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Japanese manga and anime are definitely awesome! Because it is the Big City, many scenes in popular anime are set in Tokyo. Of course, for all anime fans would like to go to places where they can buy figures or key chains in Akihabara and Ikebukuro, or maybe spend an afternoon singing their favorite anime songs. But there are more places for you to go in Tokyo – real places that appeared in anime! And guess what? We can tell you where they are!

 

Real Anime Places in Tokyo: The Cat Returns (猫の恩返し)

The Cat Returns is an animated film of Studio Ghibli, which is a story about a girl named Haru who saved the Prince of the Cat Kingdom Lune from being hit by a car on a road. After that, she was invited to the kingdom, and the King wanted her to marry the Prince. But Haru rejected the offer, and the Baron has to help her escape from the soldiers.

Real Anime Places 1

 

The sweets shop MYNT in Shin-Koenji Station is where Lune bought a gift (fish cookies for his lover) before he was saved by Haru. And the shop really sells fish cookies!

 

Real Anime Places Fish Cookie

MYNT information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Shin-Kōenji Station (Exit 1)

Hours of Operation: Mon, Wed – Sun 10:00 a.m. – 07:00 p.m.

 

Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) : Nerima Ward

The second part of our real anime places tour takes us to Nerima Ward. Your Lie in April is a very popular and touching anime in Japan, and has also been produced into a live-action film! The main character Kousei Arima was a child piano prodigy, and his mother was very strict to him because she wants him to become a famous pianist. But after his mother died in an accident, Kousei cannot hear the sound of his own performance, so he stops playing piano. One day, he meets Kaori Miyazono, a girl freely plays violin, who gradually changes his mind. The Nerima Culture Center appeared in the anime several times, where piano contests are held. Kousei often comes here.

Real Anime Places Narima Culture Center

Nerima Culture Center  (練馬文化センター) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Nerima Station (Central North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 09:00 am – 10:00 pm

 

Real Anime Places Park

Outside the Nerima Culture Center is Heisei Tsutsuji Park, where Kousei and Kaori met for the first time. Kaori was playing melodica on the top of a play structure (which does not exist in reality) for a group of children, and Kousei was touched with her performance.

Heisei Tsutsuji Park (平成つつじ公園) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Nerima Station (Central North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 09:00 am – 10:00 pm

 

THE iDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS : Sangen-Jaya Cho

My favorite anime! The story mainly focuses on the growth and changes of the idol project “Cinderella Project” in 346Production, and how they overcame their difficulties on the way to stardom.

Real Anime Places Flower Shop

This flower shop is another one of the real anime places you can visit. It was owned by Rin Shibuya, one of the main characters. In episode 1, another main character, Uzuki Shimamura came here and bought a bouquet for herself to celebrate her debut. It was also the place where Rin and Uzuki met for the first time.

Yayoi Gardening (やよい園芸)  information

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Sangen-Jaya Station (North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 10:00 am – 08:00 pm

Holiday: Wednesday (Irregular), 3 days in the beginning of the year

 

Real Anime Places Park 2

Setagaya Maruyama Park appeared in the anime twice. In episode 1, Rin was attracted by Uzuki’ s smiling face under the cherry blossoms here and decided to join the project.

The second time was in episode 23. Rin and Mio took Uzuki, who had lost confidence in being an idol, here and poured their hearts out, “You said here, right? ‘Being an idol is my dream.’” This is definitely the most touching scene among all the episodes!

The picture of the bench has become the cover of their CD “Story,” too! One of he many real anime places you can go to strike a pose! Great for your Facebook page!

 

Setagaya Maruyama Park  (世田谷丸山公園) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Sangen-Jaya Station (North Exit)

 

Love Live! (ラブライブ!) : Akihabara

Love Live! is a super popular anime in Japan, which is abouta  high-school girl named Honoka Kosaka forming a nine-person idol group “μ’s” in order to save their school from being closed down. After they succeeded, the group set the goal of getting the championship in the “Love Live,” a school idol competition for the best groups in Japan.

 

Real Anime Places Kanda Shrine

Kanda Shrine is the place where a member Nozomi Tojo works as a miko (“Shrine maiden”). The main characters often come here.

 

Real Anime Places Otoko

Don’t forget the staircase on the right hand side – Kanda Shrine Otoko Zaka (神田明神男坂)! In the anime, when the members have to do some training, Nico Yazawa suggested that they climb this staircase.

Kanda Shrine (神田明神) information

Website

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Ochanomizu Station (Exit 3) or 7-minute walk from Akihabara Station

 Real Anime Places Wagashi

And don’t forget Takemura! This old wagashi shop (a place that serves traditional Japanese confections with tea) appears as Honoka’s home in the anime.

Takemura (竹むら) information

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Awajichō Station (Exit 3) or 7-minute walk from Akihabara Station

Your Name. (君の名は。) : Suga Shrine

It’s the most famous anime in 2016! Your Name took Japan by storm–you can hear its theme song Zenzenzense (“Previous Previous Previous Life”) everywhere. The story is about Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, two high-school students who switch their bodies intermittently. Their memories fade after each swap, and they cannot even remember each other’s names. One day, Taki realized Mitsuha actually died three years prior and he tried to save her.

 

Real anime places your name

Although the real anime places from Your Name are mostly located in Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, there are some spots in Tokyo! The scene in Suga Shrine is the most recognizable one, because it’s on Your Name’s poster! It is the last scene of the film, where Mitsuha and Taki met on this staircase and asked each other, “I think we have met before. What’s your name?”

Suga Shrine (須賀神社) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Yotsuya-sanchōme Station (Exit 3) or 12-minute walk from Yotsuya Station

Have fun in taking photos in the real anime places in Tokyo!

