Top 16 Things to Do in Akihabara
Akihabara, Tokyo's notorious den of otaku culture and all things tech, is awash with things to do. Discover the best of it with our list of the top 16 things to do in Akihabara.
Located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo, Akihabara is a district in which to fully embrace your otaku side. Bathed in neon light and rammed with people every hour of the day, the district is world-famous as the epicentre of all things manga, anime, cosplay and electronics.
Japanophiles, otakus or those with only a passing interest in contemporary Japanese culture won’t fail to fall in love with this pocket of the city, and, with our handy guide to the top 16 things to do in Akihabara, you won’t miss a bit of it.
16 Things To Do in Akihabara
With so much to do, you’ll have to spend some serious time in Akihabara to see everything. Hone your sightseeing with our list of the top 16 things to do in Akihabara.
1. Chuo Dori
Chuo Dori is Akihabara’s spine, its main street where a good deal of its most popular attractions can be found. From the station, pass by Akihabara Electric Town (by taking the Electric Town Exit) and you’ll find yourself on Chuo Dori, which also runs north to Ueno and south to Ginza. Chuo Dori is lined with gaming stores, electrical stores and those selling an assortment of weird and wonderful goods. A good way to introduce yourself to Akihabara is to wander the street, popping into any building that piques your interest, soaking up the distinctive vibes.
2. Don Quijote Akihabara
Don Quijote is a Japanese chain store which, plainly put, sells everything. Cosmetics, clothes, food, electronics, games, novelty items, luggage… the list goes on and on. Don Quijote Akihabara is huge, with eight floors crammed with goods and open all night long. The blaring music, crowds and surprising finds make shopping here an experience in itself, and one you can’t leave the country without experiencing.
10:00 to 05:00
3. Maid Cafe
The apex of Japan’s kawaii culture is the concept of the Maid Cafe. If you’re new to the idea, Maid Cafe’s feature female staff members dressed as maids, there to serve on and entertain the customer, or ‘master’. Weird but very popular, Akihabara is the home of the first Maid Cafe and remains their spiritual home.
For all the info on Maid Cafes in Japan and some top cafe recommendations, check out our ultimate Maid Cafe guide.
4. Yodobashi Camera Akihabara
Yodobashi Camera is one of Japan’s largest electronics retailers, and, unsurprisingly, the Akihabara branch is among the best. If you’re in the market for a gadget of any kind, Yodobashi Camera has you covered. Present a passport and all goods are tax-free, plus, compared to much of Europe and America, much of what’s on offer is pretty good value. Be careful, hours can fly by in here.
9:30 – 22:00
Boasting eight floors of all things manga and anime, Mandarake is the ultimate retailer in Akihabara otaku culture. It is the largest store of its kind in the district, but with helpful English-speaking staff on hand you should be able to navigate it.
On the first floor find the checkouts and some great displays, the second is dedicated to cosplay and dolls, the third manga, the fourth male orientated manga, the fifth female orientated manga, the sixth video games, the seventh retro toys and games and finally, on the top floor, there is an array of new toys. Phew.
12:00 to 20:00
6. AKB48 Cafe
AKB48 Café, right outside Akihabara Station’s Denkigai Exit, is the official cafe of J-Pop superstars AKB48, where fans flock to watch regularly held performances, listen to their music, eat and drink. Whilst the food and drink isn’t number one priority here, it’s nevertheless pretty good, featuring dishes such as Atsuko Maeda’s Thick and Fluffy Curry Rice Omelette and Yuki Kashiwagi’s Pasta of Black Pig’s Passion. There is also a shop on site selling AKB48 merch you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
11:00 – 23:00
7. Super Potato
If you’re looking for potatoes, try elsewhere, if you’re looking for video games on the other hand, you’ve come to the right place! Super Potato is a legendary Tokyo video game spot, selling a vast range of rare and retro games, new games, gaming merchandise and even housing its own old school arcade on the top floor. If you’re more about Mario and Zelda than Call of Duty, this a good place to head for.
11:00 to 20:00
8. Kanda Myojin Shrine
If the flashing lights and crowds get the better of you, take a break at Kanda Myojin Shrine. People head here to pray to the gods of business, health and happy marriages, plus its proximity to Akihabara means it has the reputation as Tokyo’s “geekiest” shrine, complete with computer chip-shaped omamori (good look charm).
Read all about the shrine in our full guide to Kanda Myojin Shrine.
9. Gundam Cafe
Do you love the Gundam anime series? If yes, a visit to Gundam Cafe is a must. With a futuristic interior and an inventive menu, it’s like stepping into another world. Staff dressed as characters from the show will serve you and its location, just a couple of minutes walk from Akihabara Station makes it super easy to find.
Mon–Fri 10:00 – 23:00, Sat 8:30 – 23:00, Sun 8:30 – 21:30
10. Tokyo Anime Center
Tokyo Anime Center is located on the fourth floor of the Akihabara UDX building, very close to Akihabara Station. This place is a festival of all things anime, making it a hive of like-minded anime nerds from all over the world. Another key Akihabara location.
11:00 to 19:00
¥ 150 – 10,000
11. Try Out UFO Catchers
Everyone knows UFO Catchers, but Japan takes UFO Catchers to the next level. Akihabara is riddled with these machines that offer everything from cheap novelty toys to video games and anime/manga merch as prizes. A good way to slim down your yen collection, UFO Catchers are a lot of fun and may even leave you with some great souvenirs to take home.
12. Shop For PC Parts
Want a new computer? Need some repair work? Like looking at assorted tech? Akihabara, once again, has your back. Family stores and global-megastores alike ply their trade here, making it the centre of Japan’s tech scene. Although many of the stores may be pretty limited when it comes to English language assistance, shop around and you’ll find what you’re looking for. We particularly recommend the bluntly named PC USEFUL.
Mon–Fri 10:30 – 20:00, Sat–Sun 10:00- 19:30
13. Arcade Centers
Arcades are another key component of Akihabara, one that draws in endless game hungry visitors. Arcades can be found throughout Tokyo, but Akihabara has some of the biggest, brightest and best. Try your hand at classics like Street Fighter and Mario Cart, have a go at some contemporary games or even kick back with some electronic darts, the choice is yours.
For a guide to the best Tokyo arcades, including a good few in Akihabara, check out our dedicated article, here.
14. Ramen Shops
Feeling hungry after your Akihabara adventures? Ramen is the answer. Popular chains and local restaurants litter the district and aren’t difficult to spot. Go forth and get slurping!
15. Itasha Cars at UDX
Cars adorned with anime characters and emblems are a common sight in Akihabara. If you want the full experience, however, every weekend the best examples of this trend head to the Akihabara UDX parking garage to show off. These vehicles are known as itasha cars and are a real spectacle. Most weekends the UDX garage becomes a showroom of upwards of 50 itasha cars. Feel free to pop by.
16. Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine is a shop specialising in board games, toys and card games. Fans of Yu-Gi-Oh will be particularly taken aback with this place, selling an impressive array of new, old and rare cards. Head here in the afternoon and link up with gaming enthusiasts to battle and swap cards.
10:00 – 20:00
Want more from Tokyo? What to see, what to do, what to eat and all the vital info? Compathy Magazine has everything you need and more: