Must-Read Guide Top 10 Ideas What To Do In Akihabara Tokyo
What makes millions of people visit Akihabara in Tokyo? Temples? I don’t think so. There are several reasons why it’s a must-see neighbourhood in Tokyo and we’re here to list those reasons for you. Here comes your ultimate must-read guide with 10 ideas on what to do in Akihabara Tokyo.
After all, if you’ve read our previous posts you’d know we spent the whole month in this crazy weird Tokyo area and even now, I can hardly say we’d have had enough of it.
In a nutshell, Akihabara is a neighbourhood with a vibe that’s nowhere else to be found in the world. Known for being a pretty nerdy area, it promotes otaku in any shape or form. If you want to leave Tokyo with unique experiences from your stay, look no further.
Let me tell you that know. If you don’t know what to do in Akihabara, read up a bit before visiting it as Akiba in Tokyo isn’t the easiest place to navigate around. Many things are hidden away and signs on the buildings are usually displayed in Japanese. There are virtually unlimited uncanny and often weird things to do in Akihabara but since you might be visiting Tokyo for a few days, we’ll limit ourselves here only to the essential ones.
1. Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原)
First things first. Akihabara Electric Town is by far one of the most exciting things to do in Akihabara and you should start here. Going back to the times shortly after World War II ended, Japan was undergoing a huge transformation towards a future-oriented global economy. Akihabara became the hub of the latest electronics and appliances, with some sold even illegally (gone are those days!).
Over the years, Akihabara grew in size and many skyscrapers mushroomed around, with the largest concentration of them shaping up today’s colourful Electric Town full of neon lights, best to be seen at night.
Let’s say you haven’t got a clear plan on what to do in Akihabara. My suggestion is to can start around 10sih in the morning by browsing through the latest manga releases, then move onto second-hand manga classics kept in mint condition.
The moment you’re done, there are plenty of multi-storey gaming arcades welcoming you with the profound cigarette smell. It’s time to unleash your deep fantasies and gaming urge amongst many proud otaku who can finally be themselves.
Even if you’re not into gaming or manga, the huge electronics stores conveniently located in and near Akihabara Electric Town will keep your busy. At Yodobashi Akiba or BIC Camera, you can easily spend hours, browsing for anything from gadgets, cameras, computers, drones and some really clever beauty devices. The list goes on!
2. Experience Otaku culture (おたく/オタク)
To start with, what is otaku? Otaku is a commonly used phrase in Japan and it usually refers to people with mania-like interest and obsession over anime and manga. Otaku was coined quite some time ago and it usually carries a negative meaning. However, Akihabara is where you can spot many proud otaku hanging out.
Akihabara is a must-see attraction in Tokyo whether you’re into anime or not. There are plenty of things to do in Akihabara no matter where your interests lie but you’re into Japanese culture and particularly into manga and anime, this is a place to be as you can find virtually anything in here.
First, the area of Akiba or Akihabara has a very distinctive look where the differences between fiction and reality are blurry. As soon as you exit Akihabara station, you’ll realise that this place could equally be a scene taken straight from the games. Tall, colourful buildings with bright neon lights, flashy advertisements and posters featuring anime and manga characters.
To top it off, you are bound to see cosplayers wearing some of the most painstakingly designed costumes which turn them into their favourite anime characters. I have never seen anything like this before, except for the Comic-Con and Hyper Japan events, but these events only happen several times a year, not every single day!
With already mentioned maid cafes, cosplay shops, gaming arcades, open 24/7 gaming cafes and many organised otaku events, Akihabara is going to confuse you and challenge your way of perceiving the world.
Not to mention a huge range of bookstores selling the latest manga and anime releases and numerous stores with merch from your favourite anime. Now you’re starting to get a better grasp of what to do in Akihabara, the ultimate geek paradise.
I totally understand why so many geeks are drawn to this place and of course. There are so many things to do in Akihabara Tokyo and there are many reasons why we picked it as our base in Tokyo.
If you’d like to know where to find best cosplay shops in Akihabara Tokyo, read our article here.
You can also find out more about the gaming cafes in Akihabara by reading our article best gaming cafes in Akihabara Tokyo.
3. Mario Kart Tokyo in Akihabara
I don’t know whether Mario Kart Tokyo needs any introduction anymore. In case you’re not active on social media, Mario Kart experience has been trending for a few seasons now and it’s one of the biggest highlights of one’s stay in Tokyo and has recently been topping the lists of things to do in Akihabara, Shibuya and Asakusa.