April 7, 2017 0 comment
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Hi! I’m Tracy, and I love anime and manga!

Do you know “Dragon Ball,” “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” and “Gundam”? I bet you have heard at least one of them before! Anime as an art form aesthetic that has reached out from Japan to influence animation and live-action films worldwide. That’s why you were attracted by the title and are reading this article right now!

When someone mentions “anime spots,” most people would think of Akihabara. But there are also some incredible anime spots near where I live in Ikebukuro, and I’m going to tell you all about them!

 

Tokyo Anime and Manga: ANi★CUTE

ANi CUTE3 Tokyo anime and manga spots

ANi★CUTE is an official shop of NIPPON ANIMATION. At ANi★CUTE, you can buy cute goods based on “Chibi Maruko-chan” and “Rascal the Raccoon.” Kids in Japan love these popular anime shows!

You can visit the ANi★CUTE’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to visit them in person, they are an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd floor of Sunshine City ALPA. Click on the map below for walking directions!

Sunshine City Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA

TORA NO ANA is one of the top 3 anime stores in Japan. They focus on selling dōjinshi, which are self-published works fan fiction.

There are actually two TORA NO ANA stores in Ikebukuro. Store A is male-oriented and and store B is female-oriented. Be careful! You may become embarrassed if you go into the wrong store.  TORA NO ANA sells adult dōjinshi, and there is no special section where they are by themselves.

TORA NO ANA A2 Tokyo anime and manga spots

Tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (male oriented)

tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (female oriented)

You can visit the TORA NO ANA’s website (via Google Translate) or follow the male oriented store on Twitter (via Google Translate). If you want to see the female side, you can visit their Twitter (via Google Translate), too! Both are close to Ikebukuro JR Station, and you can find them by clicking on the map above.

 

NAMJATOWN

namjatown Tokyo anime and manga spotsNAMJATOWN is Namco’s theme park for gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and ice cream. Don’t ask why, it’s Japanese! You can have a nice afternoon eating and enjoying the different cartoon attractions! Throughout the year there are special events held in collaboration with popular anime like “Yuri on Ice” or “Osomatsu-kun.” It’s fun!

You can visit the NAMJATOWN’s Website for more information. A little tip to save your money is that buying “Namja After3 Passport”(Unlimited Attractions Pass after 3:00pm) for ¥2,300 helps you save ¥300!  The NAMJATOWN is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, click on the map below for walking directions!

LASHINBANG (らしんばん)

Locating on the Otome Road – a street in Ikebukuro where shops are female oriented(Otome-Kei 乙女系), LASHINBANG is the largest store that specializes in second-hand anime goods. From tiny goods like badges to figures and cushions, you can find anime goods which are not popular anymore. Or sometimes you can find rare goods selling at a lower price here! They have 5 branches  in Ikebukuro, and the following are three stores on the Otome Road.

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe 2-floor LASHINBANG Main Store sells both male and female oriented goods – that means all kinds of anime! You can visit the Main Store Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate).

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spots

The LASHINBANG 2nd Store focuses on female oriented goods and anime CDs. You can visit the their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotslashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe LASHINBANG Cosplay Store is on 4F of Animate Sunshine and is full of cosplay costumes and accessories. You can visit their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

All of these 3 stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map above for walking directions!

 

ACOS

You can buy everything you need for cosplay in one shop – costumes, wigs, color contact lenses, and even cosmetics are all here! No matter if you are a beginner or are experienced in cosplaying, just come here and you’ll truly enjoy the cosplayers paradise! You can visit the ACOS Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to come and buy cosplay stuff, the store is a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd ~ 3rd floor of animate Sunshine. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

P’PARCO

Not just for stores of famous teenager Japanese fashion brands, P’PARCO is also a shopping mall. Inside is the headquarters of the big video sharing website “NicoNico” and anime goods stores.

EVANGELION STORE

evangelion store Tokyo anime and manga spots

The official store for Evangelion and fans will be crazy for the limited items here!
Rejet shoprejet shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Rejet shop is the filled with goods of Otome-Kei anime produced by the Rejet.co, which mainly focusing on games and drama CDs.

THE CHARA SHOP (THEキャラSHOP)the chara shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Chara is an online shop for wide variety anime goods. Events collaborating with different anime are held in this physical store and you can buy limited goods here!

Dash Store (ダッシュストア)dash store Tokyo anime and manga spots

Anime collaborated events are held in a short period (that’s why it’s called “Dash Store”), have a grasp of time to get the limited items of your favorite anime here!
Limited Baselimited base Tokyo anime and manga spots
A store that full of “limited” collaborated items which you can only find here!

p'parco Tokyo anime and manga spots

You can visit the P’PARCO’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. The shopping mall is right next to Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), click on the map below for walking directions!

 

K-BOOKS

K-BOOKS is a store chain selling anime goods from old things to newest popular things. There are 13 stores in Ikebukuro, and all of them have different in themes, such as games, otome-kei, idols, etc! Here are two of them located on the Otome Road. Believe me, you won’t want to leave the store once you entered it (like me)!

k-books anime & live Tokyo anime and manga spots
The K-BOOKS Anime & Live Store are in the same building where you can find goods of all types of anime on 1F and idol anime on 2F. You can visit the Anime Store Website (via Google translate) or the Live Store Website(via Google translate) to have more information.

k-books otome Tokyo anime and manga spots

The Otome Store is only a few steps away from the Anime & Live Store that hundreds of otome-kei games and anime can be found here. You can visit the Otome Store Website (via Google translate) to have more information. Both of the stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit) and opposite to the Sunshine City, that means you can go there for shopping after buying anime goods!

