The list of things to do in Akihabara is endless, making it one of the most exciting and vibrant districts to visit in Tokyo. Akihabara is known for anime, manga, gaming, and technology culture, Akihabara has something for everyone. Whether you're a tech enthusiast, a fan of Japanese pop culture, or simply looking for something new to explore, Akihabara has plenty of activities and attractions to offer.
The buzzing shopping hub in the Japanese capital is nicknamed the “otaku heaven” by travelers and locals alike. Today, we take a closer look at the many varied attractions Akihabara has to offer, and how to best plan your visit.
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Where is Akihabara?
Also known as Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街, Akihabara denkigai), Akihabara is the district around Akihabara Station in Tokyo. While the name is used to describe the entire area, situated in the Chiyoda ward (千代田区, Chiyoda-ku) in Tokyo, you can find most of the Akihabara attractions on the crowded main street.
Akihabara’s main street is located just to the west of Akihabara Station and houses all the electronics, novelty, and pop culture stores you could desire. While the main street is typically a satisfying experience for most tourists, exploring the adjacent streets is definitely worthwhile, if time allows.
Fun Fact: Akihabara takes its name from the word “Akiba” (秋葉), which refers to a Japanese deity who controls fire. After much of the surrounding area was destroyed in an 1869 fire, locals built a shrine against fire dedicated to that deity, hence the area’s name.
How much time should you spend in Akihabara?
Since Tokyo is brimming with exciting things to see and do, we strongly recommend devising a schedule before your visit. This will allow you to divide your time there most efficiently, and pack in more attractions.
That being said, you should set aside at least 2-3 hours for exploring Akihabara. Depending on how much of an otaku you are, and how many of the below attractions you want to see, you may need even longer. At the very most, half a day should offer plenty of time to indulge in all the wonders of Tokyo’s otaku heaven.
Side note: “Otaku” (おたく) is a Japanese term used to describe any young person with a serious interest in the digital world. This usually means someone with an in-depth passion for computers and video games, particularly manga and anime series.
How to get to Akihabara
Since Akihabara Electric Town is situated right next to Akihabara Station, you have several options for getting there. You can reach Akihabara Station by taking one of the following lines:
- Tokyo Metro's Hibiya Line
- Sobu Line
- JR Yamanote Line
- Keihin-Tohoku Line
- Tsukuba Express
Multiple of these can be accessed from either Haneda Airport or Narita Airport, and take you to Akihabara directly. If you're planning to do a lot of travel around the Kanto region, don't miss our Ultimate Guide to the JR Tokyo Wide Pass!
Pro Tip: There are several guided tours of Akihabara. Many of them have unique, niched focuses, either on video games or on certain manga/anime series. Do consider joining a guided tour for a more in-depth, knowledgeable look at Akihabara.
(Read more about getting to Akihabara here)
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8 Things to Do in Akihabara for Gamers
Since Akihabara is known as the premier destination for gamers, there’s no shortage of excellent stops for the game-enthusiast in you. As one of the most tech-heavy areas of Tokyo (and that’s saying something!), Akihabara offers a unique blend of retro gaming experiences, and the most modern video game and digital trends.
Formerly the SEGA Game Center, GiGO is a huge red building situated right outside the train station, and one of Akihabara’s most famed arcade centers. Here, you can find vintage arcade machines offering anything you could imagine – racing, rhythm, dancing, claw machines, etc.
Pro Tip: Visitors often find it easiest to take the elevator to the top floor, and just work their way down from there, sampling the arcade machines.
Interested in more of the cultural rules and norms that make up Japanese society? Read our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Customs here!
2. Super Potato
Speaking of gaming, and speaking of retro, Super Potato is the place to relive your childhood, or just explore the early days of video games. Super Potato is a three-floor shrine to video game history. Here, you can find a veritable treasure trove of arcade machines, and gaming systems no longer in use. You can also find a vast array of unique merchandise of all your favorite games – Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, and Sonic the Hedgehog, to name a few.
Fun Fact: Since the machines on display are (understandably) the Japanese version, they can differ quite a bit from the machines in the West, which makes for some pretty exciting discoveries for video game lovers.
