Guide to Travelling to Japan part 2

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

Places to Go

In this section of the guide I’ll be talking about different places you may want to go to. I tried to be as concise and informative as possible.

Akihabara

Home to Anime, Manga, Eroge, Electronics, and more. Definitely a place I would recommend going to whether you’re not interested in those things, or an experienced Otaku (though you probably wouldn’t need me to tell you about it then ^__^;;). Maids and cosplayers are common sights in Akihabara, many whom work at Cafes and walk around trying to advertise. They’ll likely try to hand you a flier, which are really attractive by the way, but then they’ll try and point you in the direction of their cafe or even bring you there. Akihabara sees many foreigners, so if you would like to try a Maid Cafe, take your pick! I personally went to one (well, it wasn’t really a maid cafe, but similar) in Ikebukuro, not in Akiba.

Arcade fans rejoice,  Taito Station and Club Sega can be found in Akiba. Those interested in arcade gaming will definitely want to check these places out (the quality and selection is several notches above arcades in other countries). When finishing a game in the arcade, be sure to look around or maybe even leave the machine for a bit before playing again, someone else might be waiting to play! This is common courtesy that I noticed in Japanese arcades. Console gamers will find plenty of stores offering the latest titles, and even old-school fans will be satisfied by the many shops in Akiba.

Even if you’re not an active gamer I would recommend visiting the arcade, you’ll find that Japan has many casual players, from the teenager to the businessman. Vocaloid fans, be sure to head to Club Sega to try out Diva Project Arcade. See how the game is like below ;3

Gamers, Animate, K-Books, and Tora no Ana are some of the places you’ll go to get your fix of novels, manga, and magazines. They also carry other stuff, such as figures, and much much more. Since you’re in Akiba though, there are actually many more other stores carrying similar things. There is also Mandarake, but I wasn’t aware of the store when I was there, but it’s very likely a promising place to check out. Be sure to look around all over Akiba, there are many other interesting stores!

Those who are interested in general Anime and Manga related goods should for sure check out Radio Kaikan. Located just outside the exit of Akihabara Station, it’s got 7 floors filled with interesting things. Kotobukiya can be found on the ground floor here, and various other card shops throughout the entire building. There are also many figure and model shops in here. Dollfie fans should be sure to visit VOLKS in this building. They also carry other figures, garage kits, and other models. VOLKS also has a store where people rent out small cube spaces to sell things, you’ll be able to find just about anything (even dollfies). Azone is also in this building.

If you’re looking for Electronics, be sure to check out Softmap and Yodobashi Camera. They carry everything from TVs to Cameras to Computers and Cellphones. You’ll even find manga, figures, etc.

Quick summary of places mentioned:

  • Taito Station and Club Sega -> Arcades
  • Gamers, Animate, Tora no Ana -> Anime, Manga, Magazines, and more
  • Mandarake -> Should be able to find more than I can list ^__^. Check out Mandarake’s website here.
  • Radio Kaikan
    • Kotobukiya Store
    • K-Books -> Anime, Manga, Magazines, and more
    • VOLKS – Dollfie Dreams, Figures, many hobby related goods.
    • Several stores carry small cubes rented out by people who put up their things for sale
    • Azone
  • Softmap and Yodobashi Camera -> Like a Department Store. You can find many things from Electronics to other Anime related goods
Since this is all probably incredibly confusing, here’s a map. Adapted from Google Maps.
Click the map to enlarge~

If you’re still not satisfied? How about you hit the streets right now?

Click here to take a look from where Softmap is.

Shibuya and Harajuku

Although they’re two different places, I’ll just group them together since they’re both popular for fashion. Of course, girls are going to have a much more fun and wallet-emptying experience here as opposed to guys, but there is fashion for both genders.

Harajuku is a popular place for people to dress up and go to on Sundays. You’ll most likely see some Lolita fashion girls…and possibly Lolita grown men. Not joking by the way. Cosplayers are found too at times but personally I haven’t seen any on the Sundays I’ve been there (as opposed to all I’ve heard about Sundays). Dollfie fans should check out Tenshi-no-Sumika here. They have two stores, one mainly for Super Dollfies and another for Dollfie Dreams. Don’t forget to visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine, it’s just across the bridge outside the Harajuku Station exit.

Shibuya has much to offer. First, the station is one of the busiest stations in Tokyo. I’m sure you’ve also heard of the Scramble Crossing, the famous crosswalk where cars from all directions stop, and pedestrians swarm the crosswalk in all directions. Those after the fashion in Shibuya should visit the 109 and 109-2. Both are buildings filled with the latest fashion. Both these places are fairly pricey by the way, be warned. Take a spin at Tsutaya, and enjoy a cup of Starbucks at the same time all while overlooking the Crossing.

Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro has a bunch to see too, though not as much as the places above I think. You can find a branch of K-Books and Animate here, and there are various shops in and around Sunshine City which is just about 5 minutes away from the station. You’ll be able to find signs in the station pointing you in that direction.

Explore

Tokyo has a lot more to see, and I’ve only listed a few locations you might find interesting. Depending on the experience you’re looking for you should check out different things, from Hot Springs to tourist frequents such as Tsukiji Market.

Events

If you’ve decided to take the one month stay, it’s likely that you’ll get the opportunity to attend some event, such as WonFest, Comiket, or Dollpa. It sounds intimidating at first but I highly recommend attending; You’ll get to have a firsthand experience of what it’s like. Personally I was lucky enough to take a trip to WonFest. It was an incredibly tiring day but I would never forget the experience.

Here are my tips for WonFest:

    • Either be there early, or be there late. Why?
      • Go early to nab exclusives
      • Go late to avoid the line-up
    • The “ticket” for WonFest is actually the guidebook. You’ll be able to find it at many places, especially in Akihabara
    • Eat well before attending, or bring food with you. I spent 1.5 hours lining up for the “Black Rock Curry” featured at the time, only to have the last one sold to the person in front of me
    • Basic Japanese will go a long way here, being able to read simple text on signs and whatnot

Part 3 of the guide can be found here ;3

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