The rising popularity of Asian culture is impossible to ignore. Whether it is the cuisine or the media, you don’t just indulge, you invest. The internet generation, especially makes for a large chunk of anime enthusiasts and more often than not, Japan is on the top of their travel list. The nation too, is aware of this and encourages the enthusiasm with various anime themed attractions. Here is our list of 7 places in Japan that celebrate popular anime and manga. If you spend your nights comfortable in bed, eating ramen and watching anime, this list is for you.
Pokemon Center DX Tokyo
If you’re a 90s kid, you probably remember lazing in front of a television on a Sunday afternoon, watching Pokemon as you stuffed endless Parle-G biscuits down your throat. What was once considered a cartoon for kids, is now a global phenomenon turning everyone into a fan. Pokemon Center DX Tokyo has to be on every fan’s bucket list if they want to enliven their experience with the popular characters. The center has a variety of attractions including screens on a wall showcasing scenes from various games released, an unimaginable collection of Pikachu cards and an even more startling exhibition of merchandise. Whether you wish to purchase clothing, toys or even stationery, there is a shelf for you here. There is also an area dedicated to those who wish to try out the games and murals to take pictures. The most entertaining part of the center, however, is the Pokemon themed cafe where even the food is based on -you guessed it- Pokemon. If you’re in luck, a Pikachu mascot may come by to greet you.
If it’s your birthday month, flash your passport and get 3 presents free!
Suginami Animation Museum, Suginami
While modern anime is clearly a winner, you might wonder where it all began. The Suginami Animation Museum solves the mystery with depictions of the history of Japanese animation and its evolution to its modern form. Spanning over three floors, the place is an educational paradise for all those invested in Otaku culture. Other than the permanent displays, the museum also hosts various temporary exhibitions presenting the work of major animators. Interactive services also make the experience memorable, with light tables where you can practise your drawing skills. In addition to all this, the museum also boasts an impressive Manga and Anime library and a theatre projecting anime.
Entry is free for all but you might consider arranging an interpreter as most guides speak in Japanese.
Tokyo character street, Tokyo station
If you are looking to take back a souvenir of your favourite anime series - or to gift to a fellow geek- make your way to the Tokyo character street. With a varied range of options of 26 different character stores, the market will leave you spoilt for choices. Whether you’re a fan of Hello Kitty, Ghibli, Doraemon, Shin Chan or even Miffy Muff, you will find a store to your satisfaction here. The street is a basement market under the Yaesu North exit of Tokyo station. You might even find some snacks to munch on, as you look for your favourite character shop.
The market is in business from 10 am to 8:30 pm
Kyoto International Manga Museum
For those absorbed in the Otaku culture, anime-binges have inevitably led to introduction of manga. If you have been in the game long enough, your love for manga is no less than that for anime. The Kyoto International Manga Museum is a must visit for those who are into manga. Walls of three floors and a basement completely lined with shelves, this museum holds an awe-inducing collection of around 300,000 manga. There are designated sections for foreign and translated manga and also features of International manga artists. In addition to this, temporary exhibitions are also often held exposing work of artists. On some occasions, you might even encounter a Kamishibai performer, who illustrates scenes out of a paper scroll.
Feel free to visit their cafe for a snack. The museum runs from 10 am to 6:00 pm, last admission being at 5:30 pm.
Classically known for the sweet deals that one could get on electronics, the Akihabara neighbourhood in Tokyo has in the more recent years become the hub of Otaku culture. While large electronics stores still exist large and proud, anime and manga related establishments have made space in the area and are now slowly dominating the area. Also known as Akiba, the neighbourhood has fascinating concepts in addition to all the expected stores.
While you might have gone to a cyber cafes as a child to surf the internet or even complete a project, you must have never seen access to manga on a computer. Manga cafes in Akihabara let a person read manga along with surfing the web. If that wasn't convincing enough, maid cafes in the area feature servers clad in maid costumes or even anime characters’ drapes. When you're here, check out the Gundam cafe based on the science fiction media franchise.
Asagaya Anime Street, Suginami
While Akihabara neighbourhood is on every listicle for anime lovers, there are other areas, less explored, that bring to you the root of the conception and production of anime. Asagaya Anime Street in Suginami is one such area. Opened in 2014, literally beneath a set of train tracks, the street tries to build bridges between the creators and fans of anime. Along with a gamut of stores, studios and even cafes, this less-travelled street is also the home to a lot of popular anime.
If you wish to visit this street, the Shirobaco cafe by Studio Satelight is a go-to for a fun culinary-cum-anime adventure. A large screen in the cafe displays scenes of early production of anime (scenes that are shown to voice actors). If you order 1000 yen worth of food, you will also receive a copy of a key animation frame. Events are also hosted where voice actors perform scenes in the cafe.
For those who are sick of shopping for tidbids and soft toys, Nakano Broadway presents their stores that sell an intense collection of anime-related goods. Established in 1966, the shopping complex contains over a dozen Mandarake stores that are popularly known for their manga and anime products. Whether you want a magazine, manga, figurines, video games, consoles or even just key-chains. You name it, they got it and a hundred more. Anime aficionados can even come across rare collectors’ items here. While the building is four-storeyed, the manga and anime genre section is the entirety of the second and third floor.
The rest of the floors in the complex include stores that sell clothes, second hand goods, shoes, produce and grocery. You may even come across a sprinkle of eateries. If hunting for the perfect souvenir has tired you, refresh yourself with the behemoth that is the eight layer soft serve cone available at Daily Chiko.
How to get there: You can get non-stop flights from New Delhi or Mumbai to Tokyo or a on-stop flight from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata.