6 Beautiful Places to Explore in Akihabara, Tokyo
Updated: Jan 15
Akihabara has been dubbed as the "Electric city" in Tokyo. One reason for this is the city is full of amazing electronic stores. which you will find all over Akihabara. The city is also famous for anime and at night you can find all of the buildings lit up like a Christmas tree and displaying anime LED images. If you have never visited Akihabara, you are in for a treat. I have explored Akihabara eight times and will be returning back after the pandemic. It is a place where you experience the pop culture of Tokyo, which is a new normal in Tokyo. In this article, I show you 6 awesome places to travel to In Akihabara. At the end of this article, don't forget to check out the amazing tours offered in Japan. And by the way, if you want to start booking now on klook, you can get 500 yen off of your purchase. It is limited time only though.
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#1: DON QUIJOTE
WHAT THEY OFFER
The first place I would recommend you visit when you come to Japan is the Don Quijote . ドン・キホーテ If you are looking for a miracle shopping place that sells a wide variety of merchandise for a low cost, Don Quijote is the answer. Located in 秋葉原 Akihabara, next to an oishi (Japanese for delicious) ice cream place called Yum Yum Monkey, there lies an amazing super discount store that sells a plethora of merchandise including clothing, costumes, suitcases, medical items, brand name products, houseware, leisure goods, food, and electronics for a very reasonable price. In fact, when I travelled to Akihabara and shopped at the Don Quijote for the second time, I was astonished at the low prices of clothing, suitcases, and food.
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Don Quijote is comparable to the Walmart in the United States. Walmart has a variety of merchandise for a very low cost. There is a slogan regularly advertised as “Always Walmart. Always low prices.” I would apply the slogan to Don Quijote. “Always Don Quijote. Always low prices.” The merchandise in Don Quijote is carefully spread out on five crowded floors with escalators. Therefore, I would recommend planning to stay there between 1-2 hours. It is important to note the store actually starts on the second floor. Once you reach the 2nd floor, you will find a variety of food, alcohol, cosmetics, medicine, as well as season products.
The 3rd floor offers a variety of woodworking tools, fashion goods, shirts, shoes, handbags, toys, stationary, and a plethora of other merchandise.
The fourth floor consists of contact lenses, brand name products, home appliances, electronics, household groceries, and other stuff.
Then the last floor is the 5th floor. This is the floor where you will find cosplay items such as maid outfits, cat outfits, and so forth. On this same floor you will find the Home maid café.
You will find a lot of unique items at this store that Walmart certainly may not sale. Don Quijote sells all kinds of Hello Kitty products, maid costumes, as well a variety of interesting foods like squid and takoyaki (octopus). This is the perfect place to purchase souvenirs. Some of my best souvenirs include Matcha KitKats. One thing that I have learned while residing in Japan for over three years is that Japanese people love Kitkats. There are a large variety of Kitkats including flavors of Sake (Japanese alcohol), Matcha, strawberry cheese cake, and so forth that are sold all over Japan. The long list of flavors are overwhelming. Now you may not have heard of sake KitKats. If you are an alcohol drinker, perhaps you might want to give this a try. These kinds of Kit Kats are sold at Don Quijote. If you don't have the opportunity to go this year, you can pick these Kit Kats up right here. The mouthwatering Kitkats will melt in your mouth!!! YUM YUM!!!!!
Other popular souvenirs I would recommend are the following: designer chopsticks, keychains, pens, magnetics, hand fans, anime print towels, shirts, potato chips, and chocolate.
One of the advantages of shopping at Don Quijote is you can purchase all of these items at Don Quijote tax free as long as you present your passport. Plus, the store will give you 5%-8%discount off of items. That is the beauty of shopping at many stores in Japan—discounts and tax free purchases.
Don Quijote is situated on a main electric street formally known as “Chuo Dori.” The address is 4-3-3 Sotokanda Chiyoda-kuTokyo, Japan, 101-0021. From the JR Yamonote Line JR Chuo Line Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, you can amble for 3 minutes to the Akihabara Station, which is considered the Electric Town Exit. Close to Akihabara is the Asakusa outlet. The address is 2-10 Asakusa Taito-ku Tokyo, Japan, 111-0032. If you are at the Asakusa/Ginza line Asakusa Station, expect about a 9 minute walk, an 8 minute walk if you are coming from Toubu Skytree line Asakusa station, a 7 minute walk if you are coming from the Ginza line Tahara Station, and a 1 minute walk if you are coming from the Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station.
