Top 5 Things to Do in Akihabara, Tokyo

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Sightseeing in Akihabara? Get ready for arcades, anime, technology, and even a little Shinto shrine history!

A Quick Look at Akihabara



A must-see for nerdy sightseers of all stripes, the Akihabara area of Tokyo gets its name from a Japanese god said to control fire, but perhaps it would have made more sense to find a god of electricity! The establishment of Akihabara Station sparked the growth of a large market in the late 1800s, and after World War II, Akihabara's sellers went from offering fresh produce to black-market goods, eventually leading to an explosion in household appliances. Since then, the Akihabara crowd has expanded to include all kinds of "otaku," and modern-day shoppers still flock to Akihabara to buy electronics both used and new, plus video games, anime and manga merchandise, cosplay materials, hobby goods, and a variety of other niche products. All kinds of hangout spaces have also popped up to let those with nerdy interests mix and mingle, including unique cafes and arcades that reach high into the sky. And of course, there is still a touch of Japanese tradition to be found in this unique Tokyo neighborhood!

Scrounge Up Some Great Deals on Tech



With origins as a marketplace for electronic goods, it's no surprise that there is still plenty of electronics shopping to be found in Akihabara. For the latest products sold brand new, a handful of large-scale major electronics chains have sprung up in the area, like Yodobashi Akiba, a Yodobashi Camera department store with six floors of electronic goods, a floor of clothing and lifestyle goods, a restaurant floor, and rooftop batting cages. Many Akihabara experts who know what they're looking for will avoid the enormous electronics department stores, however, and instead make their way to the small electronics stores selling new and used items down the smaller side alleys a little bit further from Akihabara Station. These shops have more specialized wares and staff, more unusual items, and sometimes unbeatable deals – if you get lucky!

Browse the Shelves of Anime Figures, Manga Volumes, and Endless Merchandise



Anime, manga, video game, and other character merchandise is big business in Akihabara, and there's no avoiding the many shops that specialize in these goods. Down the main street and along side alleys, there are stores selling figures of Gundam mechs and flirtatious anime heroines, cute character keychains, big stuffed Pokemon toys, pillows, posters, t-shirts, stickers, stationery, and all kinds of goods that are simultaneously tempting and clearly totally useless. Many well-known names in the business have one or more locations in Akihabara, including Animate, Lashinbang, Mandarake, and Surugaya, and for those feeling a little lost in the bustle of the area, the Akiba Cultures Zone is a 5-floor complex that makes an easy place to start. Like with electronics, though, part of the fun of Akihabara shopping is to explore the streets and enter all kinds of shops, big and small, to search for hidden treasures!

Play Games & Flip Tables in an Arcade



Photo by Sophia

For a glimpse of Japan's famous arcade scene, there's nowhere like Akihabara! While the neighborhood's famously enormous Sega arcade closed its doors back in autumn 2020, the area still has a number of huge, multi-floor buildings dedicated to arcade games of every genre, ready to take up the mantle. Classic fighting games, rhythm games controlled by feet, hands, or drumsticks, shooting games controlled by big plastic guns, racing games controlled by big plastic wheels, and even some unusual games that are unlikely to be found outside of Japan (like our favorite, where you cause as much destruction as possible by flipping a real plastic table top), the arcades have just about everything. And while you can certainly spend hours going from game to game and quickly going through hundreds of yen, you can also take some silly photobooth pictures at a purikura machine (generally found in arcades), or even watch others play certain games at a level you're not likely to reach (sometimes audiences will even form around unbelievably good players). Akihabara's arcades are worth a look, whether you frequent them back home or you're a total newbie.

Eat with Some Unique Company at a Theme Cafe



There's only so long you can shop and game before a break is in order, and when the time comes, Akihabara's nerd culture has created some interesting options for rest and relaxation. The classic Akihabara choice is a maid cafe, where young women dressed in maid costumes serve guests cutesy food, pose for photos, and occasionally perform songs or dances (all for a price). It's an experience that rests somewhere on the border between uncomfortable and not-to-be-missed. (A certain level of irony might be a prerequisite for a visit, but don't let cynicism ruin your brief trip to a magical world of pink, frills, and finger hearts!) There are a number of popular maid cafes around Akihabara, including those with different themes (sometimes it's maids with animal ears, or maids in Japanese style costumes), but there are also cat cafes, owl cafes, and other kinds of themed cafes for anyone who isn't quite ready to hang with the maids (or has been there, done that). Up until January 2022, for 12 whole years, the Gundam Cafe right next to the Akihabara Station entrance was a must-see for fans of the beloved, long-lived world of Gundam. Perhaps the lack of foreign tourists proved to be a death blow for this unique eatery. But the Gundam Cafe has paved the way for other nerdy establishments of its kind, and we look forward to seeing what will follow in its footsteps.