The idea behind it is to do go karting around busy streets of Tokyo in a group of friends, all dressed up in Super Mario Kart outfits. We’ve seen the groups of lads almost daily, level of excitement reaching maximum, screaming like there is no tomorrow! We even gave in ourselves but sadly, didn’t get to do it. Why?
I’ll be honest with you; because we didn’t have an international driving licence permit for Japan! Here’s our advice to you. If you want to live the moment of Mario Live edition, just make sure you learn from our mistake and apply for this document before arriving in Japan.
You can do MariCar experience in a few places around Tokyo but doing it in Akihabara seems the most appropriate. One, because you’ll be driving through some pretty busy streets of Tokyo.
Two, the scenery will look like the one seen in anime or your favourite games and three, you will fit right in wearing Super Mario outfits, one of the most recognisable cosplay outfits of all time. Akihabara is definitely one of the best places to turn into Super Mario characters but remember to keep the noise down to a tolerable level not to go OTT with your joy!
4. Maid Café Akihabara (メイド喫茶 / メイドカフェ)
There’s probably no better place to have the Maid Café experience than in Akihabara. A few streets surrounding Akihabara station offer the highest concentration od Maid Cafes in Tokyo which makes it rank number 1 in the entire world!
The concept might be a bit shocking and controversial to some people but that’s not the case in Japan. Maybe this concept was met with mixed opinions when it was introduced but the popularity of Maid Cafes in Akihabara has grown massively ever since.
As a result, there are many different themed Maid Cafes Akihabara lets you choose from, including Butler café that serves the same purpose as Maid Café but for women. Whilst it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it is certainly another quirky idea on what to do in Akihabara, especially if you are looking for unique experiences.
Don’t expect gourmet dinner, the food served at Maid Cafes is quite basic like omelette rice but looks cute and that’s the main idea behind it. You don’t go there for food, you go there to feel like a king or a master for a day, and to boost your own ego or simply enjoy the company of pretty Japanese girls dressed in sexy but innocent maid outfits. Some of the most popular are Maidreamin and Pinafore.
There’s a common misconception of Maid Cafes and the presumed sexual connotation. Bear in mind if you’re going in for other than friendly to flirtatious purposes, you’d be disappointed so don’t put your hopes up too much – there are other places in Akihabara that might offer sensual massage if that’s what you’re after. I’d dare to say that it’s totally fine to tag your girlfriend along if you like or kids if you’re travelling with a family.
Even if you don’t end up going, you should check out Akihabara in the evening when the waitresses-turned-maids are standing outside and trying to lure in Japanese salarymen (and others!). The painstakingly put on makeup and sexy-yet-innocent outfits makes each one of the girls look like live character from anime series.
If you’d like to know more about best Maid Café in Akihabara and Tokyo, check out our article to discover which one is best for you.
5. More Themed Cafes
Whilst Akiba is known to be the hub of Maid Cafes in Tokyo and even Japan, it is home to a few other themed cafes. Some of them may be quite shocking whilst others quite appealing; each to their own. Here are a few ideas on what to do in Akihabara in the afternoons and evenings.
One of the most famous ones is Gundam Café. It’s bigger than the one in Odaiba (if you want to know more about Odaiba and what to do in Odaiba, read out article about this totally futuristic neighbourhood here) and it has a wider choice of drinks and food options.
Go for Spaghetti carbonara or Char Zaku beef curry if you want more thrills out of you visit at Gundam Café. Ah, don’t forget to check out the toilet. Trust me, Gundam Café takes toilet experience to a new level and you won’t see a better one for a very long time!
AKB48 IDOL CAFE
I’ll be honest with you, it’s not really my thing but this place has always intrigued me why there were hundreds of people queuing outside, day or night. AKB48 is an official store and themed café of Tokyo group AKB48 with 48 female members.
With varied choice of themed food and special performances, I kind of understand why AKB48 idol café is so popular. After all, the name of this Tokyo-based band derives from Akihabara or, in short, Akiba.
Apparently even if you’re not into J-pop and have absolutely no clue about it, no one will be hostile to you so the curious souls are good to check it out without feeling like complete outcasts. Might as well since you’re here; you never whose performance you may come across!