Don Quijote is widely known in Japan and the store circulates all over the country. In fact, there over 160 outlets spread throughout Japan including Tokyo. Some of the close areas in Akihabara that have outlets include Asakusa, Shibuya, Shinjinku, and so forth. You can recognize Don Qujote outlets by the catchy blue penguin logos. The penguin has a black hand and holds a black staff.
#2: YUM YUM MONKEY
The second place I would recommend you visit in Akihabara is Yum Yum Monkey, which is conveniently located on the bottom floor of the Don Quijote.
This ice cream place sells a huge variety of unique and exotic flavors including mango rasberry, kiwi, black sesame, green tea, hazelnut, soda-pop, sweet red bean, Belgian chocolate, cassis, and pistachio. For more exciting flavors and styles of ice cream, you can check out their Instagram at Instagram.com/yumyum_monkey/. These bursting of flavors will satisfy your taste buds. When I visited Yum Yum Monkey in July 2018, I tried three flavors: (1) Mango raspberry, (2) Cassis, and (3) Kiwi. Cassis is a noticeably dark purple berry that was originally cultivated in the United Kingdom. It is rich in Vitamin C. I had never heard of this fruit until I was introduced to this ice cream place. The taste of cassis is compared to raspberry.
The prices are dependent upon the number of scoops of ice cream. For example, it cost 400 yen or $3.60. A double scoop of ice cream costs 550 yen or $4.95. A triple scoop costs 700 yen or $6.30. a quadruple scoop (four scoops of ice cream) costs 850 yen or $7.65.
The temperature at the time was about 92 degrees, the perfect temperature for ice cream. The three mouthwatering ice cream flavors I tried were refreshing and delightful. Each time I took a bite of the irresistible ice cream while the sun beat down upon me, I was elated. The yummy icecream would quickly melt as it touched my mouth.
LOCATION AND HOURS OF OPERATION
Yum Yum Monkey is located on the 1st floor of the Don Quijote Akihabara branch, 4-3-3 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. This is the same address as the Don Quijote. You can read the information on the post about Don Quijote above. The ice cream business opens from 11:00 until 22:00.
#3: HEDGEHOG CAFÉ
The third place I would recommend you visit in Akihabara is the Hedgehog café. When people hear the term hedgehog, especially in Akihabara, they are immediately taken back to the Sega game “Sonic the Hedgehog.” When I was a child, I played this game. It was a very popular game at the time and was constantly talked about at school. When I came to Japan, I heard about this exotic hedgehog theme café. At this exotic themed café in Akihabara, you can play withヘッジホッグharinezumi (Japanese for hedgehog) and enjoy unlimited drinks. “Nezumi” in Japanese reads a rat or mouse. “Hari” in Japanese reads as a needle or pin. Combining these words equal a “needle mouse.”
You will take an elevator to the second floor. Upon reaching this floor, you will be introduced to a bright room of nocturnal hedgehogs. You will espy a vending machine straight ahead where you insert your yen. No reservation is required. I just walked in and paid. After paying, you will be directed to sign in, and then a staff will disinfect your hands before you handle the hedgehogs. Once that is complete, the staff will lead you to a seat. Once seated, the staff will ask you to put on blue gloves (lying on the table) and she/he will give you a hedgehog that just came out of a glass tank sitting on your table.
The gloves are required so that you do not stab your hand with the hedgehogs spines. The spines are noticeably super sharp and will cause some pain regardless if it is a baby hedgehog. Nevertheless, these hedgehogs are可愛い cute little creatures as they curl up in your arms.
When I went to this cafe, I was able to play with two hedgehogs. The first one was very energetic and wanted to move all over the place. The second hedgehog, however, was not very energetic and was much smaller than the first one I was playing with. Basically, you cuddle the hedgehogs for 30-60 minutes, take photos, and enjoy drinks. That is the experience at this themed café.
There were about 30 hedgehogs in the entire café at the time. About 10 people were in the café cuddling hedgehogs. It was crowded at the time. Some of the hedgehogs were playing in a boxed area. One of the hedgehogs was spinning a wheel while another hedgehog vivaciously moved around the area. For more pictures of hedgehogs, you can follow them on Instagram: instragram.com/hedgehog.cheese.jp/
RARE AND EXOTIC CREATURES
Hedgehogs are rare and are not native to Japan nor the United States. The U.S. has regulated hedgehogs as pets. Hedgehogs can be domesticated. These exotic creatures are very expensive to maintain and very difficult to find in other countries. The theme café is trying to demonstrate the animals are charming and can be cuddled, at least in a safe manner.