Gachapon Halls can be found all over Akihabara’s main street. Inside, you’ll find dozens of coin machines that distribute tiny playthings in plastic capsules. Not only is a Gachapon hall a fun, unique experience, but it’s also a great place to scoop up some traditional, inexpensive memorabilia from your Akihabara visit.
4. Akihabara Gamers
Akihabara Gamers is by far the largest niche store in the area (and perhaps in Tokyo), and also doubles as a must-see stop for anime fans. Here, you can find merchandise, magazines, CDs, mugs, and a bunch of other unique items.
For anime and manga fans, the store offers the rather unique opportunity of meeting some of the most famous voice actors from their favorite series (so make sure you check their schedule!).
Go-karting has become a staple of Tokyo tourism by now, with many companies organizing go-kart tours of some of Tokyo’s most exciting tourist areas. Depending on the company, tour prices can range between 3,000 and 5,000 yen (roughly $20 - $36), for an hour-long ride.
Pre-pandemic, most companies threw in a full costume, so you could go-kart in style, dressed like your favorite video game character. Because of Covid-19, some companies have suspended this habit, however, they still allow you to drive the kart.
Pro Tip: Despite the video game connections, go-karting poses some safety hazards, and thus is taken seriously. To rent a go-kart, you will need to have a valid driver’s permit and follow a little training beforehand. Good news for non-drivers, though, as some companies allow you to rent a go-kart with a tuk-tuk, or attached rider.
6. VR Ninja Dojo
Under the guidance of a Master Ninja, the VR Ninja Dojo is a fully immersive introduction to the arts of shuriken, swordplay, and so on. Sporting a full ninja outfit, video game lovers have the opportunity of training as a ninja, and have their newly learned skills put to the test.
7. Hirose Entertainment Yard
Also known as Taito HEY, the Hirose Entertainment Yard might not be one of the flashiest attractions of Akihabara, but it’s definitely worthwhile for gamers. Tucked behind the upfront crane machines, you’ll find more niche 90s classics like Arika’s Tetris the Grandmasters and Capcom’s Dungeons and Dragons (on the second floor).
HEY offers a sizable selection of fighting games, as well. The third floor is decked out with classics like Street Fighter, and several Gundam Versus games.
8. Yellow Submarine
Situated right outside Akihabara Station, Yellow Submarine is an emporium specializing in game character figurines and models, as well as a broad selection of board games. At the Yellow Submarine, you can meet fellow game enthusiasts, or sample their sizable trading card collection.
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5 Best Manga/Anime Things to Do in Akihabara
Even if you’re not into video games, Akihabara is a great stop to satisfy all of your manga/anime curiosities. Here, you can meet fellow fans, and voice actors, and of course indulge in some stylish cosplay.
From used manga and anime goods at Mandarake to a vast selection of merchandise at Animate, you're sure to find something that catches your eye!
Kotobukiya is the largest hobby shop that Akihabara has to offer, spreading across three giant floors. Besides the impressive model arrangements, this is where you find figurines and toy models of your favorite anime characters. Whether you’re looking for something specific, or just want to marvel at the plethora of merchandise, Kotobukiya should be on your Akihabara bucket list!
For manga fans, Animate is a great source of fantastic, yet pricey merchandise. With regular new merch dropping in, Animate no doubt has something to fit your unique anime desires.
While new items can cost quite a lot, Animate also offers an impressive, ever-changing selection of discounted items, allowing visitors to go home with some of their favorite UFO catcher staples for less than $7!
Stretching across 8 floors, the Mandarake Centre in Akihabara doubles as a must-see for both anime and game lovers, alike. From hand-drawn fan manga to collectible cards and figurines, Mandarake has got you covered. If you don’t mind shopping for pre-owned merch, you can walk away with some vintage manga memorabilia, and get a great bargain in the process!
4. Studio Crown
Studio Crown is where you take your Akihabara experience to the next level. Basically, it allows you to rent professional cosplay costumes of your favorite game or anime characters, and wear them, as you stroll the streets of Akihabara. Not only that, a Studio Crown visit also doubles as a lesson in cosplaying, with staff members giving you tips on make-up, wig arrangement, and so on.
