In the heart of Tokyo is the fabled Akihabara – the anime and gaming holy land. Fans from around the world flock to this mecca to satisfy their nerdom. From figurines to retro video games to the latest technologies, this town is a must-stop for any otaku visiting Japan.
Once upon a time, I lived a stone’s throw away from Akihabara, and it was once a place I frequented regularly. Sometimes I would be there to buy, but most often, I simply loved wandering the shops and seeing what was on display.
Tokyo wore me out, and I don’t spend much effort missing the hustle and bustle of the largest metropolitan sprawl on earth. However, every time I return, I try my best to squeeze in one more Akihabara pilgrimage. The next time I do, you can be sure to read about my outing here on Anime Hajime.
I will admit, there is no place quite like Akihabara, but it is, by no means, the only spot in Japan to get your anime fix. Should you find yourself in any Japanese city, do your research and see if there is a local electronics district, and make an afternoon of it.
As soon as the world goes back to some sense of normal (this post came out in May 2021), I wouldn’t mind chronicling my adventures across the different anime hubs of Japan. Until then, I take solace knowing that my home base of Osaka has its own robust Akihabara-esque destination – Den Den Town.
Getting to Den Den Town
Unfortunately, no station will land you in the heart of Den Den Town. You will need to put some trust in your phone’s navigation and get in your daily steps. However, we can get you close.
Den Den Town is located in Osaka’s Nipponbashi district, nearly due south of Osaka Station.
And starting from the Osaka Station area, may I recommend two routes:
- From Osaka Station, take the JR Loop Line towards Nishikujo, Bentenchou, and Shin-Imamiya. Get off at the JR Shin-Imamiya Station and walk to Dobutsuen-Mae Station on the Osaka Metro’s Sakaisuji Line. From there, travel ONE stop and exit Ebisucho Station. Then, it is a short five-minute walk north.
- Near Osaka Station, start at Umeda Station and jump onto the Osaka Metro’s Midosuji Line. Be sure you’re heading towards Honmachi and Shinsaibashi, and get off at Namba Station. From there, it’s a five-minute walk southeast.
Regardless of where you’re journeying from, type Osaka Nipponbashi Denden Town into your phone’s GPS, and you’ll get to where you need to be.
What to Do in Den Den Town
To get the most out of your Den Den Town trip, you need to decide what you are going there to do?
Your experience will differ if you’re searching for anime goods, video game software, electronics, or card game merchandise. If there is something you want, then I highly suggest doing your research to help you be more efficient with your time.
Alternatively, I have another suggestion.
If you wish to sample a little bit of everything, why not just wander and see where your feet take you? That is what I did on this particular trip to Den Den Town (with a slight focus on perusing figurine shops).
I am not against returning to Den Den Town with a Part 2 post. But before that happens, I need to know there is a desire for me to do so. Therefore, if you wish me to make more trips with different priorities, then specific goals need to be met.
If this post reaches the following thresholds by July 31, 2021, I will be glad to oblige:
- 10 Likes – A focus on video game shops and arcades
- 20 Likes – A focus on electronic shops
- 30 Likes – A focus on trading card shops
- 50 Likes – A tour of Den Den Town’s maid cafés
So, if there is something you would like me to cover, be sure to spread the word about this post.
Figurine Hunting in Den Den Town
As for this present trip to Den Den Town, I wanted to wander and explore the many different figurine stores.
When I was living in Tokyo and visiting Akihabara regularly, I was pretty loose with my money. As a result, I’ve got a relatively decent figurine collection. But due to lack of display space, I’ve had to curb my spending habits, and I haven’t picked up a new piece in a long time.
Nevertheless, I still enjoy looking at what is on sale.
Take it from someone who’s been doing this for a while; there are some points you should know while on the hunt.
- First, do not bring bulky baggage. A small, initially empty, day bag is all you should have. These stores are incredibly narrow, and you want to ensure you’re not bumping into everything.
- Second, DO NOT BUY the second you see something you like. I cannot stress this enough. Remember where you saw your item, and keep shopping. Only make a purchase when you are ready to leave Den Den Town. This keeps your bag light, and there is a very high possibility you’ll find the same figure somewhere else at a lower price.
- Third, be open-minded. If there is a character you’re on the lookout for, that’s fine. But if you keep a sharp eye out, you might find something you didn’t consider.
- Fourth, go slow. There is no natural order to these shops. Certain franchises have their own sections (usually One Piece, Dragon Ball, and Gundam). Almost everything else, though, is pretty damn random. For me, this is what makes figurine window shopping so much fun. You never know what you’re going to find.
- Fifth, YOU ARE NOT IN THE WAY. As I said, these shops are small and narrow. Sure, try to stay as tiny as possible, but if there is something you want to look at, stop and look at it. As a quick caveat to that, do all your phone browsing either in an out-of-the-way corner or outside.
- Sixth, pay attention to where you are going. Be wary about heading towards the back or top floor of a store. This is usually where the porn is. And often, there is no way out of these sections except through the section.
- Seventh and last, no matter what you’re buying, it’s not the weirdest transaction going on. Store staff members do not care what you are picking up and will forget your face as soon as you leave. Therefore, do not be afraid to purchase something you really want.
I love Osaka and think it is a far better city than Tokyo. Be that as it may, the brutal truth of the matter is, Akihabrah’s selection far and away exceeds Den Den Town’s.
Still, if you’re willing to look, you’ll find hidden gems, which is where I will finish off this post.
My first store recommendation is anything but a hidden gem. Instead, it is one of the flagship shops of the district – Jungle.
This is one of the larger establishments in Den Den Town, and it’s definitely one of those places you’ll want to take your time exploring.
With a reliable selection of the most popular series, you’ll also find plenty of surprises in Jungle. This is where I spotted characters I’ve never seen figures of before. So be careful. It took a lot of willpower for me not to buy anything here.
Next, there was Pasomaru, which can be found across the street from the easy-to-find Animate store.
Unlike Jungle, Pasomaru is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hole-in-the-wall kind of shop. However, its second floor had one of the best selections I have ever come across. If you’re getting tired of seeing only One Piece and Dragon Ball everywhere, then I recommend giving this place a look.
Of course, it is essential to keep this in mind.
No two days are ever quite the same in Den Den Town. By the time of your visit, the entire stock might have changed. That is why you must enter this part of Osaka with a willingness to see what happens.
Visiting places like Akihabara and Den Den Town are where I like not to have a plan. I much rather pick a direction and go, seeing what I see on the way.
Osaka is home to many great places, and sadly, the city is often overlooked in favor of Tokyo. Trust me; there is more to Japan than just the capital. In fact, I argue you will find the best stuff once you step off the beaten path.
That is why when you are planning your Japan trip, be sure to consider Den Den Town.
And who knows, we may end up running into each other.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.