WHAT DO THEY EAT
While cuddling one of the hedgehogs, I noticed a staff feeding a hedgehog. Hedgehogs eat an animal feed containing a mixture of insects, chicken meal, wheat, and vegetable matter.
The temperature in a hedgehog café is vitally important. The staff must be able to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees to keep the creatures from experiencing some illness or even worse death.
The staff were very accommodating and professional. I would definitely go there again. I think the price is little too high, but I would go there to create another video and gather more details about the culture of hedgehogs at the café.
The price at the hedgehog café is 1,500 yen or $13.50 for 30 minutes. It is 1,000 yen or $9.00 for children. The prices are a little exorbitant for a café. I noticed though I had exceeded my 30 minutes and the staff did not seem to care. Handling hedgehogs in Japan May be a once and a lifetime experience for you.
Hedgehog cafes have undoubtedly gained media attention. In fact, many hedgehog cafés are starting to spread all over Japan. The famous “Harry” hedgehog café is located in the Roppongi district in Tokyo, Japan. Another hedgehog café is called “The ChikuChiku Café and it is situated in Shibuya. This café is very unique in the sense that it is set up like a doll house that occupies hedgehogs. You will find bedrooms, bathrooms, and classrooms designed for the hedgehogs. The café recently opened in 2018.
LOCATION AND HOURS OF OPERATION
The hedgehog café is a 3 minute walk from Akihabara Station. The address is 4-4-3 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, and it is located on the 2nd floor of the Ogiso Building. The hours of operation are 11:00 until 20:00.
Look at that smile that I have cuddling a hedgehog. What are you waiting for:
If you have never had the opportunity to cuddle with these cute creatures, here is your chance.
#4: GINDACO RESTAURANT (TAKOYAKI KING!)
The fourth place I would recommend you visit is the Gindaco Restaurant in Akihabara. The restaurant serves amazing and delicious takoyaki. Takoyaki is a fried breaded ball like octopus. The cooks can prepare some awesome takoyaki in Japan. This food is not only commonly sold in restaurants but by vendors on street corners.
I ordered takoyaki along with ponzo sauce, which is a citrus based brown colored sauce commonly served at Japanese restaurants. Ponzo sauce can be served alongside fish dishes such as fugu, tuna, swordfish, etc.
When the waitress served me the takoyaki, I poured the ponzo sauce into a bowl, dipped the takoyaki in it and took a bite of it. The taste was awesome, but it was flaming hot and literally scalded my mouth.It was shocking how hot those balls were. The takoyaki had just been taken off of the grill. I should have allowed the food to cool down before tasting it.
.Nevertheless, the takoyaki was cooked just right. The chewy, gooey, and crispy texture inside the center of the takoyaki at the gindaco restaurant was perfectly sublime. The chunky and juicy octopus just quenched my taste buds as soon as it entered my mouth.
Gindaco is the king of takoyaki. I have been impressed with the takoyaki here in Japan. However, the takoyaki at this particular restaurant trumps many of the takoyaki places I have eaten at this beautiful country.
How is Takoyaki made? The chefs have ball like molds for the takoyaki. They scoop batter into the round molds and then lay a plump and juicy octopus inside the mold. The chef then stirs the batter using long toothpicks. The batter starts to harden some and turns into a perfect flour ball.
I paid about 400 yen or $3.60 for 4 takoyaki balls. That is a very cheap price considering that it filled me up for the evening. In the past, however, I have found 4 takoyaki balls for 200 yen or $1.80. The important note though is that texture does matter when it comes to takoyaki. The takoyaki at the Gindaco restaurant had a better taste and the octopus was much larger compared to the octopus found in takoyaki at takoyaki stands in Tokyo.
#5: TAM TAM HOBBY SHOP
RARE AND UNIQUE MERCHANDISE
The fifth place I would recommend you visit is the Tam TamHobby Shop in Akihabara. Regarded as one of the most gigantic hobby stores in Akihabara, the Tam Tam Hobby Shop occupies two floors that are supplied with everything including new and antique die-cast model like sports cars, trucks, helicopters, motorcycles, anime figures, plastic models of colorful and unique RC race cars, gundam figures, and remote controlled vehicles. Some of the remote control vehicles that I found appealing included the German Tank Panther Ausf.a., the aero Rover, and the Neo fighter buggy. Comparing prices in the U.S., you can easily make between $100-$200 dollar profits on these items depending upon what you purchase at this store of course. The list of hobby merchandise is virtually endless. The shop even sells parts for a model train system including the train, the tracks, and other parts that are essential for the train to function. The Tam Tam Hobby shop is a collector’s heaven.