Alongside Mandarake and Animate, Lashinbang is one of Akihabara’s largest, most well-stocked anime merch stores. Stretched across two floors, Lashinbang offers a vast selection of anime figurines, models, and of course, magazines. Depending on your luck, and the time of your visit, you may catch them in one of their sale periods. During this time, you can get several manga crates at discounted prices.
Things to Do in Akihabara for Foodies
Even the most passionate manga and game fans will need to take a quick break, and recharge their batteries at some point. On that count, also, Akihabara has got you covered, and not just in any old way. In this super electronical district of Tokyo, even the cafes offer an unforgettable, slightly surreal experience. This way, making space in your crowded visiting schedule to grab some ramen won’t look like a waste of time, but immersion into the culture.
1. Maid Cafe
Maid cafes are a staple of Tokyo tourism, in general, though the Akihabara district is where they’re most concentrated. It’s a cultural phenomenon, where young women dressed in frilly French maid outfits serve the customers. There’s a certain degree of deference to Maid Cafes, with the maids calling the customer “Master” or “Princess”, and playing a subservient role. Even if you don’t enter a Maid Cafe, the streets in Akihabara are lined with these young women in costume, so you’re sure to get a maid sighting while there.
Not only are these types of cafes fun, they’re also largely affordable, featuring a broad menu of dishes and drinks. The Maidreamin (めいどりーみん) chain alone features seven locations in the Akihabara region, and offers fun for the entire family.
Pro Tip: In peak tourist season, these cafes can get quite crowded, so make sure you book ahead.
2. Akiba Fukurou
Ranked as one of the best cafes in Tokyo on TripAdvisor, Akiba Fukurou (アキバフクロウ) has been a hit with locals and tourists alike for the 9 years it’s been in business. This exotic animal cafe is populated by 20 adorable live owls. These are fully domesticated and pose no threat. Instead, they provide a great photo and petting opportunity for visitors.
3. AKB48 Cafe
The spacious AKB48 Cafe is actually divided into three separate areas – the theatre, the shop, and the bar itself. It’s a must-see stop for fans of Japanese pop, especially since you can purchase tickets to live J-pop performances in the theatre.
If that’s not necessarily your thing, you can still grab a drink, as well as spectate the performance on a TV screen. And of course, afterwards, you can drop by the shop, and pick up some unique memorabilia.
If you’re looking for a more dish-oriented stop, rather than a cafe, Yasubei is the place to go. This is one of the best noodle and ramen chains in the entirety of Japan. Here, you can pick a traditional bowl of ramen to satiate your hunger, or try something a little more novel, and opt for a tsukemen bowl (dripping noodles).
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Novelty Shopping in Akihabara
Of course, what would a visit to Akihabara be without some shopping? Whether you just want to window shop and marvel at the sheer diversity of available products, or you want to go home with some exciting souvenirs, check out the Akihabara shopping outlets below.
1. Manseibashi Bridge
Manseibashi Station (万世橋駅) was a train station through which the JR Chuo line ran, connecting Kanda and Ochanomizu. Although it closed down in 1943, Maseibashi Station is still very much alive today.
While retaining its vintage red brick interior, the station itself located underneath the Manseibashi railway bridge, has been converted into a bustling shopping hub. Inside, you can sample traditional Japanese food, organic coffee, as well as shop at a number of stores. You’ll find both permanent stores within the station, as well as temporary pop-up stores that will be unique to your visit.
2. M’s Pop Life
This seven-floor *ahem* adult goods shop is one of Akihabara’s more unusual marvels. The store, known simply as M’s, features a vast collection of toys, appliances, magazines, and other items designed for intimate and adventurous uses. Of course, one must be at least 18 years old to enter, and even if you’re not in the market for such items, a visit can at least provide a few giggles.
Note that you may be asked to provide ID, and that photography inside is forbidden.
