Akihabara – is it the dream of every Figure Collector to be in the home and world of anime series?
Worked hard and saved up some moolah for a week’s trip to Japan? Are you thinking to yourself – “I must visit all the anime stores and buy some collectables back”? I have this thought 6 months into my full-time work and told myself it is a good time to take a break. People know Akihabara as the electric town as it sells a lot of electronic goods. Over time, it became the place to go to for pop-culture and anime-culture consumer goods.
I went to Tokyo from 22nd March 2019 and 6th April 2019. It was a total period of 14 days, excluding flight time that has transferred in Bangkok, Thailand. Tokyo was just one of the places I went – I did travel out to the nature areas and popular tourist places too.
I will share with you the top 5 places to visit to purchase your favourite character and anime merchandise in Akihabara. For reading ease, I will be splitting my list up. Finding these places can be difficult but do not worry as they are all listed on Google Maps. Do Google the names and save/bookmark the places to your favourites!
- Akiba Culture Zone
- Carries trendy and lower-value merchandise
- Caters to all kinds of audience
- Easy accessible from the main street
- Google Map Link here
Animate’s main headquarters is at Ikebukuro and it is a place that is not so well-known for anime merchandise but Animate has established itself as a chain business that is able to adapt and appeal to the female target audience as well. As a result, many people know this brand name and can be found in many places.
You can find this store chain easily by walking along the main street of Akihabara and the whole store consists of 7 floors. I actually found it difficult to climb up and down the stairs with so many people. On a quick glance around the store, you will be able to find that there is no bias to age groups or genders. Upon entering the store, I observe that many young students, adults and tourists are browsing keychains or wallpapers of their favourite anime series with happy smiles on their faces.
I found myself browsing merchandise happily because the atmosphere makes so much difference.
The things they carry
The merchandise that Animate tend to carry would be character goods, stationery, badges and many other interesting small stuff. The prices range from 500 yen to 2,000 yen, usually more expensive for newly released items. If you’re not careful, you will find yourself walking out with a basket of anime goodies!
Images source: beacon-akiba
- Each store specializes in a different line of merchandise
- Prices are generally lower than most stores
- Can be a great place to source for 2nd-handed items
This store is one of my favourite stores to visit. They actually have 6 stores throughout Akihabara!! 6 – can you imagine it? Each of these 6 stores specializes in different merchandises. I took the liberty of exploring all of them to find out what is so unique about each store. Apparently, this chain is pretty new as well – being established in Credit card is available for use here and they are available for sale online for overseas purchases!
However, not all the stores are listed on Google Maps. You can find a map that displays all the stores’ location on their name card, pamphlet or brochure.
Compare the prices through various stores in Akihabara before buying!
Turns out, the prices in each store actually differ greatly. For instance, Store A was selling Nero Claudius figurine at 12,000 yen(about SGD) and Store D was actually selling it at 6,500 yen. I’ve checked the figurines – the conditions are pretty similar but the price difference is huge!
Eventually, I went to this outlet beside Mandarake Complex. What I love about this outlet is they have half a level dedicated to the Fate series and they have items ranging from scale figures, gacha prizes, pillows, accessories, stationery, posters and many more. Check it out if you are keen since it is actually next to Mandrake!
Eventually, I bought some second-hand figurines from this outlet. In fact, I scour the other stores and compare prices before making my grand purchase of Fate/Grand Order goodies. In total, I bought 4 figurines! One of them would be Fate/Grand Order Lancer/Tamamo no Mae 1/7 Scale Figure.
- Only second-hand items
- Prices are generally cheaper than shops in the main street
- Have some floors specialising in robots, Kamen rider, retro games, Western toys etc
- The treasure trove of vintage items
- 1st floor is a trading floor where you can sell your figurines
- Google Map Link here
I found this place after resisting hordes of girls trying to advertise and get me into cafes down the side street of Akihabara. The street that is facing the entrance of the Mandrake complex is a very popular spot for them to hook up unwary guys. Also, the Lawson convenience store nearby is a Chinese vampire-themed cafe.
Once entering Mandrake, I realized that the 1st floor does not have much merchandise for sale. It is actually a place for people to trade in their figurines and merchandise for cash. Do avoid taking the lift up as well – it will be a long wait. You can actually climb the stairs outside.
Back to the good old times!
This floor sells video games, anime Blu-ray discs, DVDs and waves of nostalgia flow through my head. Rows and rows of old and retro series can be found wrapped nicely and ready for sale. It felt like I was back in time. In fact, I felt like I was stuck in the passage of time. I spent some time browsing the PS1 games that I used to play in my childhood. The prices are about 1,500 yen to 2,000 yen per game disc since they are out of production already.
Proceeding to the various floors, one can find rows of glass cabinets filled with toys that would belong to anyone’s childhood in the 1990s. I really love how these pre-loved items are treated and represented respectfully, ready for any owners to pick them up anytime (provided if they have the cash to do so).
- Expect a mix of brand new and 2nd-hand items
- Features more than just your typical bishoujo, scale figures, Nenodroids
- Has more mecha-related products like frame arts girls, Gunpla that are cheaper than other shops
- Upper floors tend to have more PC-related software like drama CDs, video games, hardware
- Google Map Link here
Who knew Sofmap is part of BicCamera Group? Shopping here is quite interesting. Next to the main entrance would be Tamashii Nations where you can find the latest Saint Seiya, Dragon Ball, Gunpla and the latest Tamashii Nations brand figures. Occasionally, they also figure limited time large figures. I would advise checking out more places first before making a purchase as usual because the prices would be the steepest.
What they carry
The 1st floor is all GUNDAM! Just looking at all the Gunpla box art makes me so happy. The thing I found out about Sofmap is that their prices for Gunpla are really good! For instance, the average prices of an MG would be about 10-15% cheaper than any other shops. Above all, the reasoning for this would be their association with Bic Camera – which carries Gunpla as well.
On a side note – the top floor of Bic Camera Akihabara has toys and Gunpla so make sure you check it out too!
- An impressive variety of series
- Great place to buy low-priced figurines (without box)
- Staff are very friendly and will assist you in checking figurines before purchase
- Google Map Link here
Plenty of online websites and guides would recommend this place for starters exploring Akihabara. Unmistakably, this place stands out due to its large company name at the top of the building. The store is huge and is a confusing maze of anime heaven. Navigating the tons of anime goods displayed sure was tiring!
In conclusion, it is pretty impossible to list down every store in Tokyo that has anime merchandise because every other corner might have this small shop that sells. Besides, List 2 will be up soon for your research! I will try to cover most major brands so that you can have an easy time recognizing the big names when you’re there.