 

POKEMON CENTER MEGA TOKYO

pokemon center Tokyo anime and manga spotsIt’s the largest Pokémon Center in Japan! A huge range of goods can be found here. Are you dreaming of becoming a Pokémon master?

Besides Pikachu, you can meet other Pokémon here and “catch” them all to take home! Check the Pokémon Center’s Website and take a 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City Alpa to see how amazing here is! Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

J-WORLD TOKYOj-world Tokyo anime and manga spots

J-WORLD is a theme park for Shonen Jump, which is the most popular manga magazine in the world. At J-WORLD, you can take photos with the famous manga characters in Shonen Jump such as Son Goku from “Dragon Ball,” Luffy from “One Piece,” Naruto from“Naruto,” and much more!

A warning for you: make sure to come with your stomach empty, because you are going to try the original menu with designs from your favorite manga here!

Another tip to help you travel cheaper is that you can buy tickets online in advance with a ¥100 discount or buy a Night Passport (Unlimited Attractions Pass after 5:00pm) for¥1,800 (you save ¥800)!

Check J-WORLD’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) or Facebook (via Google translate) for more information! The characters are waiting you at the 3F of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, which is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map below for walking directions!

ANIMATE IKEBUKURO

animate ikebukuro Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe animate Ikebukuro is a 9-floor store with anime goods and an anime-collaborated cafe. It is the largest anime goods store in the world. It is famous not only because of the large stock of anime-related items, but also for the events held here such as anime exhibitions, autograph sessions of illustrators, and talk shows with voice actors.

When you step into animate, it’s just like you have entered into an  anime world where anime-related things are everywhere! You can definitely spend half a day exploring it! Visit animate Ikebukuro’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) to find out what’s new! It is a 5-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), and you can easily find it by its recognizable logo on a tall building. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

So you can see that there are many must-go places for anime fans in Ikebukuro. All of them are full of “treasures”! Make sure to visit!

February 17, 2017 0 comment
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Gundam Cafe, Odaiba, Tokyo

Listen man, I know your secret.

How? Because it’s not really a secret. I have a kid too. And I love the little guy, just like you love your little guy or girl. But we all know that some kid activities are excruciating. Yes, it’s for their development, bless their dear little hearts. So we go to dance recitals and school plays and soccer games that look like a greased pig chase.

Which is ok, when you’re home. You can sit on the sidelines and wave in between emails, or chitchat with the other parents. And when someone finally catches that greased pig, you can escape back to the homestead and relax in familiar surroundings.

Well, that’s not what’s going to happen here. Maybe the Big Meeting is over early; maybe you’re on vacation or an extended layover. Whatever the reason, you are in one of the most exciting cities in the world with your spouse and your 2.3 children. You’re in Tokyo, darn it, and you’re going to do something fun. Together, as a family! And you are going to do something that you cannot readily do back home. No, Mom and Dad (or however you organize yourselves), there’s not going to be any waving from the sidelines on this trip. Put on your walking shoes, we’re gonna do Tokyo!

 

WHO WANTS BREAKFAST?

Who wants breakfast? You want what? A Japanese breakfast?

No. No you don’t. Trust me on this one. Your kids are thinking “Anime-Os” with a Giant Robot Prize inside the box, but that’s not what they are going to get. A Japanese-style breakfast comes with things like baked fish, rice, pickles, soup, and other assorted unidentifiables. I’m pretty open-minded about what I eat, but fish and pickles is too much culture for that early in the morning.

For a Western-style breakfast, your hotel will be the most convenient spot. But if you must go somewhere, you can try Anna Miller’s in Shinagawa (visible across the street from the Takanawa exit; open daily 0730-0300) or the Terrace at the Westin Hotel in Mita (closest train station is Ebisu on the Yamanote line, and you’ll have to take a taxi from there; breakfast 0630-1030 daily).

But we’re traveling with kids here, and we all know how this goes. You pay a wad of cash for the buffet, and all the kid will eat is a single forkful of eggs and a half-bowl of cereal. Past experience tells you that he or she will be hungry in half an hour, but the little ankle biter adamantly refuses to eat anything else. Until, of course, you encounter the first McDonald’s after you leave the restaurant, at which point they begin howling about how hungry they are. Thus, the big fight begins.

If you suspect this is about to happen to you, avoid the stress and go to a bakery. They are everywhere in Japan—in department stores, in front of train stations, and in their own little shops on the street. Japanese bakeries have breads, donuts, croissants, pastries, and all kinds of other baked breakfast goods. Some of them even have coffee, mom and dad! And even if the kids don’t want all of whatever they get, you can put it in the bag and save it for later. Or eat it yourself, which is my recommended solution.

 

AKIHABARA

Akihabara Stores, Akihabara, Tokyo

This is where your nerd children want to go. If they’re older, coming here is probably the only reason they will risk being seen together with their parents in the first place. Akihabara is on the Yamanote line, is very easy to get to, and is foreigner-friendly.

If you are into anime and video games, you will be in heaven. Akihabara is the place where good nerds go when they die. Shops selling toys, figurines, video game paraphenalia, t-shirts, and related items are located here. There is no one best place to shop, so browse everywhere! Half the fun is souvenir-hunting through the bins and the little shops. The back streets are also a treasure trove of oddities, full of ¥100 bottle holders for your backpack, keychain bubble-wrap popping simulators, and possibly your very own camera drone. It’s worth a look.

