Akihabara, the holy ground for Otakus; a must visit for any true blue Otaku. Akihabara is well known for anime merchandises, electronics and exotic toys. Some establishments have several outlets along the same street selling different kinds of products.
Where to start?
Mandarake sells everything Otaku. Figures, consoles, old manga, music CDs, cosplay stuff. The list goes on. The only item that isn’t second are Doujin-shi (they sell second hand Doujin-shi as well).
Besides the price, Mandarake is extremely honesty about the condition of their goods. The condition is clearly stated, using a grading system and notes describing the defects, on every Doujin-shi, Nintendo DS, Games, from it’s packaging, instruction booklet to the condition of the actual product. It is possible to find something in a mint condition at Mandarake.
If you’re not convinced, when buying a new Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita or something behind their glass cases, you could ask the staff to open the product to have a look. It not strange to find unopened set at second-hand price.
Mandarake at Akihabara is mostly staffed by Japanese speaking staff. They employ foreign students at their establishments, especially at Akihabara. If Nihon-go doesn’t work for you, try speaking English, slowly, clearly, and pray they start running for their Gaijin part-timer.
Start with Mandarake! Be warned, it is possible to spend an entire day rummaging their building at Akihabara for loot.
Manga is common in Japan, but Doujin-shi aren’t and not every establishment carry what you want. Comic Toranoana is one such establishment that specialize in helping Doujin circles sell their works to Otakus. You don’t have to rush for Comiket or other Doujin events to grab a Doujin-shi when you can buy them directly from Comic Toranoana.
Comic Toranoana have several shops along Akihabara, all of them caters for every fetish. Hentai materials are always at the highest levels. Remember to bring your passport if you want to buy anything NSFW, their staff will check for identification if they suspect you’re below 18.
Take it as a compliment if someone of the opposite gender asks for identification.
Other than Doujin-shi, they also have a collection of games, illustration books, manga.
If TCG like Magic The Gathering, Weib Schwarz or Pokemon is what you seek, head down to Yellow Submarine. Not only an Otaku theme retailing figures and merchandises, they sell TCGs. TCG shops sells a lot of rare cards, prominently displayed on the cabinets.
Some outlets provide tables and chairs. If you’re really good with your Japanese, you could join their in house tournament or find someone who would gladly play a game or two with you.
On top of figures, merchandizes and TCGs, some of the outlets stock a huge range of model kits. Not only mecha, but tanks, battleships, guns, trains, including the various accessories to give them more bling.
Yellow Submarine also specialize in board gaming. Sadly, most of them are in Japanese. But, they sell weird dice like an extra large D20 to hurt your DM with.
Other than the Otaku stuff, Akihabara is also the hardware zone in Tokyo. If you want to build your own customized PC, Gundam or your personal Dethcube, you will need to get the materials here. Laptops are expensive and often below specifications. On the other hand, peripherals, like keyboards and mice, are competitively priced.
Nothing moe here.
Games, console, DVDs and Eroge. Traders is the place to go. They carry second-hand products. Mainly consoles and console games and gamepads. They are very honest about the condition of the products they sell. If you could master some words of Japanese, you could ask them to have a look at the product you want.
Trader’s selection of games range from localized western titles, PC games. Eroge are on the top floor.
Kimidore at Akihabara specialize in selling illustration books, A4 size folders and tapestries. Not just the normal run-of-the-mill ones, but beautifully illustrations by famous artist like Tony and CoffeeKizoku.
Kimidore is one shop you don’t want to miss if you are looking for something to fill up that empty space on your wall, or souvenir ideas for your friends back home.
It’s illustration books makes perfect coffee table books and they are not always available at second-hand shops.
If you’re an art collector, Kimidore sells paintings by famous illustrators — at a price.
Don’t miss the wall graffiti along the stairwell.
Mottainai Flea Market
The Mottainai Flea market is always held outside UDX Building on selected weekends. At Akihabara, vendors sell their second figures, folders and plushies. If you’re on a mighty quest in search of epic loot at low prices, the Flea Market is the best place to start the weekend morning. They close by late afternoon or bad weather.
Check out their website to find out when they will organize their next Flea Market at Akihabara.
There’s no better way to end the evening than to find a cozy spot at Akihabara Station to listen to street performers singing to Anime music. They are not professionals or idols but damn, they do have good voices.
Some of them sell their own CDs. Many like Rinka, don’t, and the only payment is your appreciation and support.
Akihabara is generally for the guys, although they do carry materials fujoshi will love too. However, Ikebukuro is the true fujoshi playground and holy land of BL, and that’s coming up in our next article.