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Rabbit café Bunny cafe Moff Rell Akihabara
Although cat cafes are trending in many places around the world now, they are no longer a novelty in Japan. Japan is always one step ahead of its neighbours, offering unforgettable memories from a visit to an owl café, dog café, and hedgehog café (check our video from our trip to hedgehog café here). Makes you wonder why there are so many unusual things to do in Akihabara and other parts of Tokyo.
If you want something even more unique, check out a cute rabbit café in Akihabara, either Bunny cafe Moff Rell or Rabbit Lovers Café (ラビットラバーズカフェ). It’s about 1100 yen for 30 minutes of carefree play with these cuddly cuties.
It gets stranger guys. In Akihabara, you can find a ‘co-sleeping’ or cuddle café where you can nap next to a pretty Japanese girl and even stay overnight. Obviously, this comes at a premium price and does not involve anything else than a cuddle or spooning.
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The idea behind the cuddle cafe is give you the feel of what’s like being in a relationship, by hugging and simply being close to another person but this is where it ends.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s a place where you can have a clone of yourself. Starting with your head printed on a 3D printer, you can pick the body and the outfit to match your head. The most popular ones are special events like weddings but it’s all up to you, after all you’re the ultimate payer! It comes at a hefty price but at the end of the day you walk out with a miniature of you.
Are you excited, surprised or maybe disturbed about the strange concepts and things to do in Akihabara? Ready for more?
If you’d like to find out more about the weirdest and best themed cafes in Akihabara Tokyo, check out our article here.
6. Itasha Anime Decorated Cars – Otaku Car Heaven (痛車)
If I had to name the neighbourhoods with the most bizarre things we saw in Tokyo, it would be Akihabara and Odaiba. Whilst Odaiba is by far the most futuristic out of all neighbourhoods in Tokyo put together, Akihabara is quintessential Tokyo, serving to you some of the most peculiar things on its very unusual menu.
Whilst we knew about some of the unconventional concepts widely practiced in Akihabara before arriving in Japan, somehow the flashy anime decorated cars didn’t reach our radar during researching phase.
This is partly the reason why we decided to write this guide and list some of the truly unique ideas on what to do in Akihabara so you can have a better experience in Tokyo and discover more in less time.
If happen to be in Akihabara in the evening, you have a high chance of spotting some of the most geeked-out cars covered in nothing else but anime of game characters. The majority of them have cute female characters, usually featured in abnormally short skirts or other quite revealing outfits augmenting their assets.
There’s even a proper name for it! These anime-decorated cars are actually called Itasha. Itai means pain in Japanese, sha means vehicle. Put the two words together and you get a car that’s either painful one’s wallet, to look at or painfully embarrassing. I’ll let you be your judge.
Want to know more about Itasha and know where to find these fancy cars in Akihabara, Tokyo and other parts of Japan? Read our article about best places to find Itasha, the anime decorated cars in Tokyo Japan.
7. Your One Stop Akihabara Shop Guide
Let me clarify here, not talking about fashion shopping per se. You’ll hardly find it in Akihabara. I’m referring to shopping for electronics, games, cosplay, manga and all sorts of anime gadgets you can possibly think of. Oh, did I mention Japanese high-quality dolls? No, not Barbie, these ones are serious collectors’ dolls and they are very, very expensive, going for around 300 pounds to start with.
Otaku Goodies – Anime Figurines, Posters and other Merchandise
Akihabara is different. Like, seriously different from anywhere else in Japan. This is what makes it unique and very special. If you are into anime (well, since you’re planning your trip to Akihabara the I bet you are), then you’d understand it.
Being there feels like real life anime where the differences between reality and fiction are blurred. If Imagine yourself walking down Akihabara; sometimes it will feel like you’ve become part of the crowd featured in one of the episodes of Steins;Gate, Accel World or Outbreak Company.
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Anime Store Guide & Merchandise
The very first shop you should stop at is Animate. Get an idea of how big this store is by going up through several floors, your eyes and legs are guaranteed to feel tired after a single visit to get your, latest manga, not-easily accessible anime, your favourite anime gadgets and even themed food inside this giant anime superstore.
If you’re after some particular figurine, try Mandarake Akihabara, they have a very wide choice, along with another figure company called Kotobukiya.
Bookstores with Manga and Anime
We all want to have at least one Japanese book brought back from our stay in Japan. Make it not just any Japanese book but your favourite manga or something you won’t be able to get back in your country.
