To many, the artistic styles of anime cartoons and manga comic books are synonymous with Japanese culture. Not only are these entertainments enjoyed within Japan, but fans flock from around the world to experience anime themed places and events. Consider this list of some of the best anime and manga experiences that Japan has to offer.
Tokyo Otaku Districts
Akihabara: the Otaku Paradise
Akihabara, also known as Akiba or Electric Town, has been called an otaku paradise. Electronics and anime-themed shops about, as do otaku maid cafes, in which the staff are dressed as anime characters. You can also find “self-published” manga that are difficult to acquire elsewhere.
In a small area, 5 minutes from Akihabara Station, we can find specialized stores such as:
- The Mandarake Complex, where, in addition to manga comics, you can find all kinds of merchandise in anime, manga, and video games.
- Animated Akihabara, located in the considered ground zero of the otaku world, is a shop where you can find comics and merchandise of the most novel manga and anime.
- A few steps away we can find Taranoana Comics, with a large assortment of manga and doushinji.
Ikebukuro: J-World Tokyo, Namja Town, Otome Road
J-World Tokyo is an indoor amusement park based on Shonen Jump characters, such as those from One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z.
Namja Town is another indoor theme park, where you can eat an ice cream cone crafted to resemble your favorite character, try foods from all over Japan, shop, or capture “Unidentified Mysterious Mononoke” using an electronic fishing rod.
Otome Road is directed towards anime’s female audience. Also called the Maiden Road, it features shopping centers where visitors can purchase anime and manga themed products, magazines, and novels, all crafted with fans of yaoi, or “boy’s love,” in mind.
Anime and Manga Themed Stores
Gundam Base Tokyo
The Gundam franchise is one of the most enduring among animes, beginning in 1979. Gundam Base traces the history in its museum displays and also offers plenty of shopping opportunities – including models that can be assembled in-store and Gundam themed refreshments. Don’t forget to take a selfie beside the life-sized Gundam suit standing watch outside.
Often called “collector’s haven”, Nakano Broadway (Tokyo) is the shopping center to visit for rare and hard-to-find anime and manga goods. There are twenty-seven different shops in this location, including clothing stores and a grocery store.
Pokemon Centers and Stores
Found throughout the country, the most well-known venue is the Pokemon Mega Center Tokyo. The Mega Center carries much memorabilia that can only be purchased in Japan – including edible souvenirs such as drinks, noodles, and cookies.
Tokyo Character Street in Tokyo Station
This underground shopping street has stores that feel like your typical Hallmark chain store, with one exception – every card, book, stuffed animal, or décor item is themed to match an anime series. Shops include the Hello Kitty Shop, Studio Ghibli Official Shop, Rilakkuma Store, Pretty Cure Shop, and more. Ichiban Plaza offers exclusive, limited edition merchandise.
Anime and Manga Museums
Suginami Animation Museum
This museum is filled with interactive workshops, an anime theater, and an extensive anime library. Fans can learn about the craft and history of anime from exhibits on animation, voice dubbing, and where anime may be headed next.
Kyoto International Manga Museum
The Kyoto International Manga Museum elevates this art style to a science. This museum “strives to preserve, study, and research the culture of manga throughout history.” How much manga does the Kyoto Museum hold? You’ll find manga pages all around you – not just in the displays, but covering the floor on which you walk!
Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum
Constructed to resemble a medieval European castle, this museum celebrates the nature-inspired work of Tezuka Osamu. These include the famous, classic anime, Astro Boy.
Studio Ghibli is one of anime’s landmark production companies, creating favorites such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Exhibits include a rooftop garden, a model of the Cat Bus in which children can play, bookstore, and displays of the animation process.
In our article about the Ghibli Museum, we tell you more about its opening times, tickets and prices and particularities.
Anime and Manga Theme Parks
One Piece Tower
Celebrating the popular series One Piece, this attraction, located in the Tokyo Tower, features hands-on entertainment in which you can be a One Piece character, wielding a katana. A live stage performance brings the story to life, and stores provide One Piece souvenirs available nowhere else.
Hello Kitty and her friends were created to epitomize “Japanese cuteness”. At Hello Kitty Land Tokyo, you can enter her world, where you will meet the characters, view live shows and parades, and shop for “cute and crazy” collectibles.
Other Anime and Manga Locations to Visit
A visit to the Dogo Onsen, in Matsuyama, will allow you to relive a beloved anime film as well as experience true Japanese culture. The Dogo Onsen inspired Yubaba’s bathhouse in the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away. The onsen’s popularity surged after the film’s release.
Universal Studios Osaka
In addition to attractions based on popular Hollywood films, Universal Studios is now home to “Universal Cool Japan” – an area dedicated to Japanese favorites such as Sailor Moon.
If amusement parks are your thing, you might want to take a look at our article about amusement parks in Japan.
How will you pursue your own anime fantasy? With your Japan Rail Pass in hand, you’ll be ready for an adventure like no other.