Akihabara – An Otaku Pilgrimage to Japan

Looking for group accommodation in Tokyo? If you love videogames, electronics, mange and anime, a trip to Akihabara can be eye opening.

For those who geek out on anime, manga and everything Japanese, here’s the dream trip of a lifetime: Tokyo. Group accommodation in one of the excellent hostels, as well as flights and living expenses are all far more affordable these days, unlike in the past when it was one of the most expensive places in the world.

If you’re travelling with a group you’ll find it much easier to stay disoriented in this frenetic city. It’s busy, bustling and once you’re in the middle of the crowds, you may find all your college level Japanese flying out the window. Travelling with safety in numbers also makes it far more enjoyable and less intimidating.

So, if you’re what’s know as an ‘otaku’ (a Japanese manga and anime aficionado), where should you go, and what should you do once you’re there? Here are a few ideas.

First Things First

There is a whole range of options for places to stay while visiting the Land of the Rising Sun on a budget, including capsule hotels and the worst-case scenario of spending your nights in a Manga Kissa (a manga café)! But there are more practical options for group accommodation in the centre Of Tokyo. A youth hostel offers security and comfort, and this kind of economical group accommodation has many other advantages as well.
Unlike a capsule hotel or a manga kissa, a hostel will allow you and your group to stay together, eat together and socialise together. That makes it easier to plan itineraries, make arrangements and maybe even meet other like-minded travellers.

Time for Fun – Akihabara

Two stations north of the Tokyo main station lies the great centre that is the be-all and end-all of anime and manga fans worldwide: Akihabara. The heart of otaku culture, it’s a place where you’ll find many electronic shops, stores devoted to anime, manga, retro video games, action figures, cards and cosplay and, of course, the maid cafes. Chuo Dori, the main street that goes throughout the district, is closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday afternoons, making it perfect for walking.

Where to Go

For electronics, the places to go are Yodobashi (for cameras), Akky, Yamada Denki, and Sofmap. Tokyo Anime Center, at the fourth floor of Akihabara Crossfield, stages anime exhibitions and events, as well as selling toys, stationery and other anime-related goods.
Mandarake calls itself the “largest manga and anime shop in the world”, and is a good place to find rare and collectible manga, figurines, dolls, posters, CDs, toys and other types of pre-owned manga related goods. Radio Kaikan houses more than 30 stores selling electronics and anime-related items – some of its most famous stores are K-Books, Kaiyodo and Volks.

For video games, consoles, and retro systems, the place to go is Super Potato, while Don Quijote is a discount store chain that sells everything from groceries to fashion and electronics. Its 5th floor houses the @Home Café, a ‘maid café’ that is lots of fun to visit – song and dance requests are easier here, as they have English speaking maids. You also won’t want to miss the Gundam Café, themed after Mobile Suit Gundam, which serves dishes based on the series. It also has a novelty shop for souvenirs.

Of course, Akihabara isn’t the only place to go for otakus, and with excellent group accommodation in the middle Tokyo, you’ll have access to the Ghibli Museum, J-World Tokyo, the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (Doraemon), the Pokemon Center and more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Spencer works for Hostelling International. Offering more than 4000 hostels worldwide, their website dedicated to groups features 250 hostels specifically suitable for school trips, corporate team building trips and families. For the best group accommodation, join our community and say hi to the world. HI is the only global network of Youth Hostel Associations and a non-profit membership organisation with over 100 years of experience.

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