In Tokyo there is one district that we explored in its entirety: Akihabara. Akihabara is often called the electric city and is stuffed with stores where you can buy all kinds of electronics. We saw a store selling random old computer parts, we saw a large store where one floor was covered with graphic cards only, the next with HDDs, the next with computer cases…, we saw one store that only had CABLES, cables everywhere! Of course this is not the (only) reason us youngsters would want to visit this place… Akihabara is also stuffed with all kinds of Japanese media and character goods for people obsessed with those media (otaku). As someone who loves Visual Novels and collecting figures, I didn’t go to Akihabara without a list of stuff I wanted to look for. Also for recommendations of stores that I think are must-visits, see the bottom of this article.
Visual Novel shoppings
Of course the first things on the list were some visual novels. I heard of the Sofmap stores where you can get almost any VN, mostly for some pretty good prices (at least compared to importing). Instead of instantly buying everything at Sofmap, we decided to look around in other stores before buying something, because you can find the same VNs in the back alleys as well, sometimes for even lower prices. At the end we ended up buying 2 out of a total of 6 VNs at Sofmap.
On the main strip there were some stores where we visited the basements and looked between the porn manga, games and books. It was quite the experience to see huge amounts of Japanese business men casually picking their favorite porn from the shelves after carefully inspecting the insides first (books). Some of the stores also had some porn examples playing on screens throughout the store, and people were casually watching those too, which was a pretty weird but still amazing experience (I guess?). Most of the time you could find some famous VNs between the porn, but normally the prices were pretty even compared to Sofmap. However if you are lucky, you can find some VNs for a few 1000 yen cheaper. I picked up Muramasa in one of these stores.
I think one of my favorite VN stores in Akiba is Kamifusen. If you’re looking for a VN and can’t find it at Sofmap, try searching for it at Kamifusen. If Kamifusen doesn’t have it either then you’re probably not going to find it in Akihabara at all. We bought 3 VNs there for prices a lot lower than Sofmap offered for their second hand copies. Besides VNs they also had some figures on the second floor, which in some cases were cheaper than in other stores. We picked up the Kotobukiya Sumika figure there for 1000 yen cheaper than the price in other stores (if she wasn’t sold out already).
PVC figure shoppings
Strolling the main strip of Akiba we noticed the HUGE amount of PVC figures in showcases, so it didn’t take long before we took on a figure hunt. Compared to VNs, figures aren’t that hard to get in the west and the prices do not differ too much if you are looking in the normal stores. If you however take the time to stroll through all the stores filled with cases on the mainstrip and after that the backalleys and check out every store that looks like it could potentially be a goodie store, you might be able to find some unbelievably cheap stuff! We’ve seen a figure for half the price we could get it if we would import it (excluding import fees), we decided not to buy it yet before we strolled the alleys. We found the same figure in a store which looked pretty hidden to us, it was called Jungle Entertainment Hobby Shop and we found our figure for half the price of the stores on the main strip (so 25% of the price we would pay when importing). I enjoyed buying a lot of stuff this way, even though my feet were tired after walking way too much through the Akiba streets, I had my stuff cheaper (Dutch blood…)! A lot of stores don’t look like it on the outside, but we’ve found some plain looking buildings literally filled with character goods/figures.
From left to right: Sumika (MLA) – plastic kit Takemikazuchi Type-00A – Ayamine (MLA) – Hoshijiro (Sidonia no Kishi) – Tsukuyomi (MLA) – Cryska (MLA:TE) – Faris (Steins;Gate) – Shannon (Umineko)
We built the plastic kit ourselves the first day back at home. We picked up two other boxes too of the same series, but these are still waiting to be built!
Left: Takemikazuchi Type-00R, Right: Takemikazuchi Type-00F
Akihabara has a lot of stores that sell character goods like key chains, straps, posters, pens, mugs and much more things I can’t even think of right now. The bigger stores are sorted by show or game, while some of the smaller stores are sorted by product e.g.; all key chains together, all mugs together. I don’t know why, but I expected to find a lot of these things from a lot of different shows. That would mean not only from the current popular shows, but also from shows that were really popular a few years ago. Not watching too much anime myself these days, I couldn’t even recognize half of the things they sold in those stores. From the (somewhat) older popular things, they had the same things in every single one of those stores: Steins;Gate, Fate series, Shingeki no Kyojin, Sword Art Online and Evangelion. If you are going to Akihabara expecting to finally pick up a few nice character goods from your favorite -non airing- shows, don’t expect you will find too much of them. Unless it was really REALLY big, or if theres still an ongoing manga or light novel or even something that makes it still get a little bit of attention, you shouldn’t bother looking for it.
Beside the big shopping street of Akihabara there is also a smaller place you should visit if you’re looking for figures, manga, and character goods: Nakano Broadway in Nakano. It is basically Akihabara concentrated in 2 floors of the Nakano Broadway building. It’s a really nice place to stroll around and check out some character goods. We picked up some things here ourselves, including the Shannon figure for a really cheap price. Beside the usual popular things, we also saw a few character goods for older shows. We saw some Ghost in the Shell goods for example.
Recommended Akihabara stores to visit
– ホビーフィギュア （Hobby figure, blue/yellow logo) – Figures
– Animate – Some VNs
– Trader/Trader2/Trader3 – Some VNs
– Toranoana – Books, comics, books, more books, some VNs
– Radio Kaikan – Lot’s of figures and plastic kits
– First Sofmap of the mainstrip – VNs
– Big Sofmap – Lots of VNs
– Akiba Hobby – DOUJIN (lots of Touhou)
– Jungle (Entertainment Hobby Shop ) – Boxed Figures, might find something cheap!
– Kamifusen – Figures, lots of VNs
– Mandarake – For the sake of looking around, I wasn’t too wild of this store myself, but if you’re looking for something old, maybe here! it’s not that cheap though… They have a bit of everything, figures, cd’s, dvd’s, books, video games etc.