I have visited this store in Akihabara many times and I have been impressed every time. When I first visited the store in 2017, the store offered a huge variety of airsoft pistols and rifles. I went back to the store several times in 2018 and noticed the airsoft guns were absent. I am not sure what prompted a change, but that was the most unique arsenal of airsoft weapons I have seen while living in Japan.
FASCINATION OF GUNDAM FIGURES
The first time I visited the store, I was mesmerized by the wide array of Gundam like action figures. Gundam is a popular icon in Japan, especially from an anime perspective. In fact, there is a massive human like Gundam figure in a city called Odaiba, Japan. Check out my article here. 41 Things to Do in Odaiba, Japan--Attractions in Japan. I have been there many times and I have written about this Gundam city.
Nevertheless, the store Tam Tam Hobby shop also sells gundam figures you can put together yourself. I ended up buying one of them and have been meticulously working towards piecing it together. It is like a puzzle because you need to connect the parts (e.g. the arm to the body, the arm body armor to the arm and so forth). Working to piece together this beautiful and intricate masterpiece is a fun hobby though.
LOCATION AND HOURS OF OPERATION
The Tam Tam Hobby shop is located on the 4th and 5th floors in the Sakai-Suehiro building at 6-14-2 Kanda sotokanda Chiyoka, Tokyo. The hours of operation are from 11:00 until 21:00 on weekdays and from 10:00 until 21:00 on Saturadays, Sundays, and public holidays.
Special Edition car
The sixth place I would recommend you visit in Akihabara is the Surugaya 駿河屋 秋葉原店 レトロゲーム館 specialty store, which can be found in two places in Akihabara, Tokyo. At the newest Surugaya store, which opened in April 2016, there are four flours. On the first and second floors, you will find a variety of blueray dvd and cds that pertain to anime, Japanese music, jazz, classic, and western music. Once you reach the third floor, you will find dolls and plastic action models. Then the final floor sells action figures.
The second location is smaller than the one previously described. At the door entrance, there is usually a huge basket full of action figures for sale. Once you walk into the store, you will find a great selection of action figures. At both stores, I was able to locate many mobile suit gundam plastic models. Each time I catch a glimpse of model action figures, I have been amazed how realistic they appear to be when they are displayed as a model. I have also been impressed with the intricate and meticulous design of action figures like Dragon ball Z, for instance.
If there were particular action figures or anime DVDs you were unable to find at both locations of Surugaya, I would recommend searching online. You can check out this website: suruga-ya.jp/ it is a Japanese site, but you can translate it into English or your native language. The online store offers a better selection of items.
The fact is Japan is a master of art. Many people who study art come to Japan because the country has some of the best art schools in the world. It shows when you go to anime and action figure stores and are captivated by their unique and creative designs. After visiting many anime and action figures in Japan, you are left to ponder about the power of art.
The newest Surugaya is located on Chuo-dori (the main street of Akihabara). The address is 4-5-1 Sotokanda, Chiyokda-ku, Tokyo. The second Surugaya is located in the Yamamoto MusenBuilding at 1-15-15 Sotokanda, Chiyod-ku, Tokyo Japan. It is a 2 minute walk from the Akihabara train station.
The 6 places I would recommend you visit in Akihabara are some of my favorite. The huge problem that arises with this city, is that it is jam packed with so much action, that people find themselves losing track of time. This is a problem that I face everytime I go to Akihabara. It’s not just the anime and electronics that draws people. It is the restaurants too. The place is fabulous for visiting.
The city of Akihabara is known as a dynamic and electric city. One reason for this argument is that you will find some of the best electronic stores in the country. There are not only large electronic stores like Yodobashi, Bic Camera, just to name a few, but there are small little spaces along the roads in which you can find all kinds of electronics. Akihabara is an electronic paradise that sells every kind of electronic you can ever imagine.
In addition, there are a variety of theme cafes including hedgehog, owl, and shooting bar theme cafes in Akihabara. If you want to have fun in Akihabara and have the full experience there, I would recommend you block out a few days to visit Akihabara. It is a place where you will want to keep coming back for more! As of 2020, I have visited 70 theme cafes!! Crazy right.
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