Welcome to the very unique Akihabara! Akihabara is entirely different from the rest of Tokyo. This part of the city focuses on four things: anime, manga, video games, and technology. Let us take you through this neighborhood by looking at its history, its landmarks, things to do, and last but not least, its best bites.
In 1869, there was a great fire that devastated most of Tokyo. After this disaster, a shrine was built in order to prevent an event like this from ever happening again. This shrine is called the Akiba shrine, and eventually the surrounding area became known as Akihabara. It started out as a town selling lumber, and it was one of the major distribution centers in Tokyo thanks to its large train station. From the 1990s onward, the area changed drastically and became one of the first electronic towns of Japan. It was not until the early 2000s that the town started to focus on “Otaku Culture” (Manga, Anime Subculture), and has only recently evolved into the unique area that it is now.
Looking for some new updates to your household? Gadgets to make your life a lot easier? Go on down to the Yodobashi Camera right outside of Akihabara Station. All of the major electrical appliance stores are packed into Akihabara, making the selection larger and the prices a lot lower than other areas of Japan. Out of all of them, Yodobashi is by far the number one spot! There are staff who can speak many languages throughout the store, making shopping there a whole lot easier. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, walking through and checking out the amazing technology that Japan has to offer is fun as well. Be careful though, many people end up buying something anyway!
Filled with interesting places, Chuo Dori street is the main street of Akihabara. When you come to Akihabara this should be the first place you visit to get an idea of what this area has to offer. There are multiple alleyways that branch out from Chuo Dori, and the alleyways are where Akihabara starts to get interesting. It is fun to get lost when visiting another country, but it is always nice to have a place to reset. Use Chuo Dori as a reference point, and start diving into these alleys!
Do you enjoy anime? This area is heaven for people who do. Akihabara is filled with anime and manga shops, and Mandarake is by far the best option out of all. It stocks 8 floors filled with anime goods of all kinds, from comics, dvds, and video games, to figurines, retro toys, and cosplay goods, and much more. (Please be advised that some floors are adult themed 18+) There are many more stores like Mandarake around town, some other popular ones being Tora no Ana, and Animate. Animate is the most family-friendly for those of you who are planning to bring your children.
Don Quijote is one of the places that you must visit during your stay in Japan. With a location at almost every major train station, this is one of the most popular destinations for both locals and travellers when shopping. Here you can buy all kinds of goods including everyday items, electronics, clothes, souvenirs, and a whole bunch of weird stuff. The one in Akihabara is not just your average Don Quijote, however, as there is an AKB48 stage on the top floor! For those of you who do not know who AKB48 is, it is the most popular idol group in Japan consisting of over 100 girls. This particular Don Quijote was the starting point for the group. For fans of this idol group, this is one of the must-go spots when visiting Japan.
Kanda Myojin Shrine
Akihabara can get very busy and loud, but there are quiet places as well. If you need a little break from the city, the Kanda Myojin Shrine is the best place to do so. The shrine is dedicated to Ebisu, the god of prosperity, and Daikokuten, the god of commerce, making this shrine a popular spot for businessmen from all over the country. It is also dedicated to the Spirit of Taira no Masakado, a samurai warrior who rebelled against the central government during the Heian Period way back in the year 940. The spirit was so feared that it is now known as a kami, or god. In recent years, this shrine has also gained association with technology, due to the location. It is a very popular spot for IT workers to visit.
Unique Places To Visit
Familiar with Gundam? It is one of Japan’s most popular and longest running franchises. Starting as an anime in 1979, Gundam has continued to entertain and inspire many people with its jaw dropping action and cool giant robots. Even if you’re not a fan of Gundam, it is still worthwhile to experience one of Japan’s most iconic franchises. If you are a fan, however, you are bound to have an excellent time with the Gundam-themed drinks and dishes that they have. Try the curry, it is very unique, and it is of course very tasty.
When walking around Akihabara, you’ll see many girls dressed up as french maids all over the place, which may lead some people to wonder, what are they there for? Akihabara is well known for the various maid cafes that are scattered throughout the neighborhood. A maid cafe is a cafe where all of the staff are dressed as french maids and they treat you as if you are their “master”. For first timers it may be a little odd and embarrassing, but once you are in there for a while, you will start to enjoy the unique atmosphere. Although these stores are mainly for male customers, if any of you ladies out there are interested then don’t be shy and give it a try!
