[Permanent Edition] 20 Things to Do in Akihabara, From the Classics to Hidden Gems
Akihabara in Tokyo is known as a mecca for anime lovers and electronics enthusiasts. Lately, however, this famous neighborhood is also experiencing a rise in popularity due to the wide variety of eateries and different stores you can find there. In this article, you will get to know more about the numerous attractions Akihabara has on offer, from mainstream tourist sites to under-the-radar places only locals know about!
- 1. Meet Your Favorite Idols at Akiba Cultures Zone
- 2. Enjoy Board Games with Lovely Maids at AKIBA GUILD
- 3. Buy Home Appliances at Bic Camera AKIBA
- 4. Catch Prizes at the Claw Machines at SEGA Akihabara Building 1
- 5. Eat Noodles at the Popular Ramen Restaurant Kuroki
- 6. Experience Japan’s History at Yushima Seido
- 7. Get Your Hands on Some Regional Japanese Condiments and Seasonings at CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE
- 8. Enjoy the Universe of Gundam at Gundam Cafe Akihabara Branch
- 9. Visit Kanda Shrine
- 10. Relax at Nagomi Style Cafe AKIBA
- 11. Experience Japan’s “Moe” Culture in a Maid Cafe
- 12. Have Lunch at AKIBA ICHI inside Akihabara UDX
- 13. Try the Gacha-Gacha Machines at Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan
- 14. Buy Old Games at Super Potato Akihabara Branch
- 15. Purchase Anime Figures at Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise
- 16. Enjoy Akihabara’s Atmosphere at the Akihabara Electric Town Area
- 17. Buy Souvenirs Unique to Akihabara at Akihabara Radiokaikan
- 18. Do Some Shopping at mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
- 19. Buy Gorgeous Home Accessories at 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN
- 20. Come in Contact with the Otaku Culture at Animate Akihabara Main Building
1. Meet Your Favorite Idols at Akiba Cultures Zone
Akiba Cultures Zone houses the largest theater in Akihabara. Here you can watch live performances by numerous idol groups from up-close! The facility also has a shopping area where you will find close to – believe it or not – 900 displays filled with anime-related goods, figurines, and much more. If you are lucky you might even find some rare items! Just keep in mind that, though most of the products here are for sale, some of them are only for exhibition. Akiba Cultures Zone is a trendsetting place for the pop subculture of Akihabara that offers people a chance of meeting their favorite idols as well as getting their hands on some anime products.
2. Enjoy Board Games with Lovely Maids at AKIBA GUILD
AKIBA GUILD is a new kind of maid cafe designed to look just like a casino. But only “look like,” because gambling in Japan is actually against the law. So don’t worry because everything here is legal. You can enjoy the atmosphere and play a wide array of casino games but without the tension that comes with it. All the dealers here are dressed in lovely maid costumes which will guarantee you an unforgettable Akihabara experience! AKIBA GUILD is the perfect place to dip your toe into the world of Japanese maid cafes, offering first-timers a carefree environment to play and interact with the staff.
3. Buy Home Appliances at Bic Camera AKIBA
Inaugurated in 2017, Bic Camera AKIBA is an electronics store that specializes in home appliances. From the 1st floor to the 7th, the store provides a wide variety of household devices and appliances, not to mention glasses, contact lenses, and all sorts of everyday products. And don’t worry about carrying all the bags home with you because Bic Camera delivers overseas! Take the opportunity to check out some of Japan’s home appliances. You will be amazed by some of the latest products!
4. Catch Prizes at the Claw Machines at SEGA Akihabara Building 1
Akihabara is not only the land of anime but of games as well! The famous SEGA Akihabara Building 1, located at Akihabara’s main street, hosts a wide range of popular arcade games, not to mention some of the newest releases on the market. One thing that you most definitely need to try here is the claw machines. Lock your aim in your favorite prize and put your luck and skill to the test! Beware not to get completely carried away and spend too much money though! The facility also has many dancing and rhythm games that you can enjoy with a group of friends. SEGA Akihabara Building 1 has always been very popular among the Japanese but lately, it has seen a rise in popularity among foreign tourists too! Grab the opportunity to play with locals! What better way to have a fun cultural exchange than through games!
5. Eat Noodles at the Popular Ramen Restaurant Kuroki
Akihabara is well-known for its pop subculture and electronics, but did you know that the neighborhood is also considered one of the most competitive areas for ramen restaurants in Tokyo? Here you will find all styles of ramen noodles: from the light and delicate to rich and heavy. One restaurant that has been attracting a lot of attention as of late is Kuroki. Here you can try their Tokusei Shio Soba (1,250 JPY (incl. tax)), a bowl of noodles specially prepared with a variety of Japanese ingredients in a shio (salt-based) soup. The flavorful ingredients and mild-tasting soup that stick perfectly to the thin noodles create an amazingly delicate dish. This exquisite ramen is only served in Akihabara so don’t miss your chance when you are visiting the area!
