Those that know me know that I have a favorite city. It’s one that I lived essentially next to for a little over two years of my life. (And just saying, I go back whenever I can.) That city? The one and only Tokyo, Japan. The heavily populated metropolis, officially known as the “Tokyo Metropolis” (東京都 Tōkyō-to), is perhaps one of the most densely populated cities in the world. With an average 16,095 residents per square mile, there is A LOT of people in Tokyo. That means that there has to be a lot to do! And yet, the question I get all the time when I tell people I lived there is:
“What is there to do in Tokyo?”
The thing is, I almost find myself stumpt when I hear this. The reason is because depending on your interests, I could likely list off numerous things you could do! So to begin answering that question (along with the greater question of “What is there to do in Japan?”), I’m going to provide some breakdowns of the top places to hit up in Tokyo depending on your interests. And starting off today, we’ll be focusing on places related to a reason that perhaps makes Japan a mecca land for millions of people around the world: Anime and Manga.
Anime (アニメ), or Japanese animation, and Manga (漫画), Japanese comic books, are multi-billion dollar industries. 2016 saw the Manga industry taking in 445.4 billion yen from Japan alone in sales, thus not even factoring in all the sales produced from overseas prints (source). Meanwhile 2017, the Anime industry alone produced 17.7 billion USD or 2.01 trillion yen worldwide, in large part thanks to the smash hit film “your name.” by Makoto Shinkai which took in nearly $358 million USD worldwide (source) (Be sure to check out my review of that coming soon!) and the two industries are only growing, not just in Japan, but around the world .
With 52 Animation houses mostly booked fully until at least 2020, it’s no wonder that so many tourists are seeking out Tokyo, the city spoken of in nearly every major city based anime (source). Just off the top of my head, here are a couple to name a few:
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles
Darker than Black
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Dang, that wasn’t just “a few”!
So today, we’re going to break down some of the top spots all Manga Anime fans should check out while in Tokyo. Please note, this is a generalized list. It does not cover specific places mentioned in various anime or manga. However if I know of these locations being in certain franchises, I’ll mention it. Rather, I will cover specific anime requests more heavily in separate blog posts. So if there’s a specific one you want to know about, let me know! I love digging for new places in Tokyo!
Additionally, prior to starting, I’d like to mention some chain shops worth checking out if you are an anime fan that you can find throughout Tokyo. (Trust me, there are multiple branches):
Animate (ACOS) – Primarily caters to current Anime and Manga
Mandarake (まんだらけ) – Second hand merchandise seller and buyer
K Books – Another Second hand merchandise seller and buyer, though often catering more to ladies.
Lashinbang (らしんばん) – A great second hand merchandise seller.
Maidreamin’ – A popular chain maid cafe that has locations in many of the places listed below!
BookOff – Second hand book, magazine, DVD, and CD store! Even if you can’t read Japanese, it’s great to go here for old publications you won’t find anywhere else!
Kinokuniya – Japanese bookstore that often carries various manga.
Many of these places are in general areas as well. So rather than giving exact addresses (unless applicable), I will list the stations closest to said locations. Keep in mind too that all prices will be in Japanese Yen. For US-based travelers, the easiest way to calculate costs is to consider 100 yen JYP as 1 USD. Finally, websites listed will be official websites whenever possible. That does mean sometimes they will be in Japanese. But they can still be very useful to non-Japanese speakers! Without further ado though, let’s get started! 😀 😀 😀
1. Akihabara (秋葉原)
Anime fans knew this had to be number 1 on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list. Also known as the “otaku” (オタク) mecca, the affectionately nicknamed “Akiba”, “Electric Town”, and “Denki Gai” (電気街), is home to perhaps the highest and most densely populated area of anime, video game, manga, and electronic shops in the world. With one of the busiest stations in the area serving 5 lines and transferring to a 6th, while also serving over 125,928 passengers a day (notably, the station sports a variety of anime advertisements, though, no, it’s not the busiest station if you can believe that), Akihabara (short for “Akigahabara”, lit. “Autumn Leaf Field”), is located in the Chiyoda ward (千代田区) of Tokyo and grew into an electronics center after World War II. With Electronics, eventually, anime and manga followed.
Today, Akihabara is host to a variety of shops. Many specialize in anime, manga, figurines, video games, computers, cosplay, gaming centers, and themed cafes. Places of especially cool note include Rajio Kaikan (Radio Hall), Akiba Culture Zone, Kotobukiya, Cure Maid, Gamers, Yodobashi Camera, the (first) Gundam Cafe, the AKB48 Cafe, Square Enix Cafe, and Laox. You can also find some familiar locations featured in the series “Steins;Gate”. In addition to all of the electronics lining the streets, you may even see a Maid or two promoting the various maid cafes in the area (no taking their pictures though unless you pay once inside the shops – the most common of which is the chain Maidreamin with 6 in Akiba alone!). If you’re an anime fan, it’s definitely a sure stop to hit up!
The next place on our Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list is a little out west! Located out west in Mitaka city (三鷹市, Mitaka-shi) (still inside of the Tokyo Metropolis), the Ghibli Museum or “Mitaka no Mori Jiburi Bijutsukan” (The Mitaka Forest Ghibli Art Museum) is another coveted mecca-like location for anime and manga lovers around the world. Primarily focusing on the work of Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿), including “Spirited Away”, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “Ponyo”, and “Princess Mononoke” (though other films and creators are featured as well), this beautiful and unique building takes you on a journey into the animation process of these films, each of which, when directed by Miyazaki, use only a small percentage of computerized frames.
The building, which is just as unique and creative as Ghibli movies themselves, is a must visit for any fan of Miyazaki’s work. It distinctly immortalizes the films with many beautiful insights provided on their creations. Learn about the history of animation, the animation process, see a kid sized cat bus and (from “My Neighbor Totoro”) and a five-meter tall Robot Soldier statue (from “Laputa Castle in the Sky”), and maybe try to see if you can catch sight of soot spots (from “Spirited Away”) ! It’s a little out and away from the center of Tokyo. But if you have the chance, it’s definitely worth a visit!
IMPORTANT: Tickets to the Ghibli Museum are HARD TO GET. Ticket sales outside of Japan open up 3 months in advance and sell out quickly (very quickly). So if you want to go, you’d best get those tickets immediately once they’re available. Tickets are generally distributed overseas through your local Japanese Embassy (specifically by the JTB Group). I would recommend going early in the morning on a weekday if possible. If you can, call and email your local Embassy before driving out to get tickets as well. They may also be able to mail them to you and give you a heads up as to if the dates you are looking to go are available. For more information regarding tickets to the Ghibli Museum and how to purchase them, visit the following website provided by Ghibli: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ticket-information/ .
Closest Stations: Mitaka or Kichijoji Stations (Mitaka Station also regularly has buses running to and from the museum – check the Ghibli Museum Website Here for more information). These stations service the Chuo-Sobu (中央総武緩行線) and Chuo lines (中央本線). Make sure you are on the right train, not all of them stop at either station. Kichioji also services the Keio Inokashira Line (京王井の頭線). Address: 1-chōme-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tōkyō-to 181-0013, Japan Official Museum Website (English):http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ Price: 4-6 Age Range = 100 yen 7-12 Age Range = 400 yen 13-18 Age Range = 700 yen 19+ Age Range = 1,000 yen
3. Odaiba (お台場)
Odaiba once upon a time didn’t exist. It is quite literally a man made island. Technology is amazing, no? But what’s so cool about Odaiba and why have you probably never heard of it? Why is it on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list? Well, unless you’ve lived in Japan, you probably haven’t heard of Odaiba, but you’ve likely heard about say… a giant Gundam, which is located there. The RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, a full 1:1 replica of the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn series, stands at an impressive 19.7 Meters tall in front the DiverCity Tokyo, a massive shopping mall that locals and tourists alike enjoy.
Also right by the shopping mall, DiverCity is home to the second Gundam Cafe and a Gundam Store known as “Gundam Base” is located close to the 1:1. It’s definitely an Instagram worthy spot and is also worth seeing at night, when it will at certain times move as part of a light show (see the note below for more details on that!).
In addition to the Gundam (because no, this isn’t a Gundam specific list), Odaiba is also the home of the Fuji TV Building. The futuristic looking builing is famous for the sphere in the center of it that is seen in many an anime. (“Digimon”, anyone?) The building can be seen from the Gundam, but it’s a little far. So take the crosswalk bridge over to get the best look. Odaiba is also the location of the Tokyo Big Sight, home of Comiket Summer and Comiket Winter, two conventions held annually dedicated primarily to doujinshi (同人誌), or fan comics, sales and cosplay.
Finally, if you’re tired after all of that, you can hit up the Oedo Onsen Monogatari (大江戸温泉物語), a hot springs, or onsen (温泉), resort on the island known for doing collaboration specials with up and coming anime releases and it’s surprisingly affordable! (The first time I was there, they were collabing with Tiger and Bunny! And all of the characters were wearing yukata (浴衣)! How freakin’ appropriate is that?!)
Gundam Note: The Gundam will move at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM and 5 PM. At night after dusk, at 7:30 and 9:30 PM currently it will again move along with a light show.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari Note: This onsen is very tourist friendly, with many signs in English assisting guests. However, it’s best to read up on the locker system and how onsens work before you go. Additionally, this onsen does not allow those with tattoos to enter the hot springs. However they may allow guests to wander around the inside shops and food court in yukata if their tattoos are covered. Double check though. Best practice is always to ask if your host can call ahead and ask for you in advance!
Closest Station/Rail Line: The Rinkai (りんかい線) and Yurikamome Lines (新交通ゆりかもめ線) both service Odaiba, with many stops around the island including Ariake, Kokusai-Tenjio, Tokyo Big Sight, Aomi, Telecom Center (closest to Oedo Onsen), Tokyo International Cruise Terminal, Daiba (close to DiverCity), and Tokyo Teleport (close to DiverCity) Stations. Be sure to check which stations are closest to where you are looking to go! Official Website:https://www.tokyo-odaiba.net/en/ Price: Free to walk around; Oedo Onsen Monogatari entry generally starts out at 2,720 Yen for adults.
4. The Shibuya Scramble Crossing (渋谷駅前スクランブル交差点)
Shibuya (渋谷) may seem like an interesting creature to be on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list. It’s a bit like the area around Times Square in NYC. The intersection is known for its insane crosswalk. (You’ve likely seen videos of it if you’ve googled Tokyo or travel in general.) In addition to the crazy intersection that you come out to at the Hachiko Exit (ハチ公出口), it is also home to well, Hachiko, named the world’s most loyal dog.
Alright, it’s not an actual dog, it’s his statue. However, this intersection and the statue make numerous appearances. Not to mention they are referenced many a times throughout tons of anime and manga. This is because Hachiko’s statue became a popular, easy spot for meeting others in Shibuya. (A sharp anime fan will remember when Kyoko met Ren here in “Skip Beat!”) Though today the statue’s meeting spot is getting more and more crowded these days, it still holds that reputation. (Fun fact, Hachiko’s story was the inspiration for the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” starring Richard Gere in 2010).
Shibuya is also a happening spot for fashion, music, and anime/manga shopping. Shibuya 109, a popular fashion center, is situated across from the station on the other side of the large intersection (it’s also the design inspiration for a building featured at the end of one of Square Enix’s latest games – I’ll let you guess which one as I don’t want to spoil anything), as well as Tsutaya, which is host to numerous books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs of all kinds (though be warned, not all of them have English subs).
It’s also a great spot for going up and seeing the ‘scramble’ at the crossing from above. Past Tsutaya, you’ll find plenty of shops worth diving into. But in particular there is an Animate and Mandarake in a large blue building past Forever 21. Check Google Maps so that you don’t miss it as they are a little tricky to find and require using an elevator to get to!
If you head to the right instead of the left from the intersection coming out from the Hachiko Exit, you can find Tower Records, the perfect spot to pick up that CD you’ve been searching for before going out for Karaoke (カラオケ), at places such as Rainbow Karaoke Shibuya, Karaoke Hall or “Karaoke Kan” (カラオケ館), and Karaoke Entertainment BIG ECHO (カラオケパセラ 渋谷店), among tons of others which are nearby. So go see why it’s referenced so often in anime and manga! And maybe belt out a few of those anime theme songs while there! So while Shibuya isn’t specifically related to just anime or manga, it’s worth going to. It’s so iconic and used across the medium as a whole. Not to mention, it does have some great places to hit up for entertainment.
Located not too far from Shibuya and a short couple transfers away from Mitaka (三鷹) lies Harajuku, Tokyo’s most fashion-forward district and with that, a love for the eccentric. This pushes it to the number 5 slot on our Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list. Not only will you see lolita fashion (and sometimes cosplay) modeled down Harajuku’s famous foot road of Takeshita Doori (竹下通り), but you’ll also find a number of collectic shops focusing on a variety of subgenres in Japanese Pop Culture, anime included. Some pop up specifically for the release of various new series. (Ones I have seen before include both “Haikyu” and “Uta no Prince Sama”!) Be sure to dive in and explore the back alleys of Takeshita Doori to find them. (Don’t worry, it’s plenty safe!).
In addition to exploring the gold mine that is Takeshita Doori, be sure to hit up Omotesando (表参道), home of Kiddy Land, a large toy shop specializing at tugging at your nostalgic heart strings with items spanning the likes of Disney, Ghibli, Gundam, “Dragonball”, “Sailor Moon”, and various brand characters such as Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, and Gudetama.
If you get the chance, also hit up the LINE shop, selling products based off of iconic characters within the messaging app, and the Kawaii Monster Cafe, a restaurant specializing in all things cute and scary (it takes a tab out of the books of both the Harajuku girls’ and cosplayers’ in terms of style). If you’re into eccentric fashion as well, be sure to hit up LaForet, a massive shopping complex with various boutiques, some of which are favorite shopping spots of the Harajuku Girls.
TIP: If you’re planning to hit several of this list’s recommended spots in a day, I highly recommend going to Ghibli in the morning. Follow that up with Harajuku, and then Shibuya. Works like a charm every time. Another great time to go to Harajuku is Sunday morning when the Harajuku girls are out at the Jingu Bashi/Bridge (神宮橋). Around that time they’ll be decked out in their latest fashion finds in the Lolita and Visual Kei undergrounds. (Be prepared, they may ask for money if you take their picture).
TIP #2: The bridge where you’ll find a number of these girls also leads to the Meiji Shrine (明治神宮), the largest Shinto Shrine in Tokyo and though it is not related to anime or manga, it is definitely worth a visit.
TIP #3: Near Kiddy Land are two spots that are also great to visit too: Oriental Bazaar, which sells nice (cheaper) souvenirs from Tokyo and Heiroku Sushi, an authentic sit down sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt! Both great stops if you have the time!
At number 6 on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list, is the famous Tocho. Making up a key bit of scenery as an iconic part of the Tokyo city skyline featured in many an anime and manga, the Tocho or formally in English, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁舎), houses the entirety of the Tokyo metropolitan government. Today, we’re primarily interested in Building #1. While not as famous as Tokyo Tower, Building #1 has become an iconic feature of Tokyo’s horizon.
Designed by Kenzō Tange (丹下 健三), who rose to international fame with his winning design for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (平和記念公園) (he was also responsible for the Fuji TV Building mentioned above in Odaiba and several Tokyo 1964 Olympic Arenas), Building #1 was made to resemble both a cathedral and a computer chip (in short, yes, that’s their town hall and it’s kicking all other town halls’ butts in terms of design).
Aside from its numerous appearances in anime, ranging from “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles”, to “Digimon” and “your name.”, it has frequently been featured in live action movies (such as various Godzilla films). In addition, it was the inspiration for “Final Fantasy XV,”’s Crown City of Insomnia’s Citadel. It has also been speculated by many an anime fan to be the inspiration for the setting of the trailer for “Verum Rex” in “Kingdom Hearts 3”.
Going up to the top of the building on a clear day offers beautiful views of the entire city and Mt. Fuji. Up top there are various gift shops and cafes to sit down and grab a bite at too. (Though to be fair, they can be a little pricey). Also, for those wondering, it’s completely earthquake safe. (I was in it during one and barely noticed it happening; fun times.) The biggest bonus to the Tocho though, is the that fact that it’s in Shinjuku (新宿), which also is a host of multiple cool anime-themed sites that you might spot while passing by on the way to the Tocho. A ride up the Tocho is also free, so the experience is a win-win.
Off to the other side of the Tokyo city skyline lies the famous Tokyo Tower. And yes, it looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower, but painted bright orange (or red, depending who you ask – it’s debated) and white. Locked in at number 7 on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list, at 332.9 meters high (taller than the Eiffel for those curious) and built in 1957, the tower first acted as a communications tower in its early years. It became a tourist attraction years later.
Today, it serves 5 FM radio stations and 9 TV stations. It’s also right above the Foot Town, inside of which is “Tokyo One Piece Tower” (東京ワンピースタワー), an indoor theme park based off of the legendary and still ongoing “One Piece“ (ワンピース) manga by Eiichiro Oda (尾田 栄一郎). Originally, it was meant to be a temporary attraction. But due to popularity, it became a permanent foothold inside the interior shopping center under Tokyo Tower.
As popular as One Piece is though, that’s not the only reason why Tokyo Tower makes this list. I can’t even begin to list off the number of anime this building is featured in. Some popular ones include: “Doraemon”, “Sailor Moon”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Death Note”, and “Detective Conan”. The list goes on and on.
Additionally, it’s the inspiration for many of the towers that can be seen in Disney’s “Big Hero 6”. These are also featured in the video game “Kingdom Hearts 3”. It’s also where Robin and Starfire from “Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo” share their first ‘official kiss’ under this tower in the 2006 full length movie based off of the 2003-2006 series “Teen Titans”. I primarily bring that up as Tokyo Tower is lorded as a romantic location in Tokyo, particularly at night. So if you’re trying to see something related to your favorite anime and appease your significant other, this is definitely the place to go. (But yes, I ship that couple hard).
Closest Stations: Akabanebashi, Kamiyacho, Onarimon, Shibakoen, Daimon, and Hamamatsucho Stations. Official Website:https://www.tokyotower.co.jp/en.html Prices: Adult: 900 yen (main deck only) or 2,800 yen (both decks) Elementary to High School Students: 500 yen (main deck only) or 1,800 yen (both decks) Children 4 and over: 400 yen (main deck only) or 1,200 yen (both decks)
8. Nakano Broadway (中野ブロードウェイ)
Now my fellow anime fan, let us look to the west of downtown Tokyo. Just a little west of the neighborhood of Shinjuku lies the station of Nakano (中野) on the Chuo and Sobu lines. From there, you’re just a short walk away from the fabled Nakano Broadway, a massive shopping complex catering primarily to otaku subcultures and next on our Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list. With some rather common stores on the first few floors, higher up lies a massive number of stores dedicated to fans of anime, manga, comics, Disney, video games, and even Star Wars!
The stores here are really just for fans and not about making significant amounts of money. (For this reason, many fans enjoy Nakano more than Akihabara which at times suffers from an overabundance of advertising and pop culture promotion). Mandarake, Japan’s premier reselling store of collectables, has a plethora of individual shops dedicated to various genres of fan bases. Those can range from singers to figurines and Winnie the Pooh. It’s also the home of Mandarake’s Honmise (本店), or Head Store.
What makes Mandarake and many of the stores in Nakano Broadway unique is that they primarily sell things no longer carried in stores. So yes, that means things that you never thought you could find because they were ‘sold out’ you have a shot at finding here. Seriously, they have everything and anything dating back 50+ years. It’s the perfect place to find that special gift for your favorite nerd back home.
Not only can you buy rare merch, but you can also sell your own here! Mandarake has buyback counters where you can bring your merch to get an estimate. Be warned – they like it in peak condition. They’re selling it to fans after all. But if you still have the box and original packaging, you have a pretty decent shot at selling it to them. Just be prepared and know you’ll likely not get the full price back, especially if it’s been opened.
TIP: The closest station to Nakano Broadway is on the same train lines that service the Mitaka and Kichijoji Stations. Using those stations, it’s possible to also get to the Ghibli Museum. If you go the the Ghibli Museum and have some time before heading back into the city, Nakano makes a great stop on the way back!
Closest Station: Nakano Station Official Website:http://www.nbw.jp/#!/en Price: Your Wallet… probably. No, it’s free, until again, you shop.
