Written by: Gabriel Castillo
Published on: November 28, 2021 at 21:15 PHT (GMT+8)
Traveling to Japan someday is a definite dream for anime fans. Surely, fans would want to experience the different aspects of Japanese culture that they see in different series and maybe fulfill some anime-related dreams (e.g., visit a maid café or have a picnic under a sakura tree). Since Japan is quite massive, for now let’s take a quick look at 7 places in Tokyo where you can fulfill some of your anime dreams.
Feed Your Otaku Needs
First up is every anime fan’s dream location: Akihabara. The district, also known as Akiba, explodes with otaku culture and energy. Upon arrival, you’ll spot famous characters from various series on posters all over. Countless shops offer a wide variety of merchandise from keychains and figurines of celebrated characters to customized dioramas that go beyond imagination. Apart from the multi-floor Animate stores, you can also try out a few of the arcades in the area! Check out the street view for a quick look here:
After all the waking, take a break from the shopping and give the maid cafes a try! You can easily find these maids along the street in their iconic outfits handing out brochures about their stores. Just approach them and ask for directions! Remember to be courteous and always ask for permission before taking photos. Akihabara definitely needs an entire afternoon of exploration and, at night, the buildings light up and color the town!
Extra Tip: Apart from the maid cafes, there are plenty of restaurants and convenient street-food style options in the area so you can spend an entire day here without worrying about your meals.
Next up is Nakano Broadway, another place to buy all your essential otaku goods! This is basically a shopping center for all things related to anime, manga, and idols. You’ll find rows upon rows of stores selling a wide variety of merchandise all packed in one neat area. And after all your shopping, head over to the basement’s marketplace to re-energize with some snacks and delicacies.
Extra Tip: On the way to Nakano Broadway from Nakano station you can pass through Nakano Sunmall which is a covered shopping street with all kinds of stores and eating places, like izakaya, in the small alleyways.
Feel Like Tanjiro and Find Kibutsuji Muzan
In 2019, the hit sensation Demon Slayer featured locations all around Japan but one specific area in Tokyo stood out: Asakusa. Here, Tanjiro, first encountered the dazzling big city lights and the fiendish villain Kibutsuji Muzan. Although a bit more modern nowadays, Asakusa maintains some of the old school charm depicted in the series (minus the demons, of course).
Head over to the city and make your way through the famous Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, which houses a massive red lantern and leads you to the popular Sensoji Temple. The way to the temple is an experience in itself thanks to the variety of stores offering trinkets, refreshments, snacks (especially melon pan), and memorabilia. Afterward, immerse yourself in the history and culture of the beautifully designed temple.
Extra Tip: If you want a solo picture with the giant red lantern, go here later in the night so the crowds are much smaller.
Find Your Taki-kun or Mitsuha
In 2016, Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa, internationally known as Your Name, took the cinematic world by storm with its sweet but mysterious romance and mesmerizing hyper-realistic animation. Several scenes in the film depicted actual locations in Tokyo. Luckily, most of these places are accessible and easy-to-find for tourists.
Head over to the Suga Shrine in Yotsuya to hopefully meet your own Taki or Mitsuha. There, you can find the iconic staircase from the movie (and maybe even a romantic partner). These stairs are quite easy to spot on the way to the shrine. Don't forget to bring your ribbons! Pay the stairs a visit at sunset for bonus anime feels.
Extra Tip: If you want to see all the spots featured in the film, there are tours that will take you there!
Feel Like You're in a Ghibli Film
Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is known worldwide for fantastic animated productions such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and much more. If you’re a fan of their work, then head over to Inokashira Park in Mitaka and visit the Ghibli Museum to experience their cinematic magic in real life. Check out a quick virtual tour of their museum below (and you can find more in the same channel):
The entire compound displays many colorful works of the studio and the intricacies involved in the process of animation. Inside, you’ll find a plethora of exhibition rooms — some permanent while others annually change — and a variety of interactive areas showcasing iconic film settings, popular characters, and more! Apart from the impressive exhibits, there is a small theater on the ground floor which shows animated shorts from the studio, made exclusively for viewing in the museum.
Extra Tip: Make sure to buy tickets for the museum way ahead of your trip as slots per day are quite limited and tickets sell out fast!
Experience the Sakura Feels
Cherry blossoms, or sakura, typically appear and make some episodes of your favorite anime extra special. The atmosphere immediately changes once viewers see the iconic pink or white petals showering the main characters. Here are two recommended places where you can experience the magic of sakura in Tokyo.
First, head on over to Naka-meguro. This typically quiet residential area suddenly comes to life in spring. Walking paths sandwiching the Meguro River are lined with cherry trees on both sides whose branches touch and form a tunnel of blossoms. As the Cherry Blossom season arrives, the quaint district becomes a vibrant and lively destination.
Here, you can definitely feel like an anime character in a springtime episode. The falling cherry blossoms will color your every step, the calm river will bring you peace amidst the busy crowd, and the numerous stalls and stores will satisfy your cravings. Grab some food and drinks along your walk and pick a spot to stop and take it all in.
Extra Tip: Coffee fans can enjoy their favorite drinks from the world’s largest Starbucks in this area while enjoying the Sakura. But be sure to come early as this café’s popularity goes above and beyond in Spring.
Second, pay a visit to Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks. All year round this park is quite popular with locals and tourists thanks to the gorgeous landscape, tranquil feels, and natural beauty. In the springtime, the popularity explodes as people flock to see all the massive cherry trees blossom. And seeing all the trees blooming feels incredibly surreal. Time your visit right to see most of the trees simultaneously blooming and you’re sure to have a dream-like experience here.
Extra Tip: There’s a ton of space for visitors in the park and many people buy snacks beforehand to have a lovely picnic under all the sakura trees. Pass by the iconic Isetan department store and buy all kinds of treats and bento boxes before heading to the park! Also, dress for warmth as the open spaces tend to get quite windy!
That's it for now but there are still numerous places to visit in Japan to fulfill your anime dreams!