Akihabara duty free shopping, Akihabara, Tokyo

Thanks to the huge duty-free shops, souvenirs of other kinds are also available. Everything from ninja t-shirts to fridge magnets all the way up to cameras and household appliances, the duty-free shops have them here. English-speaking staff are available at all locations to answer your questions. If you must have an appliance, buy it here. Items from the duty-free stores are adapted to work in your country of origin, which likely has different voltage/amperage requirements than Japan. This may not be the case if you make a last-minute stop at a department store before getting on the plane to go home. And many of the duty-free shops deliver to hotels!

Then there’s Don Quioxte. I have no idea what this store’s connection is to the literary figure, but it is a must-see. The best way to describe this place is as a cross between Wal-Mart and Spencer’s Gifts. It has the mundane (snacks, drinks), the strange (poo-shaped hats, Engrish-printed clothing), to the outright bizarre (boob pillows, maid outfits). The top floor is the AKB48 theater, where you can watch members of the famous all-girl pop band perform (for tickets, go to http://www.akb48.co.jp/english/overseas/index.html).

Don Quijote, Akihabara, Tokyo

Arcades are also a big part of Akihabara. They may be as common as dinosaur stampedes where you’re from, but Japan’s arcades know what they are up against–few games here are something you could get on a console at home. UFO Crane games, a taiko drumming game, Puzzles and Dragons Battle Tactics (which is apparently a thing), multitudes of fighting games, and head-to-head Gundam battle arenas were the highlights of my visit. Go inside and check out the card game/video game hybrids so you can see what your grandkids will be wanting for Christmas in 2040. Drop a few coins in the newest gee-whiz game or play a few of the classics. What kid doesn’t want to tell his friends at school that he played video games in an actual Japanese arcade?

Here’s another fun thing to do at the Sega arcades. The bathrooms have “peeing games” at the urinals (sorry ladies, I have no idea what’s in your powder room–couches and “Gone With the Wind” on continuous loop?). The screen is over the urinal, and to play you just step right up, no coins needed. Walk around, load up on liquids, then go into the arcade and do your business. I played one with a full bladder and ended up filling four and a half cans of pee. I don’t even know what that means or why you should be impressed, but there it is.

There are places to eat once you get hungry, but Akihabara is a grab-and-go kind of place. For fine dining, look elsewhere. If you are not planning to go to Odaiba (see below), there is a Gundam Cafe here (outside the Akihabara JR Station Atre1 Gate), where you can get lunch and some souvenirs. The Gundam Cafe is right next to the AKB48 Cafe, if you are more into the girl band than you are into giant robots. There are several coffee cafes in the area that offer sandwiches, and of course, two area McDonald’s for your picky eaters.

CAUTION NOTE #1: If you want to purchase anime, video games, or other electronic material, make sure that they will be compatible with the media systems you have back home. The small store owners will tell you, but it might be safer to buy that sort of material at one of the many duty-free shops in the area.

CAUTION NOTE #2: Ok, I know you’ve heard of it, so here it is: anime porn. Keep the kids away from anyplace that is bright pink, has the “No Under 18” sign, or has artwork of improbably-proportioned anime models over or around the door. The shops that sell these kinds of items aren’t ubiquitous and are usually subtle in their sidewalk advertising, but you could encounter them. Forewarned is forearmed.

CAUTION NOTE #3: “Not smoking indoors” is not a thing that has caught on in Japan yet, and arcades are particularly heinous. Check the floor signs to see if smoking is allowed on that floor. If your kids are particularly sensitive to smoke, going into an arcade that allows smoking may not be a good idea. If they can take it, have fun, but it’s always a good idea to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.

 

ODAIBA

I am a married man. Women want to shop. Therefore, it is inevitable that I (or maybe you) will get dragged on a shopping trip. It’s a cliche for a reason. Are you done not laughing? Good. Let’s continue.

It will do no good to explain to your significant other that (beyond the obvious regional variations) they have the same stuff at Japanese malls that they do in the malls where you come from. The same stores, even. That just makes her mad and even more determined to get her retail therapy on. But I am here to help! With a little mental judo, convince your one-and-only that Odaiba is the place to go for all of her shopping needs. That way, you and the kids can do something besides drag yourselves through the same jeans store you have back at your local mall.

GETTING THERE

At Osaki station (on the Yamanote line), change to the Rinkai line (dark blue; get on the train going towards Shin-kiba). Eleven minutes and ¥330 later, you will be at the Tokyo Teleport Station, in the middle of the Odaiba shopping area (what, you don’t have teleport stations in whatever backwater you’re squatting in? You poor dears). From here, you can walk or taxi to any number of malls. Here are the highlights–

AQUA CITY

Ramen restaurants, Odaiba, Tokyo

What? You’re going to Japan, and you are going to eat at McDonald’s?!?!? I think not. The Me-Matsuri Food Court on the fifth floor of the Aqua City Mall specializes in ramen and is easily accessible to English speakers. There are actually several different styles of ramen, all reasonably priced (¥600-¥1100, depending on what you get). All menus are in English–just choose, point, and pay. If the weather is nice, you can even sit outside and get a view of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower. I remarked that I saw a blue shell fly across the bridge to knock out the leader; my son rolled his eyes. No one likes the blue shell. (open 1100-2300).

For the picky eaters, there are a couple of American fast-food places in the food court on the first floor. But maybe you can convince them to try Kua’aina Hawaiian Burger place (same food court) or the Longboard Cafe on the third floor. It’s worth a shot.

Sony Explora, Odaia Tokyo

After lunch, you can occupy the time of younger children at the Sony ExploraScience Museum. Obviously, the “science” focuses on Sony products, but the interactive exhibits are a lot of fun and it’s a neat thing to do for an hour or two. My son and I enjoyed the voice pitch-switcher and the motion-capture puppet screen (I got a robot to dance the Robot!). Be sure to compete in the electronic Smile rankings and try to get the best smile of the day! (5th floor, open 1100-1900; Adults ¥500, Children ages 3-15 ¥300, under 3 years old free).

