I have been to Japan a few times now and there is so much I know now that I wish I knew before my first visit. Below are a list of ten shops that you can find in multiple locations that will drain your wallets and make your nerdy hearts sore. (Due to the multiple location limit I have left out Super Potato, The Evangelion Store and Gundam World – though they will pop up on another list.)
In my 10 shops that all self-respecting nerds visiting Japan need to go to Village Vanguard seems like a good place to start. This place is weird, the shop sells such a bizarre selection of products it really would be hard to list them all but in the many that we visited you would always find Pokemon, Kirby, Gudetama, Disney (especially Monster Inc and Stitch), a large selection of bags, international candy and Japanese Music. Think a cutesy Hot Topic but with fewer clothes and more random stuff.
I am going to probably say this on more than one occasion here but if you see something you want, purchase it right away, it may be your only chance to get it. You will quickly discover that a lot of these stores have very different stock to the next. So, if you really want something then get it. Also, Village Vanguard has really tiny aisle’s so do not wear a back pack when going through here.
If you are into Mecha and Monsters this place is perfect for you. Mandarake usually has a great variety of Action Figures, models and collectibles on display. If you are looking an original Transformer, A Megazord – any of them or maybe you want something more exotic like a statue of Ewan Mcgregor from the Phantom Menace, well Mandarke would stock those sorts of goodies.
They are the largest vendors of used anime and manga-related products. The store stocks collectibles, VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, used manga, toys, and large numbers of fan-drawn dōjinshi. This store is great for me because a lot of the series that I am fan of are well older series so here is where I can grab some great classic goodies.
Now for the big boys:
Animate is the largest retailer of anime, Video games and manga in Japan. This place is an Otaku’s wet dream they really do stock everything under the sun, when it comes to anime that is. You are going to have to look through everything though as they tend to be vaguely organised. Some are only one single store others take up entire buildings, in the case of the latter each floor has a theme and is marked in English. When you go to Tokyo, they even have specialist stores that deal with specific genera’s or genders. Watch your spending here as this is where i racked up a huge bill…
Do not let the name full you, this place will spark joy for the old and young alike. Each store has a massive variety of merchandise, based on a lot of popular franchises such as Pokemon, Detective Conan, Card Captors, Sailor Moon, Star Wars, Beyblade (yes that is still a thing), Marvel and Hello Kitty to name a few. It is not just toy’s they also have a lot of exclusive T shirts and stationary so take your time and explore to your hearts content.
What kind of Nerd list on Japanese shops would be complete without a mention of the Pokemon Centre?
I have talked about this place before and they are really worth a visit. Do your research before you go because a lot of the Pokemon Centres tend to have specific regional items. For instance, the Kyoto stores sell a lot of Pickahu’s in traditional Japanese clothing, while Tokyo Sky Tree sells Sky Tree themed goods.
If you want more information on Pokemon Centres then check out my article here.
I am not a fan of Hello Kitty but I will say this, even I was drawn into this shop… yes, it is definitely not my style but if you are in Japan then it really is worth checking out.
The first time I came to Japan I did not even know this place existed, oh how sad I was to have missed it.
If you are a fan of Dragon Ball, Naruto, My Hero Academia, Bleach, One Piece, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Slam Dunk and Yu-Gi-Oh, this will be the shop for you. The stores are filled to the brim with goodies from all these series and more, what makes it better is they are all exclusives and not to expensive so really worth checking out. Plus, the stores tend to have a lot of random Standees and Statues you can get your photo with.
If you are not a fan of Studio Ghibli then please leave this site now. Ok maybe I am being a little mean here but these stores are adorable. They somehow give off this tranquil homely feel and are just delightful to visit. If you are a fan of Totoro, Princess Mononoke, The Wind Rises and any of their other classics then this is somewhere you need to track down.
9. Ultraman World
Ultraman World really surprised me, I knew Ultraman was popular just not popular enough that he would have his own stores. Inside you can buy the obvious things like toys and stationary but for the more refined gentleman you can get shirts, ties, shoes and aftershave. Even if you know very little about Ultraman i think you will enjoy it.
Finally there is Tower Records Cafe. On a regular basis these cafes switch things up and take on a theme, last it was Card Captors and this winter it was Sword Art Online. They all have special unique stock, for instance I have merchandise which shows the cast members from Sword Art Online in Tower Records Uniforms. As it is a cafe you will also be able to treat yourselves to some delicious snacks. So these cafe’s will be the perfect way for you to finish off a hard day of shopping.