Luckily, you’re in Akihabara where you’re totally spoilt for choice but don’t let the tons of paper inside these colourful quirky tall buildings overwhelm you. A good start would be Animate, Mandarake and Tora no Ana and K-Books if you don’t mind a second-hand manga in kept in mint condition.
One of the best choices for doujinshi (同人誌). If you’re after a particular title, Toranora is a place where you can expect to find some manga titles that are difficult to find anywhere else.
There are also a few other places where you could find your favourite manga for less than a bag of crisps. If you want to know about all those places in more detail, read more about the best bookshops in Akihabara Tokyo here.
Shop Electronics at Yodobashi Akihabara
For anyone coming from a large city in Europe or America, the selection of electronics squeezed to a few humongous shopping centres and backstreets is going to be too much to handle at once. My suggestion is to take it easy unless you’re on a time constraint. Make sure you add it to your bucket list of things to do in Akihabara, it’s going to be fun discovering things you never knew you needed!
Spending a couple of hours browsing through the latest electronics combined with some second-hand parts at independent stores will be enough unless you want somethings specific.
The two most obvious electronic megastore giants are Yodobashi Camera (株式会社ヨドバシカメラ) and Bic Camera (株式会社ビックカメラ), with the Yodobashi Akiba being the most iconic symbol of Akihabara, located right outside Akihabara station. It won’t hurt checking out Sofmap (ソフマップ) selling both new and used electronics.
There are even a few second-hand electronic stores and mega superstores like Laox and Don Quijote Akihabara that don’t focus purely on electronics but have a pretty wide selection of them too.
Not to mention Hard off Akihabara branch with very affordable electronics and even instruments! Wow!
Shop for Games
Looking for some nerdy ideas on what to do in Akihabara in Tokyo? Although your first point of contact with the gaming world should be Super Potato with a very wide selection of its merchandise, BEEP is where you might want to get for some old school games that have disappeared from the game shop shelves not years, but even decades ago.
Retro Game Camp may be a good option but since it’s much smaller, it doesn’t offer the same selection as Super Potato. Since the list of gaming shops is pretty long, you can read the full article about the best game shops in Akihabara Tokyo here.
Check out our ultimate guide on where to shop in Akihabara to save time and get the best deals here.
8. Akihabara Cosplay experience (コスプレ)
Here’s some really cool idea on what to do in Akihabara which you can thank me for later. Cosplay is very popular in Japan and Akihabara is literally a mecca for anyone looking for the most unique and top-quality costume. If you’re new to this term, cosplay stems from two words, costume and play. This term was coined quite a while ago, as it dates back to 1984 and has been on the rise ever since.
Don’t confuse it with Mardi Gras or Halloween outfits, cosplay costume is an embodiment of the manners and the personality of a specific character, usually from anime series. It’s so popular that it’s no longer available only in Japan.
In fact, there are huge conventions taking place across the globe, whether it’s in the US, Cosplay Mania in Philippines, EOY Cosplay Festival in Singapore , Japan Expo in Paris or London MCM Expo and the London Super Comic Convention held in the UK.
So now that you know it, you can start your own adventure. For those who are perfectly familiar with the concept of cosplay (sorry for the oversimplification!) you can start your shopping with getting an idea of what you at Cospa selling official clothing and accessories. Just so that you know, the prices there might be pretty high but you can find cheaper alternatives. Then, make a trip to Akiba Cultures Zone for a shopping spree.
ACOS and Animate are amongst a few to visit and undergo a successful full makeover into your favourite anime character but you are far from completing your shopping adventure. In fact, this is only the beginning of your cosplay journey! There’s even a theatre where you can see underground idols holding musical shows on stage live for those daifan otaku out there. The cheaper option is Mitsubado it will save you a fortune.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can expect to have a full makeover including a photoshoot at Studio Crown in Sasage building, one of the best cosplay shops offering personalised makeup and getting all props you need for that special occasion to complete your journey in Tokyo as an ultimate otaku, quite the opposite of getting a geisha makeover just over 40 minutes walking distance in the nearby Asakusa.
If you want to know more about how to make the most of your money in Akihabara and where to buy the best cosplay in Akihabara Tokyo, check out our article here.
9. Capsule Toys AKA Gachapon (ガチャポン)
For some that may not be familiar with this term, Gachapon or Gashapon (slightly different spelling ガシャポン) is a capsule toy. The closest you can possibly compare it the one you’d see in the funfairs where you slot a pound in, turn the knob and the random toy gets dispensed. Well, in Japan these capsule toys have been very popular for years and they look way better that the funfair ones.