3. Yodobashi Camera
As the name suggests, this nine-floor store mainly deals in the latest technology and electronics. Here, you can browse an impressive collection of cameras, as well as virtually any other electronical device or appliance that you could wish for. While Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ) is great in terms of window shopping alone, it also features items at reasonable prices, so if you’re in the market for a new camera, phone, or whatnot, Yodobashi Camera should be your next stop.
If you are in the market for Apple products, and computers, and Yodobashi Camera doesn’t meet your requirements, you might want to check out Janpara, as well. This used goods store allows you to take home Apple and PC items in good working condition, but at half the price.
Pro Tip: Worried about using the items back home? Don’t be. At Janpara, the phones and computers purchased are sold SIM lock free, so they’re not geographically restricted. Nevertheless, you might want to check with the staff before purchasing, just to make sure you’ll be able to use your chosen item fully at home.
5. Don Quijote
Finally, Don Quijote is a more generalized massive shopping outlet that offers anything and everything. It’s really a one-stop shop, featuring anything from electronigs to homeware, all at affordable prices. THe Don Quijote shopping centre is the sort of place where, even if you weren’t looking for anything when you came in, chances are you won’t go away empty-handed.
Our 3 Favorite Cultural Things to Do in Akihabara
In Akihabara, even the cultural stops take on a slightly geeky, and techy allure. That being said, here are some of our favorite stops in the district, when you’re not in a gaming/anime mood, nor do you want to get lost in a vast shopping centre. Immerse yourself in the culture, and why not, learn a little more about the fascinating history of the Akihabara district.
1. Radio Centre
While the Radio Centre might not be what you’d call a traditional museum, it’s nevertheless an important point in Akihabara’s history. After World War II, the district became known for the black market running within its crowded streets. On Akihabara’s back alleys, you could get your hands on a wide range of items that were hard to come by in normal stores. Since these heavily featured various technology items, that’s how Akihabara built this reputation as a tech mecca.
Located right outside the train station, the Radio Centre is where everything began. To this day, it hosts a vast array of phones, PCs, and other gadgets. Not to mention that old school, vintage vibe really allows you a window into Tokyo’s fascinating past.
2. Kanda Myojin Shrine
For a true break away from the neon and the skimpy outfits, make sure you check out the Kanda Myojin Shrine (神田明神). This traditional Japanese shrine was originally built almost 1300 years ago, and for much of that time, constituted a regular shrine. To this day, you can come here simply to take a breather, and enjoy a slice of tranquility, which you might need, especially in a flashy, busy city like Tokyo.
In more recent times, the Kanha Myojin Shrine has taken on a specific significance for the IT and tech crowd (of course!). Nowadays, it’s a known good-luck place for developers, coders, and everyone looking for a blessing for their new tech-y enterprise.
So whether you’re interested in the Shrine for its blessing-conferring powers, or simply as a sliver of old Tokyo, make sure you stop by.
3. Tokyo Daijingu Shrine
Finally, this one is for all the couples out there, traveling to Japan. Founded in 1880 (though moving to this particular location only in 1928, following a great earthquake), the Tokyo Daijingu Shrine (東京大神宮) is a famous wedding ceremony space. In local culture, it’s believed that the deity overlooking the shrine is an important god of love and marriage, and that unions celebrated within the Shrine’s walls will be long-lasting and happy.
Newlyweds can also visit the Inari Shrine (飯富稲荷神社), which is located on Daijingu grounds, this being a shrine for home, food, and clothing. So not only can you get your union blessed with love here, it’s also a place to ask for plenty of nourishment and warmth.
Pro Tip: One of the biggest tourist periods for Akihabara is around the New Year festivities, as well as during the spring (cherry blossom season). To enjoy better prices, as well as fewer crowds, consider traveling in the off-season.
As with the rest of your Japanese travels, planning is key. Hopefully, this list of attractions has given you a solid idea of things to do in Akihabara on your trip! Note that, since it’s a shopping-heavy district, your visit to Akihabara can cost as much or as little as you want it to.
Even if you’re traveling on a budget, visiting Akihabara can be a great, fun experience. As we’ve seen, thanks to the reasonable prices and many discounts and sales going on, chances are you’ll find some gaming, tech or anime memorabilia to take home without breaking the bank. While you're out and about, you might also want to check out:
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