6. Experience Japan’s History at Yushima Seido
In Akihabara, you can come in contact not only with Japanese culture but with Japanese history as well at an old Confucian temple called Yushima Seido. This temple was built by shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, a famous historical figure who achieved notoriety for establishing a law against cruelty to living beings* in the 17th century. An enthusiastic learner, Tsunayoshi is said to have built Yushima Seido in honor of Chinese philosopher Confucius. The shrine attracts tens of thousands of students every year who come to pray for good results in the entrance exams. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a while and immerse yourself in the history of Japan. *The law was prescribed to protect the lives of sick individuals, orphans, and animals, such as cattle, horses, cats, and dogs, but it also forbade the use of fish, shellfish, and birds for human consumption, which ended up causing a lot of suffering to the people.
7. Get Your Hands on Some Regional Japanese Condiments and Seasonings at CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE
You can come into contact with Japan's deep and diverse food culture at CHABARA AKI-OKA MARCHE, an indoor market that procures carefully selected seasonings, condiments, and sauces from all over Japan. You can bring these ingredients back home with you, so why not try adding some Japanese flair to your cooking as a secret ingredient? There is also an annexed restaurant that serves shojin ryori* cuisine, which has been beloved in Japan since ancient times. All in all, this is a great place to go to experience the wonders of the world-famous food culture of Japan!
*Shojin Ryori: a type of cuisine in Japan that uses no meat or fish and focuses on using seasonal ingredients.
8. Enjoy the Universe of Gundam at Gundam Cafe Akihabara Branch
Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most influential anime ever created and if you are a fan of the series you have got to visit the Gundam Cafe, located in Akihabara. From the outside appearance and interior design to the food and drink menu, everything here was created taking into consideration elements seen in the world of Gundam. Try the Gundam Cafe Latte (486 JPY (incl. tax)) for a cup of latte drawn with popular characters of the series. There are plenty of dishes here that will make you want to take a picture! Dive deep into the universe of Gundam!
9. Visit Kanda Shrine
Have you ever heard about the Kanda Festival, one of the three largest festivals in Japan? This very traditional festival is held in Kanda Shrine, which is located in, yes, you guessed right, Akihabara! This ancient shrine has an astonishing 1300 years of history. Said to bestow blessings for those who come to wish for prosperity in business, thousands of people visit the shrine during New Year’s to pray for good luck. If you are looking for a big break at your work, how about paying a visit? But besides the blessings, the Main Hall with its iconic vermilion red color has been designated as a National Tangible Cultural Property by the Japanese government and this alone is well worth a visit!.
10. Relax at Nagomi Style Cafe AKIBA
Nagomi Style Cafe AKIBA is an internet and manga cafe designed to look just like a traditional Japanese inn from Kyoto. In addition to a full lineup of drinks and foods, the facility is also equipped with shower rooms and supplies patrons with garments to wear inside the premises. Whether you just want to rest for a while or want to have a relaxing meal while reading some manga, this place is for you! Not mention that it is open 24 hours! Find a time slot and plan that best suits your needs and have a great time. For more detailed information, be sure to check their homepage.
11. Experience Japan’s “Moe” Culture in a Maid Cafe
Maid cafes are one of Akihabara’s most representative attractions. These cafes where girls dressed in cute maid costumes talk to the patrons addressing them by “goshujin-sama” (sir) and “ojo-sama” (my lady) can be said to be one of the symbols of Japan’s moe* culture. Recently, more and more people from abroad visit maid cafes. One of such places is “@home cafe,” a very popular maid cafe that has welcomed some 5,000 foreign visitors during a single month in the past. You would think that the reason for its popularity is because the maids here speak perfect English, but that is not it at all. What fascinates many patrons is the fact that every single maid tries her best to be friendly and communicate, be that by using gestures or facial expressions. You don’t have to worry about not being able to understand Japanese. Just enjoy your time with the lovely maids and find out what the moe culture is all about. *Moe is a slang that is said when an anime female character is so cute and lovely that your heart starts beating faster. Young people in Japan use the word in a wide of array of situations nowadays.
12. Have Lunch at AKIBA ICHI inside Akihabara UDX
Akihabara UDX is a commercial facility complex that houses different stores, restaurants, meeting rooms, spaces for events, and much more. Inside the complex, you find AKIBA ICHI, a wide area filled with a variety of restaurants serving delicious Japanese food, including tempura, ramen, unagi (grilled eel), tonkatsu (pork cutlets), and sushi. It might take some time for you to decide what to eat because there is so much to choose from here. You will probably get hungry after all the walking around Akihabara, so how about having lunch here?
13. Try the Gacha-Gacha Machines at Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan
While walking the streets of Japan, you might encounter lines of funny-looking machines standing one beside the other and filled with round capsules (as shown on the left side of the picture above). These are what you could call "toy vending machines" and all you have to do is insert a coin, turn the lever and wait for the capsule to drop with your prize inside. However, because of the variety of toys a single machine holds, you cannot choose exactly the one you want. Opening the capsule to see what toy you got is part of the fun! These machines are affectionately called “gacha-gacha” in Japanese; an onomatopoeia for the sound the lever does when you turn it. Akihabara is known as the “land of gacha-gacha” and Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan alone has more than 500 of them. Every month the machines feature newly released toys! It only costs as low as 100 JPY to play, so you can try your luck without any worries. Gacha-gacha machines have been cherished by the Japanese for a long time now, so how about taking the opportunity and give them a shot?
14. Buy Old Games at Super Potato Akihabara Branch
NES, SNES and Playstation are only a few examples of famous video game consoles Japanese companies have created in the past. Even to this day millions of people worldwide enjoy playing Japanese games. If there is one place that video game lovers should definitely visit is the second-hand store Super Potato Akihabara Branch. Here you can get your hands on some very nostalgic Japanese games and even some rare consoles which were very hard to find back in the day. The store also has snacks and a floor where you can play old arcade games. Experience what the Japanese game culture is all about in a very retro atmosphere that only a second-hand store could offer.
15. Purchase Anime Figures at Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise
Volks Hobby Paradise is a landmark of Akihabara. This massive shop handles everything that you can imagine about anime, including figures and anime-related goods. Its 8 floors are filled with all sorts of items and anime characters making the store a dream come true for fans of Japanese animation. Be sure to check every inch of the store so that you don't miss out on that item you have been looking for! The top floor is reserved for special events and always has something fun going on. Hobby Paradise also has a souvenir area where you can purchase something unique to remind you of your visit to Akihabara.
16. Enjoy Akihabara’s Atmosphere at the Akihabara Electric Town Area
The lively and colorful Akihabara we have today prospered as a neighborhood where you could find all sorts of electronics and electric components. This region is unlike anywhere else in Tokyo so even if you already know where you want to go, you should definitely take some time to stroll around and look at the façade of the buildings located in the Electric Town area; especially at night when the neon lights of the countless shops shine bright. The contrast between the day time and night-time atmosphere is one of Akihabara’s main features. As you will realize, there is much more to Akihabara than just shopping and eating.
17. Buy Souvenirs Unique to Akihabara at Akihabara Radiokaikan
If you are looking for souvenirs, Akihabara Radiokaikan is the place for you! Here you will find many limited-edition sweets and goods that you can only buy in Akihabara. There is a wide range of products that feature popular anime characters. Take the opportunity to get some gifts that you won’t find anywhere else in the world to remind you of your trip to Akihabara.
18. Do Some Shopping at mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
A long time ago, there was a station called Manseibashi Station between Kanda Station and Ochanomizu Station, on the JR Chuo Line. mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi is a unique commercial facility constructed under the renovated viaduct that used to serve Manseibashi Station back in the day. The red-brick facade of the building is very charming and makes you feel the history of the city. After sunset, you can see the beautiful reflection of the facility in the river. Don’t miss the chance to visit this place where old and new meet.
19. Buy Gorgeous Home Accessories at 2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN
2k540 AKI-OKA ARTISAN is a shopping area located under the elevated rail tracks that connect Akihabara Station to Okachimachi Station. Prepare yourself to be amazed as soon as you step foot inside this highly creative space. Here you will find an abundance of handmade goods, such as jewelry and leather accessories, all created by skillful artisans. This commercial facility has many attractions on offer, including cafes and exhibitions, so you can enjoy a relaxing time immersed in creativity.
20. Come in Contact with the Otaku Culture at Animate Akihabara Main Building
Animate is a traditional gathering spot for anime enthusiasts or “otaku” as they like to be called. It is the largest anime retail chain store in Japan, with some 120 branches spread across the country. Animate Akihabara Main Building has a wide range of products which include anime merchandise, anime figures and all sort of publications, such as manga and comic books. If you are really lucky you might even run into a famous voice actor or actress, or a singer of anime songs taking part in one the many events the store holds! This is a mainstream location that you definitely don't want to miss while visiting Akihabara.
Akihabara is overflowing with incredible places to go and fun things to do! The Electric Town, pop subculture, historic buildings, amazing food, new sightseeing spots, and much more; you find everything here! Enjoy Akihabara from a multitude of angles!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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