As the sacred ground of otaku heaven, nothing says Japanese anime and otaku culture like Akihabara. If you’re looking for anime figurines, retro video games, manga of all categories and other collectable items, Akihabara is the place to be.
As a full time, hard core otaku myself, I’m here today to give you a walk-through of things to do and enjoy in Akihabara.
Game centers are a popular, casual leisure spot for Japanese people. In Akihabara, you can try your luck at one of the many crane game machines where otakus spend thousands and thousands of yen to try and get their favourite figurines, plushies, keychains and other kinds of prizes. Sometimes the prizes inside the crane game machines cannot be bought at regular merchandise shops, so if you want it badly enough, prepare to pay out your bank account to get it. The staff at the game centers will arrange the display so that it looks like a cinch, but once you insert your coins, you’ll find that it’s a whole different story. Typically, if you have a lot of patience and relatively good aim, it’ll cost an average of 3000-4000 yen to get whatever it is you’re aiming for. And the bigger the prize, the harder they make it for you. Although it can be frustrating as h*ck when you’ve put in more than 3000 yen into one machine with no reward (which can happen quite often), the feeling of satisfaction when you see your prize finally fall down into the bottom compartment is something that you just can’t get anywhere else.
There are manga cafes on every corner in Akihabara where you pay an hourly rate to have all the mangas, mangazines and DVDs in the cafe at your disposal (they’ll all be in Japanese of course).
These places are really handy for people like me who can’t afford to buy whole series of manga (as some of them can be quite long and get pretty expensive) or don’t have enough room in their own homes to store everything. Small appetizers and drinks are often offered at these manga cafes to help customers enjoy and possibly extend their stay. Some larger manga cafes even provide individual booths, computer/internet spaces, and nap areas where travelers looking for cheap accomodation can spend the night.
Animate is the official anime merchandise department store of Japan. It carries everything from mangas to DVDs, from key chains to collectable goods, and from wigs and accessories to full cosplay outfits of current, popular animes. A few branches also have what’s called the Animate cafe where original menus of extremely main stream anime made provided. All these cafes require reservations before hand and depending on how popular the menu of the anime is based on, reservations can be booked-out weeks in advance! I once tried to reserve a limited edition menu of one of my recent favourite anime and the only availability was 10 days away……the wait was real…
Maid Cafes >> Blog
Akihabara is famously known for the many maid cafes in its vicinity. Almost always, you will be able to see cute girls dressed in maid outfits standing out on the streets handing out fliers to their cafe. Otakus (guys and girls) pay quite the rates for strictly timed sessions in these cafes where they are referred to as “Master” or “Mistress” and are served by waitresses dressed in cute maid outfits.
Some menu items you would typically find at a maid cafe include omurice (omlete rice), art latte, and cutely decorated desserts. Some cafes offer a Russian Roulette style game session where you’re given a platter of takoyaki (octopus balls) or small drinks with 1 or 2 of them containing something spicy or that doesn’t taste nice. You and your maid will take turns eating/drinking them to see who gets lucky and who gets the short end of the stick~
That’s all for today. See you next time!
Written by Annie