Akihabara Travel Guide 秋葉原

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  • Once known as Electric Town, Akihabara is now a magnet for video games, anime, and manga hobbyists and many themed cafes.

    Just One Cookbook outside Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    We often get asked by friends and readers on Japan travel tips and itineraries so we try our best to share our Japan experiences on the blog.  However, one city we didn’t have much travel content on was Tokyo.  Why?  Since Nami’s family only lives 7 miles (15 km) from Tokyo and 15 miles (23 km) to Shibuya, it never seemed like a “Japan travel destination” for us.

    As we get repeated request for Tokyo travel guide, we spent 6 days this past summer in Tokyo exploring different wards, activities to do, places to visit and eat.  This is just the beginning of our Tokyo travel guide and we’ll continue adding to these posts as we explore new adventure and experiences.  We hope you will enjoy traveling throughout Tokyo with our family.

    The reality is that it’s impossible to finish exploring Tokyo in 6 days, or even possibly a month.  There are simply way too many options for dining, sightseeing, and entertainment!  This is our first effort to share Tokyo with you and we hope you’ll enjoy our journey.  There is something for everyone in Tokyo so pick and choose what your heart desires when you visit.

    For the Tokyo travel guide series, we’ll share the following posts:

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

    You might notice there are many areas/wards/stations we missed in Tokyo from the above list, like Tokyo Station.  It’s because we simply ran out of time to cover and will add it in a future trip.  If you have any specific requests, please comment below and we’ll try to add it to our future itineraries.

    Akihabara Travel Guide

    When we visited Akihabara, we had only planned to spend a short time there.  Somehow between the hobby stores and the video game arcades, the hours went by quickly and we ended up spending half a day.  Come join us as we explore the unique hobby stores, Don Quijote megastore, and Gachapon Hall in Akihabara.

    Around Akihabara Station

    Google Maps Akihabara
    Click to enlarge map.

    When you first exit Akihabara station, it could be difficult to orient yourself.  No worries, here’s a tip to find your way quickly,  The main strip for Akihabara is on Chuo Dori (中央通り) to the west of the station.  The east side of the station has the giant Yodobashi Camera store.  If you see the Yodobashi Camera store, head in the other direction to get to Chuo Dori.

    exterior of Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Akihabara Station.
    Yodobashi Camera AKIBA - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Yodobashi Camera AKIBA – Akihabara

    In case you’re looking for any type of consumer electronics including camera equipment, games, computers, or kitchen gadgets, Yodobashi Camera is a good bet as it’s one of the largest electronics chains in Japan.

    Just One Cookbook children in front of Yodobashi Camera AKIBA - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    As you walk to the west side of the station, the unmistakable neon lights, see through escalators, and anime billboards of Akihabara greet you.

    Just One Cookbook outside Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    West exit of Akihara Station.
    retail stores outside Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Yamada Denki LABI Akihabara (computer store)

    Just One Cookbook children in back of anime cutouts - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    In this area directly west of the station, the streets are lined with various electronics and hobby stores.

    Akihabara Hobby Stores

    As we peek inside many of the hobby stores, they are filled with clear cases featuring various comic and anime characters.  I’ll be honest, as someone who grew up in Asia and has read an obscenely large number of comic books, there’s something magical and nostalgic about all these anime characters.  It was difficult for me to suppress the urge to take some home.

    Volks Akihabara Hobby Store - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Volks Hobby Paradise ボークス 秋葉原ホビー天国

    There are small and large hobby stores, and the large stores like Volks Hobby Paradise had thousands of characters on display and each one was meticulously crafted with exact details.

    hobby store with anime figurine near Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hobby stores with anime figurines.

    hobby store with anime figurine near Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    anime figurine inside display case - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    One Piece figurines.

    There were characters from many anime but the most popular one by far is One Piece.  Quite a large percentage of the display cases featured One Piece characters.  The characters ranged from the lower range of 2,000 yen all the way up to 30,000 yen+.

    anime figurine inside display case - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    clear balls from Dragon Ball - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    As a fan of Dragon Ball, it was difficult to resist not bringing the balls home.

    Besides the hobby shops and various retail stores on the main strip, there are older malls lined with small stalls each specializing in a specific type of electronics or hobby goods.

