Japan is not just known as the land of the rising sun. It is also the land where amazing anime and manga are created! It is the mecca of anime and manga and the holy land of all otaku. To those who are not yet familiar with what an anime and a manga is, an anime is an animated work whether a television series or a movie while a manga is an illustrated work whether serialized or published per volumes (book) through a publisher or created by fans or circles for independent publishing. Some of the famous anime and manga are Dragon Balls, Sailormoon, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Shingeki no Kyojin, Gundam, Lupin III and Rorouni Kenshin.
Every die hard fan, most commonly known as an otaku, or any other fan of anime and manga would definitely love to go to Japan once in their lives (or go back there several times). I am a fan too and I would love to tour Japan to satisfy my inner otaku.
Touring Japan to visit all of the anime and manga related sites would definitely be on every otaku’s travel to do list. (It’s on mine!) And any die hard fan of anime and/or manga would probably agree with me that it will be a great experience to look forward to.
I have been constantly planning my travel plans and what places to visit. Although I am still in the process of saving for this dream trip, I would already like to learn of the places that I would be going to see. It is great to get information so that I would know what to expect and what to look for in a particular place.
I would like to share a list of great places to visit to satisfy your inner otaku. Not everyone is a die hard fan but each one of us would definitely be an otaku of something. Here are eight great places you can go to if you want to join me in my pilgrimage to the anime and manga mecca.
Akihabara (most commonly known as Akiba after a former local shrine) is the center of anime, manga and gaming in Japan. If I may say, it is the capital of the otaku holy land. It is also well known for its many electronics shops as well as the anime stores, maid cafes and manga shops. Akiba is in Tokyo and just off of JR Akihabara Station. As soon as you walk off of the station, you can already start exploring all the great stores there. If maid costumes are your thing, you will be able to see maid café staff promoting in the street. If you are lucky, maybe you can catch a few pedestrian cosplayers, too. You can go to Animate for anime and manga goods and Gamers for gaming and anime goods. If you are after Japanese electronics while also on your otaku pilgrimage, then Akiba is definitely the place for you.
2. Nakano Broadway
Nakano Broadway is a famous shopping complex in Tokyo for its anime, manga and idol goods. There are a lot of collectibles you can purchase in Nakano Broadway. Nakano Broadway is also in Tokyo and the complex is just a few minutes from the train station. This four level complex is also home to game consoles, video games, animation or idol related CDs, animation characters’ figurines and other collector’s items. You can head to the second and third levels for the anime and idol-related shops. Mandarake is a great shop I recommend for your manga needs.
3. Gundam Front Tokyo
The Gundam Front Tokyo is an indoor theme park in the top floor of Diver City Tokyo complex located in Odaiba. You can buy Gundam models and other Gundam-related goods aside from the many attractions centered on the series.
I would definitely want to see the “life size” model of a Gundam. I have followed several of the Gundam animation series for years. There is a show at a certain set time where the Gundam lights up and there are smoke and sound effects as well. Only its head moved though. I watched it in a video before and I almost wished the Gundam was really fully functional. (Please let me know if you agree with me.)
4. Pokemon Center
Pikachu, I choose you!
Okay, I really just wanted to say that. I’m sure that many know what a pokemon is. But just to be sure, they are pocket monsters that can be captured in pokeballs and can be trained to fight. They also evolve into stronger pokemons. Pokemon has many animated series and movies. It is also a famous game in consoles and trading cards. Pokemon Centers are found all throughout Japan. You can also find toys, stationery and exclusive Pokemon items in the store.
5. Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum is also located in Tokyo. It is home to the Ghibli Studios characters in all of the movies that we love. Have you watched Miyazaki Hayao’s works like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea or My Neighbor Totoro? If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend watching them before going there. I also recommend my top favorites (since I like a lot of their movies) which are Howl’s Moving Castle and the tear-jerker Grave of the Fireflies. These movies have English versions but you can also watch with English subtitles for an authentic feel. You will be able to watch short movies by Studio Ghibli that are only exclusive to the museum at their small theater if you go to the first floor.
6. Kyoto International Manga Museum
This is the heaven of manga. The Kyoto International Manga Museum is a few minutes from the Karasuma-Oike Subway Station in Kyoto. It boasts a massive collection of manga that you can browse. It also features adoption and development of manga internationally. There are also special exhibitions and other manga related events held in the museum. If you are a manga otaku, you would almost wish you can live there. There is a section dedicated to foreign and translated manga but most are in Japanese. For those who can read Japanese, you are in for a great treat!
7. Huis Ten Bosch
Huis Ten Bosch is a theme park located in the Nagasaki Prefecture. The theme park recreates a Dutch town and named after one of the residences of the Dutch Royal Family. It boasts of beautiful gardens, architecture, iconic windmills and picturesque canals. The resort is divided into two areas: the Theme Park Zone and the Free Zone. There is admission in the Theme Park Zone but the Free Zone does not although the attractions can either be free or paid in both of them. Most of the attractions are located in the Theme Park Zone. The reason why I put this on my list is because I am a One Piece fan and I want to ride on the Thousand Sunny Cruise in the Free Zone. I want to ride it and pretend to be a pirate myself. (Who wouldn’t?)
8. Den Den Town
Den Den Town is located in Nipponbashi area in Osaka just off of Namba Station. You can compare it to Akiba of Tokyo where you can purchase electronics, manga and anime goods. It is slowly becoming known as an otaku paradise like Akiba.
These are just a few of the great places I would like to visit in Japan to satisfy my inner otaku. I will be writing more things about Japan in the future and I hope to add more great sites and events to visit then.
If you are making your own travel plans, I suggest that you choose the places that you want to go to the most. If you want, you can also attend events for otaku. See you there! Bye-bee!