Sony Explora, Odaiba, Tokyo

DECKS TOKYO BEACH SHOPPING MALL

Alright, Lego fans, here’s your spot. Decks Tokyo Beach Shopping Mall is right next to Aqua City. And inside on the third floor is Tokyo’s Legoland Discovery Center! Even if you’ve been to one of the other Legoland theme parks, you can come here to see Japan-specific brick sculptures, like a Lego sumo match, or a room-sized model of Tokyo. Stop in the shop; even though the Lego is waaaay more expensive where you are from, you can snag a ¥350 minifigure from the current collector’s edition set, or a ¥700 keychain of your favorite Lego character. Singing an awesome song is optional, but if you forgot the words, don’t worry–it’s playing constantly while you’re in the store. I’m sure the clerks love that. (open 1000-2000 on weekdays , 1000-2100 on weekends; admission for all ages is ¥2200 walk-up)

Legoland, Odaiba, Tokyo

Decks also has a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, so older children who may not Lego-inclined can go inside and have their picture taken with their favorite celebrity. (Open daily 1000-1900; Adults ¥2000, Children ages 3-15 ¥1500, discounts available online.

If you want to see both a Lego Tokyo Tower and a wax Angelina Jolie, you can get a discount on a combo ticket pack.

DIVER CITY TOKYO

This mall is a little farther away than the other two, but don’t worry; you can see it from Aqua City or Decks. It also gives you time to spin a tale. This one requires a little bit of prep.

Seed this dad joke with a few episodes of the Gundam anime series in the months before you come to Japan. You can find it on your Netflix. Before you get to Diver City, make sure the kids know that you flew a Gundam and had all sorts of interstellar adventures before settling down and becoming their dad. “Yep, all that’s over now,” you might say. “I parked the old girl around here somewhere before I walked away. I wonder if it’s still here…”

Gundam Statue, Odaiba, Tokyo

Then you take them behind Diver’s City, and look! Dad’s old Gundam is still here! The 18-meter tall attraction is constantly surrounded by people taking pictures, and surely no one would mind helping out the former pilot by taking a picture of him with his kids in front of his old rig. Afterwards you can stop by the nearby Gundam Cafe and pick up a souvenir or two (I recommend a coffee cup). There is a Gundam Front trailer outside near the Gundam, where you can pick up a model if you feel inclined.

Gundam Cafe, Odaiba, Tokyo

On the seventh floor is the gold mine–there is a Round1 Stadium and the Gundam Front Tokyo, right next to each other!

The Gundam Front Tokyo contains a museum of Gundam figures (free to enter), a shop, and a clothing store. You can also visit the inner areas and see the art museum and some awesome dioramas (open daily 1000-2000, Adults ¥1200, Children ages 3-15 ¥1000, you can buy in advance for ¥200 off)

Round1 Stadium is an indoor amusement park/recreational facility. You and your kids can play some indoor basketball, try a batting cage, go roller skating, and even ride a mechanical bull. There are video games all over the place, including a four-player Pac-Man machine and a strange game in which the objective is to do as much damage as possible by rage-flipping a table. There is a rest area with massage chairs (great for worn-out adults) and a classic video game arcade with hits from the 80s and 90s. The pricing scheme for all of this entertainment is rather bizarre (if you can make heads or tails of it, you are a better man than I), but the mall has an interpreter phone service you can use to figure it all out. As you can see from the price list, it can get expensive, but I never had a bad time there. Also, the odd hours mean that if you are suffering from jet lag at a nearby hotel, you can sneak out and get in a few rounds on the mechanical bull. (Open 7 days a week. Monday – Thursday 1000-0600 the next day; Fridays and public holidays 1000-all day; Saturday 24 hours; Sundays and holidays open until 0600 the next morning. The facility will not allow children aged 15 and under in after 1800 or 16-18 year olds after 2200).

Have a little extra time to spend in Odaiba? Check out our photo tour of Odaiba for some more ideas on things to do. 

For  more tips on traveling in Tokyo with kids, visit our article Getting Around Tokyo with the Family.

36 Hours in Tokyo: Touristy/Off the Beaten Path Mix has even more ideas for you!

June 13, 2016 0 comment
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Akihabara, or Akiba for short, is arguably one of the hottest places to visit during your stay in Tokyo.  Known for its appeal to the otaku of Japan, Akiba is lined with shops filled to the brim with electronics, PC parts, video games, manga, and let us not forget, anime, and the sound of good old-fashioned fun floods the entrances of the many arcades scattered throughout the district.

However, as exciting as the area can be, it can also be just as overwhelming. For the first time visitor, this means that many of Akiba’s greatest gems may be overlooked.  That’s why we’ve compiled a rough list of shops to help you make the most out of your first trip to Akiba.  Though not large, you will want to free up at least an entire day to explore the area.

Maid Cafes

Photo credit: Maid @ Akiba by Miki Yoshihito

First thing is first, one of the essential must-have experiences while in Japan is the infamous maid cafe.  Generally speaking, most maid cafes offer pretty much the same services. Waitresses dress up in frilly maid costumes and serve tea to customers while speaking in their cutesy maid cafe lingo.  Customers can also pay to play games or have more personal conversation with the maids. Traditional maid cafe foods such as the ever popular omelette rice are available to snack on.  Here are a few which are sure to satisfy the moe in all of you.