    Mitsuwa Denki lighting store - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    small electronics vendors near Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    small hobby vendors near Akihabara Station - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Akihabara Video Arcades

    There are many differences for life in a big city between the US and Japan.  One of the big differences is the number of video arcades available.  In Japan, there are large video arcades on the top floors of malls featuring the latest video games, casino machines, and UFO catchers.  Akihabara takes this to a whole new level with entire building dedicated to arcades games including a few operated by SEGA.

    SEGA #4 store - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    To rewards our children for being such good sports and going everywhere with us, we made a quick pit stop at one of the SEGA video arcade.

    SEGA #1 store and shops on Chuo Dori - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Time Crisis 5 video game in SEGA - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Time Crisis 5 arcade machines.
    Star Wars Battle Pod video game in SEGA - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Star Wars Battle Pod

    Inside of most arcades, there are also many UFO catcher machines which offer a range of prizes from oversized snacks to stuff animals.

    UFO catchers - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Akihabara Gachapon Hall (Capsule Vending Machines)

    If you have been to Japan, you’ve probably seen Gachapon/Gashapon or the capsule vending machines. In case you’re not familiar, Gachapon is a vending machine where you put coins and twist the handlebar, and one of the random objects for the machine’s theme will come out.  They used to be present in US supermarkets and pharmacy stores but you don’t see them as often anymore.

    Akihabara Gachapon Hall - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    What’s so cool about Akihabara Gachapon Hall?  It has 400+ Gachapon machines in 1 place!

    Just One Cookbook child inside Akihabara Gachapon Hall - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Gachapon machines inside Akihabara Gachapon Hall - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    At Gachapon Hall, their vending machine gives random objects a whole new meaning.   Among the more exotic gifts you can get, they include glow sticks, BBQ beef intestine phone straps, and miniature microscope just to name a few.

    BBQ beef toys inside Gachapon machine - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    mini microscope inside Gachapon machine - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Akihabara Don Quijote

    Speaking of stores and random goods, no experience to Japan is complete with visiting a Don Quijote megastore.  The one in Akihabara is 8 floors with 2 game floors, a maid cafe, and the AKB48 theater at the top.

    Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Akihabara Don Quijote

    AKB billboard - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    So what is Don Quijote?  It’s like a general + electronics + shoe + bags + most random things discount store ever.  Here are just some of things they carry below.

    merchandise inside Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    You can buy dragon ball outfits.

    merchandise inside Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    beer foamer at Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Beer supersonic foamer and onsen tamago maker.

    onsen tamago maker at Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Besides clothing, toys, and random home goods, they also carry coin banks with characters that pop out and grab the coins with their arms, fireworks, and shampoo.  What’s fun and a bit frustrating at the same time is that the products aren’t really organized by categories so it’s a complete treasure hunt as you go inside to find what you’re looking for.  Our family had a blast this summer visiting many Don Quijote stores.

    coin bank with animated characters at Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    merchandise inside Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook child with a head dress inside Don Quijote Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Menya Haruka 麺屋はるか

    After browsing all morning, we got hungry so we stopped for delicious Taiwan Maze Soba (台湾まぜそば)  at Menya Haruka.  We previously tried Taiwan style Maze Soba in Nagoya where it was first invented but it wasn’t that good.  Since Menya Haruka is highly rated so we gave it another shot.

    menu at Menya Haruka - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    The store is quite small and only fits about 20 patrons.

    chefs cooking behind the counter at Menya Haruka - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Soon after we sat down, the noodles were served to us.  To eat the maze soba, you maze-ru (which means “mix” in Japanese) the noodles and toppings together to enjoy the noodle dish.  It turned out to be a great choice; the noodles were fantastic and the sauce was super tasty.  Just keep in mind it’s very filling and heavy, and the garlic flavor is really strong.

    mazesoba at Menya Haruka - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    mazesoba at Menya Haruka - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Akihabara Themed Cafes

    Lastly, we didn’t get a chance to do so but you can check out the several themed cafes in the area.

    Gundam Cafe at Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Akihabara is known for its themed cafes including Gundam Cafe, AKB48 Cafe, maid cafes, and animal cafes with cats and owls.

    AKB48 Cafe and Shop at Akihabara - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    maid cafe - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    girl in maid costume - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    cat cafe - Akihabara Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    As always, thank you for reading our travel post. We hope you enjoyed traveling to Akihabara with us. If you are interested in reading about other parts of Japan, check out the post below read about our other travel experiences Tokyo. We’ll see you soon in our next travel post and tour the National Museums at Ueno.

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

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