Pray to the Shinto Gods at Kanda Myojin



Photo by Sophia

Want to get away from the crowds of Akihabara's busy shopping streets and find a different kind of vibe? Just a few minutes on foot from Akihabara Station, the quiet grounds of the area's most popular Shinto shrine offer a different kind of Akihabara experience. Kanda Myojin Shrine was established 1,270 years ago, and is dedicated to three major deities, Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Taira no Masakado. In the Edo period (1693-1868), the shrine was important to both average citizens and the samurai class of Edo, even attracting the likes of Tokugawa Ieyasu (Japan's first shogun). These days, you're not likely to spot any samurai at the shrine, but visitors include tourists coming to see the beautiful architecture, locals out on walks, and plenty of nerdy folk taking a break from shopping. The shrine's omamori talisman offerings even include good luck charms said to ward off computer viruses and other electronics problems! Don't forget to grab your own omamori at Kanda Myojin to protect all your purchases before you leave Akihabara.

Kanda Myojin Shrine (神田明神)
2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

Around Akihabara



Photo by Sophia

Akihabara made a name for itself in postwar Japan through the sales of cheap electronics, and the area has grown into a mecca for all things nerdy, attracting visitors from all over the country (and all over the world). For anyone with a full wallet, an empty suitcase, and an interest in Japanese otaku culture, a visit to Akihabara could easily take up a whole day. But for those who want to squeeze a whole lot of Tokyo into a little bit of time, Akihabara Station is on the convenient JR Yamanote Line, which means it's easily accessible from just about anywhere in Tokyo! Plus, there are a few other areas nearby that are worth checking out at the same time. Just a 3-minute train ride (or 20-minute walk) to the north is Ueno (with its park, the zoo, museums, and plenty of nightlife), and about the same distance to the south of Akihabara is the Tokyo Station area. The more traditional neighborhood of Asakusa is only about 5 to 10 minutes away by train (depending on whether you take the Tsukuba Express or the Tokyo Metro), and while Kanda Myojin is popular in its own way, the shrine has nothing on the crowds that gather at Asakusa's famous Sensoji Temple! There's lots to do in Akihabara, but when you expand your options to include its surroundings, the possibilities are endless.

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⚔️The Robot Restaurant is gone, but the Samurai Restaurant is here to take its place. Check it out, and don't forget your coupon!
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⚔️The Robot Restaurant is gone, but the Samurai Restaurant is here to take its place. Check it out, and don't forget your coupon! 🍣신주쿠의 명소 로봇 레스토랑이 사무라이 레스토랑으로 부활! 절찬 쿠폰 발급중 💃18歲以上才能入場的歌舞秀,和你想的不一樣!拿好優惠券去看看~ #tokyo #shinjuku #samurairestaurant #robotrestaurant #tokyotrip #도쿄여행 #신주쿠 #사무라이레스토랑 #이색체험 #할인이벤트 #歌舞伎町 #東京景點 #武士餐廳 #日本表演 #日本文化體驗 #japankuru #japantrip #japantravel #japanlovers #japan_of_insta

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Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is home to the famous real-size 20m-tall Unicorn Gundam, and the popular shopping center has even more Gundam on the inside! Check out the Gundam Base Tokyo on the 7th floor for shelves upon shelves of Gunpla, and the Gundam Base Tokyo Annex on the 2nd floor for cool anime merchandise. Both shops have tons of limited-edition items! #pr #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #PR #divercity #divercitytokyoplaza #tokyoshopping #gundam #unicorngundam #gundambasetokyo #anime #otaku #gunpla #japankuru #오다이바 #다이바시티도쿄 #오다이바건담 #건담 #일본건담 #건프라 #건담베이스도쿄

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      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).

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      Sapporo, in the south-western part of Hokkaido, is the prefecture's political and economic capital. The local New Chitose Airport see arrivals from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, alongside international flights. Every February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held in Odori Park―one of the biggest events in Hokkaido. It's also a hotspot for great food, known as a culinary treasure chest, and Sapporo is a destination for ramen, grilled mutton, soup curry, and of course Hokkaido's beloved seafood.

    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

    • Akita Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, in the northern reaches of Japan's northern Tohoku region. Akita has more officially registered important intangible culture assets than anywhere else in Japan, and to this day visitors can experience traditional culture throughout the prefecture, from the Oga Peninsula's Namahage (registered with UNESCO as a part of Japan's intangible cultural heritage), to the Tohoku top 3 Kanto Festival. Mysterious little spots like the Oyu Stone Circle Site and Ryu no Atama (Dragon's Head) are also worth a visit!

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      Fukushima Prefecture sits at the southern tip of Japan's northern Tohoku region, and is divided into three parts with their own different charms: the Coastal Area (Hama-dori), the Central Area (Naka-dori), and the Aizu Area. There's Aizu-Wakamatsu with its Edo-era history and medieval castles, Oze National Park, Kitakata ramen, and Bandai Ski Resort (with its famous powder snow). Fukushima is a beautiful place to enjoy the vivid colors and sightseeing of Japan's beloved four seasons.

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      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.

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      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.

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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.

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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.

    • CHUGOKU

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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.

    • HIROSHIMA

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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.

    • SHIKOKU

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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!

    • FUKUOKA

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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.

    • KAGOSHIMA

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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.

    • OKINAWA

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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.

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