Thanks to its growing popularity, you can find vending machines dispensing capsule toys in many places throughout Japan in entertainment districts and better shopping malls. It’s a great souvenir for your friends who are totally into anime. Not to mention if you have younger siblings, nieces or nephews in your family.
Some Gacha are very unique and are worth quite a lot as they are collectibles, a bit like like stamps in the past. I guess now you get the gist why so many people look for them! By far, this will make you feel like a kid again.
One of the best places for it in entire Tokyo is Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan, also going under its English name Akihabara Capsule Toy Center. Why is it so special? As soon as you walk in, you’ll be dumbfounded how many of them are out there!
The whole store display is filled with gachapon dispensers, from the very bottom of your feet right up to the ceiling. The shop floor of Gachapon Center is narrow and designed to maximise the space for the toys.
Best thing? On average you are expected to put in 200 Yen in 100 Yen coins and the most bizarre things come out. You can pick the gatcha dispenser with Dragon Ball Super, Naruto, Gintama or the trending cat hats. Here’s a little takeaway lesson. Why not check out trending Gacha games for Android and Apple? Japan never disappoints with its creative mindset, whatever it may be.
10. Gaming arcades and Pachinko
If you ever thought you knew all about gaming, you should redefine it with what the Japanese and South Koreans consider a proper gaming marathon. This is why making a trip to Akihabara will be a real eye-opener to many. I think I don’t need to tell you why these gaming arcades are voted as one of the most exciting things to do in Akihabara. You will not want to leave them, unless you need to get some fresh air (literally, the smoke inside is pretty awful!).
There are several humongous, multi-storey gaming arcades you should visit, even to experience what real otaku smells like (trust me, it’s the smell of cigarettes!). SEGA is one of the most iconic gaming destinations with many special machines, including horse racing and betting machines.
Taiyo Hey Akihabara
Taito’s Hey is a good place for the old-time gamers offering retro gaming arcade experience. Then there’s also Tokyo Leisure Land which I personally quite enjoyed.
Why? It has five floors, plenty of room and the second floor of Tokyo Leisure Land is dedicated to music games. Perfect for those who don’t necessarily play games are pros (myself) but don’t mind incorporating music to the old-fashioned gaming scene. Perfect for kids and grownup adults!
Taito Station Akihabara
Alternatively, try Taito station Akihabara. It has hundreds of arcade games and just as many prize games. I don’t want to put you off trying to win a toy but we didn’t win a single one, even though we went in quite a few times!
However, we did see some people who won massive plush toys or gigantic boxes of Pocky. You can try your skills at high-tech virtual reality games but we didn’t get around to do it – the queues for them were always long and it’s advised to book them in advance!
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Whilst gaming arcades and pachinko parlours are a must-see in Akihabara, spending excessive amount of time there will always make you realise that for some people this is a reality, a lifestyle that I personally wouldn’t want to choose myself.
Just be prepared for the highest concentration of cigarette smoke you’ll ever be forced to inhale in your entire life as there are no bans on smoking inside them! A single trip to the gaming arcade is a killer to your lungs and almost a guaranteed way to shorten your life expectancy voluntarily.
More Things to do in Akihabara
There are many more cool ideas on what to do in Akihabara, like visiting a famous Don Quijote Akihabara or Laox, trying your performance skills at Karaoke studios, diving into delicious B-gourmet ramen and succulent yakitori, chilling at underground themed game bars open 24/7, manga drawing classes or visiting Kanda Myojin temple that gave name to Akihabara.
Interested to know more about what to do in Akihabara? Simply leave a comment below with any questions you may have and we’ll reply with an answer to it. It will also help fellow readers get a better travel experience when visiting Akihabara in Tokyo.
This is why we prepared separate articles for you on best shops in Akihabara Tokyo and best restaurants and themed cafes in Akihabara Tokyo where you can read more in-depth about what’s worth buying and where exactly to look for it.
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We know for a fact that the moment you see the colossal neon buildings, you are going to take in the vibe of this totally anime-centred Tokyo neighbourhood. Just remember to have this page saved or make some notes on your favourite things to do in Akihabara so you can tick them off your list and make the most of your precious time there.
There you have it, our top unique 10 ideas on to do in Akihabara Tokyo which also means you’ve successfully come to an end of this article! We hope you’ve found this list totally unusual and full of interesting things you probably didn’t know about Akihabara. Have fun!
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