There are many reasons to visit Japan. Some people go to enjoy the seasonal weather and see nature while others go to learn about the country’s history and culture. There are those who visit the country because they love anime.
What is anime? It’s short for animation and one of Japan’s most popular forms of media. From kids to adults, many people enjoy all kinds of anime that tells various stories—from historical events and figures to futuristic sci-fi. And fortunately for anime fans, there are tons of places in Japan where they can indulge in their favorite anime series.
General Anime and Manga Stores
Foreigners usually enjoy their favorite anime by visiting sites like Crunchyroll to watch shows online. But in Japan, watching anime isn’t the only way people can enjoy it. Many stores offer all sorts of merchandise from not only top anime but also some lesser-known shows with dedicated fanbases. The most popular stores in Japan, Mandarake (まんだらけ) and Animate (アニメイト), can be found in many major cities around the country so anime fans can grab goods throughout their travels. And for those who want to brush up on their Japanese, pick up the latest issue of your favorite manga to read in the park.
Recommended location: Nakano Broadway branch – Take the Chuo Line or Tozai Line to Nakano Station and head to the Nakano Broadway shopping center.
Recommended location: Ikebukuro branch – Head to Ikebukuro Station accessible via multiple train lines and go towards Naka-Ikebukuro Park.
Mandarake is actually most well-known for being a secondhand shop. But there are a few other stores worth checking out for anime-lovers like the popular chain Book-Off and Akihabara specialty store Liberty.
Book-Off actually offers all kinds of secondhand items—from books and video games to home appliances. It’s a great place to score full manga collections at cheaper prices. Buyers can rest assured that they’re also in good condition as the staff inspects items before they accept them from previous owners.
For those who enjoy collecting anime and video game figures, Akihabara makes it easy to find all the figures you want because of the number of stores. But one store worth checking out is Liberty. There are actually a few of these scattered around Akihabara and each store sells specializes in different things. For a great deal on figures, it’s best to go to Liberty Akihabara #8 where tons of secondhand figures are available for the avid collectors.
Recommended location: Akihabara branch – Head to Akihabara Station and the store is just a minute or two away.
Recommended location: Liberty Akihabara #8 – Take the Ginza Line to Suehirocho Station and the shop is just a few steps away from Exit 1.
Perhaps the most popular anime film of the past few years, Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name features a number of locations around Tokyo. A lot of the film’s promotional materials featured an image of the two protagonists looking at each other by a staircase. This staircase is none other than the ones that lead to Suga Shrine in Shinjuku.
Sports anime lovers have probably heard of the show Free!, which focuses on a high school swimming club. The town in the anime, called Iwatobi, was actually modeled after Iwami in Tottori Prefecture; and many fans have taken a trip to this seaside town to take pictures that look like scenes from the series. The town also offers guides to visitors so they can visit all the places seen in the anime.
Suga Shrine Stairs
How to get there: Take the Marunouchi Line to Yotsuya-Sanchome Station and walk five minutes to Suga Shrine.
Iwami, Tottori Prefecture
How to get there: Take a shinkansen from cities like Tokyo and Osaka to Tottori then catch a local train from Tottori to Iwami.
Most people who frequent arcades and amusement parks are probably familiar with claw machines which allow players to maneuver a giant claw to grab a prize. In Japan, these claw machines are also known as UFO catchers and they’re a staple at many game centers throughout the country. Many game centers often feature toys and other merchandise from popular anime. Be warned, though. Not all of these machines use the giant claws so those aiming for a particular item might need to learn new techniques to get what they want.
There are numerous game centers throughout the country, especially in major cities. Look out for Taito Station, Adores, and SEGA and be ready to master those machines to earn some pretty awesome anime goods.
Recommended location: Shibuya branch – From Shibuya Station, walk along Inokashira Dori towards Udagawacho. This branch offers instructions in English for tourists.
Certain anime has grown so popular that there are places dedicated just for them that fans can enjoy. One of the biggest anime series, Pokemon, allows fans to visit Pokemon Centers located throughout Japan. In fact, there are so many Pokemon Centers around the country have stamp campaigns where visitors can grab cards and press a special stamp unique to that store to show that they’ve been there. Tokyo alone has over five centers while the rest are scattered throughout Japan. Can you stamp them all?
Shibuya branch – Five minutes from Shibuya Station located on the 6th floor of Shibuya Parco
Ikebukuro branch – Two minutes from Higashi-Ikebukuro Station located on the 2nd floor of Sunshine City Alpha
Still need more anime for your Japan trip? Check out KKday’s anime travel guide for more places to see!
*Featured image by Suptar on Shutterstock