9. Nerima (練馬区)
I had a hard time between deciding between this one and Mt. Fuji (富士山) for the 9th placement on the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list. But as Mt Fuji is technically NOT in Tokyo, and this follows up on our last spot mentioned, I wanted to go ahead and recommend the area around Nerima, which is known as the “origin of anime production”, being the home of Toei Movie Studios’ location in Tokyo.
The first spot to go to in Nerima is Oizumi Anime Gate (大泉アニメゲート). This is a quick walk from the Oizumigakuen Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line (西武池袋線). Located close to Toei Studios and the Toei Animation Gallery, the walkway highlights many of Toei’s classic works over the years including. Some characters include long time anime fan favorites such as Astro Boy of “Astro Boy”, Lum from “Urusei Yatsura”, Tetsuro Hoshino and Maetel from “Galaxy Express 999”, and Joe Yabuki from “Tomorrow’s Joe”. Opened in 2015, the deck was built to represent the pride the people of Nerima have in being the “Number One City for Anime [Production]”.
Also in the same area and a short walk away is the Toei Animation Gallery and Museum (東映アニメーションミュージアム) featuring various Toei Animation art works including “Sailor Moon”, “Pretty Cure”, “One Piece”, and “Dragon Ball”, titles most every anime fan knows. It is literally around the corner from Toei Movie Studios, which was also previously Nihon Doga Eiga from 1948 to 1956. The gallery gives you an inside look at the process and legacy of these many anime. You can see original illustrations, model sheets, and various touch screen displays that allow you to interact with the exhibits. At the moment, tours through the studio itself are not available, however, admission into the Gallery and Museum are free!
TIP: Interested in more anime themed museums? Check out the Suginami Animation Museum (東京工芸大学杉並アニメーションミュージアム) of the Tokyo Polytechnic University in Suginami-ku (杉並区), closest to the Nishi-Ogikubo and Ogikubo Stations, both of which are also on the Chuo and Sobu lines between Mitaka and Nakano Stations (used to get to the Ghibli Museum and Nakano Broadway respectively).
I’ll admit, Ikebukuro’s placement on this list of the Top 10 Places for the Anime fan is a bit of a… guilt ridden placement on multiple levels. In terms of a location for the anime and manga fan, I’d honestly top it out over the mecca of Akihabara. (Though to be fair, I think this has to do a bit with my tastes in anime and manga. Those are catered to more in Ikebukuro than they are in Akihabara.)
However, despite this, it’s kind of a local secret (within Japan anyway). Overseas, its name hasn’t made its way overseas as an ‘anime’ center quite yet. This makes it a nice secret getaway in a sense and one that I’m reluctant to talk about for fear of ruining it for others who know about it already and love it for that reason. That said, it’s at the end and not left off or anything. Why? Because really, if you’ve made it this far down the list, you deserve to know about it. So what is Ikebukuro (aside from the main setting of the anime “Durarara!!” )?
Not gonna lie, Ikebukuro is the freakin’ best.
A heavenly haven for otaku of all kinds, Ikebukuro is located in the northwest sector of the city. Additionally, it is home to the second busiest station in Tokyo (only beat out by Shinjuku). For the anime and manga fanbases, it primarily caters to the female population. If Akihabara is built for the gents (and trust me, it is), then Ikebukuro is built for the ladies. That said, regardless of your gender, you should go to Ikebukuro. Just briefly I’ll list out some of the best things about Ikebukuro…
Animate Honmise – An 8-9 floor Anime/Manga paradise and main store of the nation wide chain. This brand new building is a little off from Sunshine Doori (サンシャイン通). It’s right to the left if you’re coming from the station.
The Pokemon Center – Hub for Pokemon lovers the world over located inside the shopping complex Sunshine City (サンシャインシティ).
Swallowtail Butler Cafe – Literally what it sounds like. A Butler cafe. You can check out my review of Swallowtail on my other blog here. Definitely go to this one, not the competitor in Shibuya. Reservations are required!!
Sunshine Doori – A road filled with multiple entertainment outlets. It also has many alleys branching off of it that contain even more specialty shops.
Otome Road (乙女ロード) – Lit. “Maiden Road”; a road filled with shops primarily catering to female fans of anime and manga.
SEGA Game Center – A massive Gaming Complex – be sure to go inside to play crane games, taiko, and virtual reality simulations! If you’re an anime fan or a fan of video games, it’s a must visit!
Closet Child – Alternative Fashion Store, there is also a branch in Harajuku (on Takeshita Doori) worth checking out as well.
Cosplay Road (コスプレロード) – A secret little road lined with shops for cosplayers. <3 <3 <3
Animate Cafes – Stylized cafes revolving around specific animes that change with every new season. Go online or call in advance for a reservation!
Cosset Cosplay Studio – Part of the Hacos Cosplay Studio brand, this branch is located in the old Animate Honmise building on Otome road and contains various sets built for cosplayers. Be warned, don’t come in cosplay – bring your cosplays in a suitcase and change there! Cosplays are not provided here, but are available for purchase on surrounding floors in shops such as ACOS and Lashinbang. On the top floor is also an Animate Cafe with a souvenir or omiyage (おみやげ) shop on the bottom floor.
Maidreamin’ – Another branch of the highly popular chain that is located on Sunshine Doori.
Milky Way Cafe – Only the most gloriously wonderful cafe to end your day at with intergalactic themed parfait and ice cream desserts!
That’s only a BRIEF list. There are also multiple second hand shops like Yellow Submarine, K Books (lots and lots of K Books), and Lashinbang scattered around Ikebukuro as well. The best area of Ikebukuro in my opinion is the east side of the station around Sunshine doori. So head there first when you go! I’ll be going over in depth the glories of Ikebukuro another day. But needless to say, if you’ve made it all the way down to the end of this list, as I said above, you not only deserve to know about this place, you deserve to go there. It’s just that good.
Tokyo is an amazing city which has grown, adapted, and changed with every decade of its existence, reflecting one of Japan’s inner strengths – the ability to be what is needed and wanted for the time. That said, it’s easy to see how the anime and manga industry would so heavily affect and give way for these many cool locations that as a fan, you just have to go to! There are plenty more places within Tokyo that are worth going to as a general tourist and even for fans of specific genres or shows. After all, if your favorite series takes place in Tokyo, more likely than not, there are many real world locations that inspired locale seen in your books and shows.
I will be going over some of my favorite “cameo” spots for various series in the future. But for the time being, you’d be surprised how many places you can find on your own. Simply by type in the series and the name of the location that they name in the series. Plot out places on Google maps and bring pictures of the location from the show. When you do, you can recreate some of your favorite shots with your camera! How cool is that?
Other great things to Google and search for include themed restaurants, which I will also cover in future posts. You can find everything from Samurai Restaurants to Vampire and Square Enix cafes in Tokyo. These also often do fun collaborations with current and popular anime. These have been particular favorites of mine as they almost always are changing up in some way or another. So your experience can be different every time!
Similarly, there are many shops and even theme parks that will just pop up, almost over night seemingly, that are dedicated to specific shows or series. So do your research before going if you can, using the kanji/kana of the original series whenever possible. There might be a new place that no one overseas knows about just yet that is only being talked about in Japan (and thus, in Japanese only). You can usually translate roughly using Google Chrome’s translate feature. This is a huge life hack for travelers in Japan!
Perhaps though, the best thing about going to Tokyo, and traveling in general, is just walking around and finding niche little spots that no one else knows about. I know most of my favorite spots in Tokyo are not places that were spoken of online. They were on third or fourth floors of little buildings that I just dared to explore and climb up to. This is unique to Tokyo as it’s so safe!
As always, good luck with your endeavors. I hope this Top 10 Places for the Anime fan list, from someone who lived there and frequently returns, will help you in plotting out your must hit places. And hopefully, you’ll find in and around these places some real gems that will give you awesome memories. 🙂
Till next time,
BONUS FOR THE ANIME FAN!
Looking for more places to visit in Tokyo to satisfy your little nerdy heart? 4 places that didn’t make it onto this list, for reasons such as location (all but one are outside of Tokyo technically) include:
The Yamanote Line (This is a famous train line sometimes depicted in Anime. It’s a train loop that makes its way around the epicenter of the city. So more likely than not you’ll ride it at some point as you make your way around Tokyo). 🙂
So if you have the chance, be sure to check out these places as well! You certainly won’t regret it! ^_^