If you’re a true follower of the Japan Nakama blog, you’ll recognise the photo above from our recent MagicalTrip article. You’re probably wondering, ‘why use the same image?’ – And no, it’s not because we’re short on photos… It’s because for today’s blog we’re in Akihabara, the anime and gaming centre of the world! While an Akihabara tour may seem counterintuitive to those of you who just want to spend a day or two gaming your lives away here, I want to present to you one of the most immersive Japan anime and gaming tour packages on the market; MagicalTrip’s Akihabara walking tour. Composed of Akihabara’s best maid cafes, Tokyo’s glittering sega arcade style pachinko parlours and some of the most addictive gachapon in Tokyo, this Akihabara tour is undoubtedly your gateway into all that this neighbourhood has to offer.
So let’s dive right in! But first, let’s have a quick history lesson to truly understand what makes Akihabara the place that it is.
‘Anime stores in Akihabara’, ‘cosplay in Akihabara’, ‘maid cafes in Akihabara’, ‘gachapon in Akihabara’, these are the things that this area of Tokyo are world-renowned for. But are these the things that this neighbourhood was always known for?
Initially, Akihabara was nothing special; just some homes and a train station. The growth of the neighbourhood really began after World War II. Masses of soldiers returned home from the war and began looking for employment opportunities. Because of the nature of many soldiers’ jobs during the war, many had skills in the engineering and technological fields. As more and more of these veterans gathered in Akihabara, it soon became the go-to place for radios and other electronics. Around the 1970s, the area grew in popularity, becoming the one-stop-shop for electronic goods. All kinds of replacement parts also began being sold. The economy in the neighbourhood was booming and new tech was continuously emerging from the area.
In 1995, the release of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ spelled a new chapter in Akihabara’s history. Before you knew it anime merchandise became the key source of revenue in the area. Sadly, this pushed out a lot of Akihabara’s old tech vendors. However, this made room for what it is today: the gaming and anime heart of Japan.
This present day Akihabara is brimming with maid cafes, some of the largest cosplay stores in Japan and the most vibrant gaming scene and gachapon in Tokyo, so let’s dive into this Akihabara tour and discover an unbeatable Japan anime tour package!
If you’ve made the smart decision to join one of MagicalTrip’s small-group Akihabara tours, your first stop is going to be one of Akihabara’s (many) retro games shops. Akihabara is very much a modernised, trendy district. However, it has many of these hidden gems; ageing, nostalgic video game stores. When it comes to charm, these top any anime store in Akihabara. Sega Japan is one of the world’s most widely recognised gaming companies. It was the flagship stores of massive companies such as Sega in Akihabara that allowed independent retro game shops to pop up around the area.
These days, the main demographic of buyers at these shops tend to be those who want to relive the old times or feel a nostalgic bliss as they play the classics. As part of the Akihabara walking tour, explore inside ‘Super Potato’ retro shop. It’s a classic Akihabara arcade and candy store all in one with some of long forgotten games lining the shelves. The only checkbox left empty by this dainty store is gachapon, which is certainly a must-do. A fair warning though, the Akihabara gachapon experience will likely leave you having spent a few more yen than you intended to… You can check out gachapon in Tokyo on a different day, so let’s continue on to the next part of the tour!
A Side Quest For You…
If you’ve seen any building in Akihabara, you’ll know just how many floors they have. When you’re done with ‘Super Potato’, checking out the other floors in the surrounding buildings is definitely worth doing. Your tour guide with MagicalTrip is ready to assist in any translation or character finding! Akihabara’s anime figure stores are world famous for their wide range of collectors items and quirky models. So what better time to get your hands on anime figurines than during your Akihabara tour, the one time you’re stood in the heart of anime! Also, many of the anime stores in Akihabara have a unique system for purchasing figures, so be sure to ask your guide about that!
After a much more relaxing retro shopping experience, it’s time to head to the maid cafe for some drinks and entertainment! If you aren’t already familiar with the concept of maid cafes, they are essentially a regular cafe – only you are served by a group of waitresses dressed in maid outfits. With MagicalTrip, you can enjoy one free complimentary drink, and enjoy a night of entertainment as the waitresses perform songs and dance.
To top off your Akihabara maid cafe experience, take a complimentary purikura (プリクラ) polaroid with one of the waitresses – that’s on MagicalTrip! At this point, your Akihabara tour is technically over. However there is one last thing you really need to experience, for which you can ask your guide for directions… One of the biggest cosplay stores in Japan! Akihabara cosplay is massive, so you’ll often see youth walking the streets as L Lawliets, Narutos and Zero Twos.
Now that we’ve had a look at what MagicalTrip’s Akihabara tour has to offer, I think we would agree that it is arguably the best anime tour in Japan. Not only do MagicalTrip offer an immersive experience, but their friendly guides and even friendlier price tags mean you can enjoy a comfortable touring experience! Let’s end this blog with a few other things you might want to check out while in the area:
Mario Kart Japan – If you’ve ever dreamed of go karting in Tokyo (haven’t we all?) then yes, this is real! The Mario Kart Tokyo experience involves dressing up (optional) and hopping into video game style karts to zip around different areas of the city.
Gachapon – Mentioned earlier in this article, certainly one of the most addictive things you can do is play Gacha. This twisting game of guess the character, as you spin a machine that might just drop your favourite one!
Figurine Shopping – We’ve discussed the anime stores in Akihabara you have the chance to visit during the Akihabara walking tour. However I should also mention the more ‘niche’ stores sell stunning collectors figurines. From Studio Ghibli miniatures to countless other anime figurines you can find all kinds of trinkets. They’re usually the smaller shops, so keep an eye out.
So in case you missed the link the first 50 times… The → MagicalTrip ← website is the place you need to head to book your tour early!
While you’re waiting to jet off to experience the lights of Akihabara though, you could check out this video below in which akidearest goes on the tour with some friends. If you’re really not interested in the Akihabara walking tour, or a Japan anime tour just isn’t your thing, MagicalTrip has a multitude of other tours, so still check them out! Alternatively… You guessed it, you can click here to head over to our Japan Nakama online store!