Cure Maid Cafe – While certainly not as niche as many of the maid cafes lining the streets of Akihabara, Cure definitely sticks to tradition.  One of the first maid cafes in Akiba, Cure is definitely worth checking out, if only to say you’ve been.

Maidreamin Cafe Franchise – In contrast to Cure’s hidden presence, Maidreamin does everything in its power to make customers browsing the streets of Akiba aware of its many locations scattered throughout the electronic district.  When you imagine “maid cafe”, you are probably picturing a place exactly like Maidreamin.  Definitely a must-have experience while in the wonderful city of Tokyo.

 Electronics Stores/All purpose

Photo credit: Akihabara by Danny Choo

Part of the allure of Akihabara is the incredible selection of electronics.  In fact, the district is commonly referred to as Electric Town.  Shoppers from all over the world come here to find unique computer parts, household appliances, as well as specialty parts.  While there are seemingly infinite small shops scattered throughout Akiba, here are some of the most noteworthy (which all happen to be duty free).

Sofmap – Offering over 6 floors worth of all things electronic/otaku, Sofmap is very hard to miss.  Everything from computer parts, to cell phone cases, to secondhand games/figurines, and to an entire floor dedicated almost entirely to headphones/earbuds can be found in this retail giant.  Definitely worth checking out for anyone wanting to see all of the new nifty electronics coming out of Tokyo.

Laox – While Laox has an excellent selection of electronic goods, it also sells a wide variety of other merchandise.  Housewares, hobby goods, and clothing to name a few.  Laox separates itself from the rest of the competition with its incredible prices and wide selection of goods.

Akky 1/2/International – Very much like Laox in regards to merchandise, although this retail chain is a bit more foreigner friendly.  It also boasts a fairly respectable souvenir section.  There are a total of three Akky’s in Akihabara.  Akky 1, Akky 2 and Akky International.

Robot Shops (VStone/Kondo/Tsukumo Robot Kingdom) – That’s right, shops dedicated entirely to robots.  Robot parts, robot casings, robot paint, etc.  You may not be an expert in robotics, but this is definitely a very essential experience during your stay in Japan.  Some even host robot competitions.  There are several robot shops throughout Akiba, and quite honestly they are pretty well hidden.  However, it is definitely worth the search.

Anime & Manga

Photo credit: Mandarake Complex by Street Viewer

It’s virtually impossible to make your way through Akihabara without running into at least one anime shop.  While they all are fairly interesting in their own ways, there are a few gems which bring the best of all anime shops under one roof.

Mandarake – Perhaps one of the more popular anime shops in Akiba, Mandarake is 8 floors of Otaku heaven.  With each floor focusing on a different aspect of the anime genre, it is almost impossible not to find something interesting.  They even have two floors dedicated entirely to hentai/yaoi.

Animate – Animate is a well known company specializing in selling all things anime. Very similar to it’s flagship Ikebukuro store, the Akihabara store is no less impressive.  Plan to spend a few hours sorting through the impressive collection of anime goods.

K-Books – One of the largest collections of Manga under one roof, K-Books offers an incredible selection at very hard to argue with prices.  Be warned, however, that a majority of the manga here is in Japanese.

Arcades

Photo credit: Taito Station Akiba by Jaakko Hakulinen

Shopping and eating seem to be reoccurring themes in Tokyo.  That’s why the handful of arcades in each part of the city can be an incredibly refreshing break from Tokyo’s intense shopping culture.  Akihabara is no exception, and with tons of arcades lining its sidewalks one can spend hours playing all of the latest and best arcade games in Japan.

Taito Hey! – Taito is the largest chain of arcades in Japan.  It’s almost impossible not to find one in every busy prefecture.  Akihabara hosts the largest of these incredibly fun-filled gaming factories.  All of the most obscure games one can imagine, along with the most popular ones, can be found in this multi-floor arcade.

Sega – Club Sega is very much like Taito.  The main difference is Club Sega’s focus on claw games.  Many Akiba-ites can be found here trying their hand at winning rare prizes.  Tired of gaming?  Take a step up to one of the upper floors for some super fun Purikura.

Super Potato – One of the longest standing game stores in Akihabara, Super Potato hosts perhaps the most impressive collection of retro games.  Hidden on the top floor is a retro arcade which many Akiba-ites come to in order to relieve some stress and to have a good time.

While each of these shops are fun and unique in their own way, they are certainly not all that Akihabara has to offer.  We definitely recommend taking the time to thoroughly walk the streets to find some of the countless gems hidden away within this electric paradise.  Akiba is and will continue to be intimidating to newcomers.  However once you’re able to sort through the madness, it quickly becomes one of the most pleasant places in Tokyo.

 

June 8, 2016 0 comment
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Entrance to Taco Ché

The first thing I saw was a pygmy about to cut the nipple off of a captured Japanese girl’s left tit. And that’s just the door sign. If this doesn’t clue you in as to what you are about to get yourself into, nothing will.

Entrance to Taco Ché, Nakano Broadway Mall, Tokyo, Japan

TACO ché has a certain reputation amongst manga fans in Japan and beyond. Standing inside the small shop located on the third floor of the Nakano Broadway Mall’s escheresque building, I couldn’t really understand it. Is it the “rummage sale” indy feel? The artistic rebellion against established market themes? The “I’ve-been-there-and-you-haven’t” hipster cachet? I’m not into manga, so I tend to treat it the same way I treat all art–I may not know technical terms or styles or what’s in or out of fashion, but I know what I like when I see it. So let’s have a look.

As one would expect, the shelves are stuffed full of manga books. Some separated by topic, or artist, or other themes. The books themselves ranged in quality from professional publications to self-published pamphlets. It’s all in Japanese, so unless you have a good grasp on the written form of the language, you’re not going to find any reading material here. Illustrations range from simple line art and text to complex ink spills detailing someone’s mental illness and/or sexual hangups. Dragonball Z this ain’t.