Final Fantasy Cafe
Final Fantasy is one of Japan’s most successful RPGs (Role Playing Game) of all time, and it is well known all around the globe. All gamers know about it, and even those of you who do not play video games too much may have heard of the name before. This cafe lets you dive into the world of Final Fantasy, with food and drinks that appear in the games. For those of you who are a fan of the game, may have wished to drink a potion at one point or another, and now you can have that fantasy come true. They carry a wide selection of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, with the names of the jobs or classes that you can choose in the game, or of very famous characters. Even if you’re not a fan, dive into the world of Final Fantasy and enjoy a drink or two!
Welcome to the home of Sega! If you like video games, then you have come to the right spot. There are 4 different Sega arcades in Akihabara, each with unique styles and various prizes that you can win. All the arcades are multiple floors of fun. Arcades are slowly disappearing in Japan due the recent evolution of console games and the emergence of smart phone games. Enjoy some of the best arcade games that you have ever played in your life while you still can. The first floor always has countless crane games. Test your luck and skill with these games to win awesome prizes!
Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan
Remember the toy capsule vending machines from when you were younger? In Japan we taken those to a whole ‘nother level. The Gachapon Kaikan is a store dedicated to just that. Gachapon are capsules filled with little toys, often figurines of popular anime characters. With hundreds of different machines placed all throughout the store, this may be one of the most unusual stores you will pop into on your trip. The location is a little far from the main part of the neighborhood, but it is well worth the walk. The trip to get to the Gachapon Kaikan is also very interesting. There are many stores along the way, and it is fun just to drop in and browse around. Who knows, you may be able to find an interesting hidden place that even we don’t know about!
Places To Eat
After walking around and exploring Akihabara, let’s stop, relax, and enjoy some food!
First on the list is some seafood, and we have a great option called Domannaka. Here you can try a variety of different seafood, including sashimi, fried, grilled, or any other style you would like. They even perform ikizukuri, where the fish is cut open, and sliced into pieces while it is still alive. Even though it is technically dead at this point, the nerves are still connected, so the fish is still moving a little when you eat it. Exciting huh? This restaurant takes fresh seafood to a new level!
Address: 3-37, Kanda, Sakumacho, Chiyoda
Akihabara is filled with tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurants. Marugo is a family-owned restaurant, and one of the most popular out of all the options in Akihabara. Pork has been very popular in Tokyo for more than a hundred years, so if you plan to eat some pork in Japan, do it in Tokyo. Even within Tokyo, Akihabara is said to be the number one spot for tonkatsu lovers. Here you can get a very juicy and tender pork cutlet for a decent price, and you can also choose what kind of cut you want.
Address: 1 Chome-8-14, Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Ikina Isshou ($〜$$)
Time for some ramen! Akihabara is surrounded by a few colleges and universities, so the neighborhood has many cheaper restaurants to accommodate the students. A popular choice is ramen, and they are seriously good! One of the best is Ikina Isshou, and they have very nice miso based ramen. You can try either normal miso, or spicy miso. For those of you who have never had miso ramen before, we recommend to try the normal miso first!
Address: 1 Chome-27-2, Taito, Taito
Wagyu Roast Beef
Roast Beef Ohno-Ya ($$)
Already had wagyu steak before? This restaurant has a different take–they specialize in wagyu roast beef. As it is very soft and easy to eat to begin with, wagyu is amazing when made into roast beef. Once you try it, you’ll never be able to go back. Try their roast beef bowls; they are mouthwatering and very generous with their portions. There are many types of toppings that you can choose from, but we recommend getting the original, without any toppings, so you can enjoy the flavor of the wagyu beef.
Address: 1 Chome-2-3, Sotokanda, Chiyoda
Teuchi Soba Kiritakumi ($$)
After a wild day in the modern city of Akihabara, why not wind down and enjoy some traditional Japanese soba noodles? This restaurant makes their noodles by hand, so they are some of the freshest and tastiest soba noodles that you can find in the area. Unlike other soba restaurants, Kiritakumi offers a variety of different sobas, as well as very fresh tempura. There are soba restaurants all over Akihabara, but none of them even compare to Kiritakumi.This restaurant is definitely worth a visit.
Address: 3 Chome-20, Kanda, Sakumacho, Chiyoda
When you visit Tokyo, be sure to drop by this unique area and get a look at the strange subcultures that we have here in Japan!