture out to the multitude of anime and manga shops. Opening its doors in 1987, Mandarake is one of the longest-standing and largest otaku emporiums stocked with anime merchandise, figures, video games, and rare goodies. Towering at eight floors, the flagship store in Akihabara is also equipped with English-speaking staff to assist you in finding one-of-a-kind otaku paraphernalia.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-11-12
20. Little TGV: Dine at a Railroad-Themed Cafe
While maid cafes are a well-known mainstay in Akihabara, there are other quirky themed cafes in the kitschy electronic and otaku district. Take Little TGV (Japanese), for example. This railroad-themed cafe merges Akihabara’s maid cafe culture with staff clad in train conductor outfits serving up tasty creations. Not to mention that the restaurant is set in a fictional train company coined the New Akihabara Electric Railway.
Customers are seated in booths that were once original train seats where they can order rolled omelets (tamagoyaki) shaped as train carriages and cocktails that mirror the colors of Tokyo train lines, like Cassis Orange for the Ginza Line.
Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-10-5
How to Get to Akihabara
Akihabara is conveniently linked to many train lines, including the JR Yamanote Line, JR Chuo/Sobu Line, JR Keihin Tohoku Line, the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, and the Tsukuba Express Line. Since so many trains pass through Akihabara, it is easily accessible without even changing train lines.
Here's how to get to Akihabara Station aboard Tokyo's trains.
JR lines Departing from Tokyo, Shinjuku, and Shibuya Stations are Convenient
From the hub of Tokyo Station, you can directly arrive at Akihabara Station via the Keihin Tohoku Line in about 4 minutes for 140 yen.
If you're coming from bustling Shinjuku Station, taking the Chuo/Sobu Lines is recommended. First, take the Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Ochanomizu Station, then transfer to the Sobu Line to Akihabara Station.
This route takes about 14 minutes and costs 170 yen.
If you're keen on walking across Shibuya's iconic Scramble Crossing, you can get to Akihabara by hopping aboard the Yamanote Line. This takes about 28 minutes and costs 200 yen.
From Ginza or Roppongi, Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line
When heading from the lavish shopping district around Ginza Station to Akihabara Station, get on the Hibiya Line for 13 minutes, which costs 170 yen.
If you're arriving from the lively nightlife district of Roppongi, you can also use the Hibiya Line. The ride will take 22 minutes and costs 200 yen.
From Asakusa, Take the Tsukuba Express
From Asakusa, you can directly get to Akihabara via the Tsukuba Express Line. This will take you just 5 minutes and costs 210 yen. However, since the Akihabara stop on the Tsukuba Express Line is a little removed from JR Akihabara Station, be careful not to get lost on your way to the center of Akihabara's Electric Town.
Where Electronics and Otaku Culture Merge in Akihabara
Akihabara is a well-known entertainment hub where high-tech goods, electronics, and otaku culture come together. While this spot is popular amongst those interested in anime, manga, and niche hobbies, it also has a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors. We highly recommend visiting Akihabara and learning more about the otaku side of Tokyo and Japanese subculture.