I chose a book at random and discovered the incomprehensible adventures of Chinko-man, an apparently ordinary man with a head shaped like a penis. On the page I turned to, he was answering a phone. Exactly how talking on a phone works when your face is a foreskin is a question that I found impossible to avoid. Dude has no ears. So what, vibration? How does that not end, you know, happily? And what about the rest of his life? Blind dates have to be awkward, at least.

I turned my attention to the paintings over the shelves. The most prominent artist on display was partial to creepy nautical themes. Fish and various marine-styled monsters riding bicycles, or going to an aquarium, or enjoying a street festival. I liked the one that had a person in a dive suit driving a water-filled aquarium bus. If you like somewhat creepy art, this could be just the thing for your wall.

TACO ché doesn’t limit their artistic offerings to manga and canvas. There is a small but significant selection of grindcore and underground music labels on the shelves in front of the clerk’s desk. Across the shop are a handful of shelves devoted to DVD and VHS films–some I recognized, most I didn’t. I also found a zip-up bag shaped like a brain, a selection of buttons whose mottos seemed to be inside jokes of some sort, and a selection of T-shirts and leggings featuring characters from the books in the shop.

TACO ché is for varsity-level manga collectors who follow that scene, but it is not without its charms to people on the lookout for the strange and different. I, for one, could go for that painting of the aquarium bus.

TACO che Location Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook | Twitter (Japanese) | Online Store (Google-translated)

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Nakano station. On the 3rd floor of Nakano Broadway Shopping Center, access through the Sunmall. (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open every day 12:00 am – 8:00 pm

“Why Go?”: For indie manga with that anti-establishment feel

Click on one of the links below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

February 16, 2015 0 comment
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Akihabara is the global cultural hub for all things related to anime and manga. With such a vast treasure trove of varied literature found within the bustling district, K-Books is the place to go for an organised and centralised shopping experience. K-Books is by far the best location for discovering everything that has to do with anime, manga, otaku, and Japan’s underground culture. Just off of Chou-dori, K-Books is a monolithic multi-story building that is jam-packed with all things Akihabara inspired and desired.

The first floor of this sprawling store is mostly dedicated to manga and anime magazines. The sheer variety of manga on this floor is astounding, but everything is neatly organised into subsections, allowing for a streamlined shopping experience. You will be able to find those old classics from your childhood (Hello Inu Yasha and Sailor Moon!) in their original bound volumes as well as stumbling upon brand new series that you never knew existed. Although there is a dearth of mangas with English language serialisations at the store, those who have yet to master the Japanese language will be happy to find art books of some of their favorite series that can only be found in Japan. No matter what your language level is, manga fans of all backgrounds will be able to find something to sink their teeth into.

Reaching the upper levels of K-Books is when things get interesting, intriguing, and downright weird. Some of these floors are mostly 18+ because of the nature of the photo-books and the body-pillows, but the other levels of this store are open to fans of all ages. A combination of both vintage and fresh new toys of a plethora of series are found throughout the various floors. Especially check out the third floor where you will find a maze of keychains and miniature action figures. K-Books also caters to those who are fans of the girl group AKB48 as they sell an impressive collection of idol goods as well as the light-up wands that you see fans waving at AKB48 concerts.

If you are already a fan of Akihabara or intrigued by the culture that fuels this electric town then K-Books will be the perfect place to dedicate a few hours of your day.

K-Books Akihabara Store Information

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: Two-minute walk from Akihabara Station (Keihin-Tohoku, Hibiya, Yamanote and Chuo-Sobu lines)

Hours of Operation: Open weekdays 11:30 am – 8pm, Saturdays and Holidays 11am – 8pm

“Why Go?”: A taste of Japan’s diverse literary culture in a world-famous electric district

Click on one of the tags below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

October 22, 2014 0 comment
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TOKYO CHARACTER STREET

Looking for a unique Japanese shopping experience? Located within the Tokyo Station First Avenue mall, Tokyo Character Street (TCS) offers just that. Opening in 2008, TCS began as a relocation of the various character shops scattered throughout the mall. Now this Kawaii (Cute) section of the mall features 15+ character stores where customers can find anything from character based pastries, to small figurines, to collectible plush toys.

TCS’s Hello Kitty shop houses a plethora of stuffed toys and collectibles which are normally only obtainable by scouring the streets of Tokyo. The Ultraman World M78 store features all things Ultraman for fans of the series, young and old. And for Studio Ghibli fans, TCS even has a store dedicated to characters coming from the studio’s animated gems such as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, or Spirited Away to name a few. Characters ranging from the likes of Doraemon to Snoopy can be found within the shops comprising TCS making it a must see destination for any fans of Japanese pop culture.

Whether you are in the area waiting for a shinkansen(bullet train), are an avid collector, or just want to catch a glimpse of just one of the many facets of Japanese culture, TCS offers something for the inner child in all of us.

Photo credit: Tokyo Character Street by DozoDomo

Address:Tokyo Station, Chiyoda, Tokyo
GPS:35.681382, 139.76608399999998
Telephone:03-3210-0077

Opening Hours

Monday:10:00 – 20:30
Tuesday:10:00 – 20:30
Wednesday:10:00 – 20:30
Thursday:10:00 – 20:30
Friday:10:00 – 20:30
Saturday:10:00 – 20:30
Sunday:10:00 – 20:30
October 21, 2014 0 comment
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There’s a lot of weird and wonderful gifts to buy in Tokyo. Here is a list of the top 10 souvenirs you should get for someone (or yourself!) when you are traveling in Japan. 

1. Plastic food replicas are used all over the world to show incoming customers what a restaurant’s food will look like when served. Though found in restaurants across the world,  these food replicas are so popular in Japan that there are stores dedicated to selling them to anyone and everyone. You might be thinking, “Why would I buy this?” Well, why not! For any food you can think of, there is sure to be a plastic food replica of it. No trip to Japan is complete without buying at least one of these. They’re a great (and weird) addition to someone’s house!

2.If there was a list of the three things that Japan was most famous for, the list would be: samurai, sushi, and KitKats. In the West, there is really only one flavor commonly sold – chocolate. Japan, however, sells a wide variety of innovative flavors such as jasmine, matcha, and wasabi, to name just a few. There is now even a KitKat boutique in Seibu department store in Ikebukuro and at the Daimaru by Tokyo Station, so head there to stock up on limited edition flavors.

 

Japanese Kit Kats

 

 

 

3. Japanese knives are different from Western knives in the way they are forged, tempered, and shaped. While Western knives generally have double-sided edges, Japanese knives have single-sided edges. The Japanese believe that a single-edged blade is not only sharper, but can add more power to cuts and slices. 

kitchen knives

Photo source: japan-knives by sahua d

4. Japanese nail clippers are a much different item than their Western counterparts. What remains the same is the tool’s function. Japanese or Western, both cut toe/finger nails. What makes Japanese clippers different (and arguably more superior) is their quality, and cutting precision. For a higher price, you get a long-lasting clipper that will cleanly cut your nails. Great quality nail clippers are available at stores such as Loft and Tokyu Hands. 

5. Many people who are interested in Japan have at least a passing level of interest in Japanese anime or manga. Gifts for your otaku friends can include products such as posters, CDs, DVDs, and figurines from their favorite shows. Anime lover or not, it is highly recommended you check these out – they’re quite intricate! The perfect place to shop for these is Akihabara, where you will find dozens of stores that sell anime and gaming goods. 

anime figures

Photo source: Akira by Peter Baker

Note: If you’d like some help on knowing where to start in Akihabara, visit our article Akihabara 101: Sorting Through the Madness.

6. “Sa-shi-su-se-so” is the phrase the Japanese use when describing the basis of their cooking. Translating into English, it is “sugar-salt-soy vinegar-soy sauce-miso paste.” Japanese cuisine is intricate, delicious, and comes in many forms. However, what forever seems to stand is the importance of these five condiments.

Acquiring these materials outside of Japan is not difficult, but what you purchase outside of Japan and what you purchase in Japan can be easily differentiated by the quality and taste. Cheap knock-offs are everywhere, but only in Japan can you obtain this harmonious group of condiments at the best quality, for a reasonable price. If you or your loved ones enjoy cooking Japanese food, then “sa-shi-su-se-so” is a must.

condiments

Photo source: Japanese condiments by David Woo

7. The popular maneki neko is heavily integrated in Chinese and Japanese cultures, and has found his way into many other countries around the world. He is actually a talisman that is said to bring good fortune, prosperity, and customers (if placed in a restaurant). Outside of Japan and China, it is difficult to purchase these cats for yourself unless live near a Chinatown. In Japan, however, there are stores everywhere that carry them. When you visit, pick up a few of these and share the prosperity they bring!

Maneki Neko

Photo source: Maneki neko shop by Luis villa del Campo 

8. In Japanese culture, it’s the norm to have little, dangly charms on one’s phone. Whether it’s attached for personal expression, sentimental reasons, or just for fun, you’ll see many people in Japan (kids and adults alike) with charms attached to their phones. Phone charms come in millions (not an exaggeration) of shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even plush toys attached to some charms! When visiting Japan, it is imperative that you pick some of these lightweight souvenirs up. With them, you’ll not only fit in, but you’ll find yourself wanting more and more – they’re inherently addicting to buy!

phone charms

Photo source: charm yourself by chelsea marie hicks

9.In the West, painting one’s nails entails a simple change in color, and possibly some glittery-substance to add a little flair. When buying nail polish in Japan, you will find that it comes in sets, with multiple bottles of polish, glitter, and other items to help you create unique nails. Japanese nail art is quite simply a spectacle. You can join in on the self-expression, too!

Visit any store that has makeup and get your creativity on! Loft and Tokyo Hands both have a good selection of nail art that you can do yourself. If you’d like a professional to work their magic though, head to Nail Salon Pinky or Ken’s Nails.

nail art

Photo source: smiley infestation by antjeverena

10. Wind chimes (fuurin) are extremely popular in Japan and are said to have made their first appearance in the Edo period (17th century). Moreover, Japanese-style wind chimes are light, small, and  create beautiful sounds. There are two major types of wind chimes – “Edo fuurin” (glass), and “Nanbutetsu fuurin” (iron cast/bronze). These two have distinct sounds and it is highly recommended to pick up one of each to experience the refreshing sounds that both have to offer. In addition, Japanese wind chimes differ from their Western counterparts by virtue of the small pieces of paper attached to them. These pieces of paper generally have little images on them with Japanese sayings, but sometimes they are blank, giving you the opportunity to write something of your own on them!  You should be able to find Japanese wind chimes in Asakusa, which is full of many tourist and souvenir shops.

wind chimes

Photo source: Fuurin by Joi Ito

For more ideas on fun souvenirs to buy in Tokyo,  check out our article The Last-Minute Japanese Gift Giving Guide. If you love buying quirky gifts, we recommend visiting The World Connection in Harajuku, a fun little variety store on Takeshita-street. 

 

April 18, 2014 0 comment
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