Let me guess:
You’re in Tokyo and you want to go on an anime tour.
Well, I got you.
The best part?
Instead of having to pay for an expensive anime tour, this article will keep your cash in your coffers.
This tour is also fantastic if you’re just in town as a one day stopover or on a business trip in Japan and you don’t have much time.
Note: There aren’t any anime attractions close to Narita or Haneda airport so you’ll need to go to central Tokyo.
Before your start…
We put together a guide with everything that you need to know about anime travel in Japan. Make sure to give it a read so you can take advantage of your time in Japan.
I also added what you can find in each place so you can travel around freely with a loose itinerary for your own anime day tour.
Some thought’s been put into it so that even with the flexibility, everything is pretty accessible and on a good route so you can be sure you won’t be on a wild goose chase back and forth around Tokyo and you won’t be wasting time on transit.
What will my day look like?
Here’s a schedule at a glance – I’ll go in more detail about each location as we go along.
- The stairs from Your name.
- Ikebukuro (Otome road, Durarara’s real-life locations, Evangelion store)
- Akihabara (Anime store central, Steins;Gate and Love Live locations)
- Nakano Broadway (Lots of niche anime stores)
If you’re not all that interested in one of the locations or the show it might be related to, don’t worry, along the way I’ll show you good alternatives you can check out on a convenient route so you can swap out places as you’d like.
Also if your day starts in the PMs, you can always skip or just get a short taste of the locations that don’t interest you as much.
Otherwise, this guide has a fairly packed schedule for a single day, and each location has a Mipon seal of approval, so make sure you wake up early!
Now let’s get this train rolling.
Real-life Stairs from Your Name
Suggested time: 9 am to 10 pm
Closest station: Yotsuya Station (JR pass is valid)
What better way to start things off than the king of anime sightseeing that took up the throne fairly recently, the stairs from Your Name!
The stairs can be found a few minutes from Yotsuya station.
This is the station Taki gets off at, and the route from the station to Suga Shrine’s stairs is the same route that Taki ran through to find Mitsuha.
You can even access this place in the early hours of the morning if you tend to do your travelling that way.
Visit the shrine and stairs for a nice calm start to your day trip at a pretty major location.
For more info, check out this article about the stairs and other locations from the movie nearby:
Go back to Yotsuya Station and take the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line (Platform 1). Get off at Shinjuku Sanchome Station and then take the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line to Ikebukuro . It’s only 18 minutes by train and 200 yen per ticket.
Suggested time: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Closest station: Ikebukuro Station
Ikebukuro is a district in Tokyo known to have lots of anime presence. After Akihabara, it’s one of the big “anime towns” of Japan.
Here you’ll find everything from anime stores to cosplay events to real-life anime locations. You’ll likely see anime ads right off the bat throughout Ikebukuro station.
That said, it can actually be pretty hard to find all the anime related places in Ikebukuro if it’s your first time there, so here’s a rundown.
- Evangelion Store: Just next to the station in P’Parco, you’ll find the only Evangelion Store in Tokyo. More info here.
- OIOI – Aka 0101 or Ikebukuro Marui, it’s a regular looking department store but with an anime floor. It has some good stores (an alternative for guys who aren’t as into Otome Road’s offerings) and great exhibitions of anime and game series art that rotate out regularly. (Opposite side of Ikebukuro station’s tracks from the others on this list. Take the tunnel beside Eva Store’s building to get to the other side.)
- Ikebukuro Sunshine Dori: A road on the way from the station to the next few locations that has multiple big arcades and anime cafés. Also an Animate store.
- Otome Road: A few streets and a park that is home to a relatively small but good selection of anime stores. Cosplay events are held here fairly often. Go here to find out more about Otome Road and see if an event is happening while you’re in town.
- Mega Pokémon Center: Not that much bigger than other Pokémon Centers but it has statues of mega evolved pokémon!
- Sunshine City Event Stage: Sunshine City is the name of the mall the Mega Pokémon Center is in. Just outside the center is an event stage where famous idols and singers will sometimes do mini promotional concerts, all for free! Go on a weekend early afternoon, your chances of finding a show just about to start on are actually pretty high.
- Durarara’s real-life locations: The story of Durarara!! takes place all throughout Ikebukuro!! A walk through this district, going to the places mentioned here should take you around the major parts of Ikebukuro and its streets where many scenes took place.
And that’s it for Ikebukuro!
Quite a bit here to pick and choose from- or just do all of them, but you’d better hustle.
The list above is in order, in a convenient linear route from what’s nearest Ikebukuro station and outward, so fire up Google Maps, follow that order and you’ll be saving some precious time.
There’s restaurants everywhere here, so I recommend grabbing lunch before going to our next location.
Go back to Ikebukuro Station, take the Yamanote Line (Platform 7) to Akihabara Station. It’s only 20 minutes by train and 200 yen per ticket. If you have a JR Pass, you don’t have to pay anything.
Suggested time: 1pm to 6pm
Closest station: Akihabara JR Station, Akihabara Tokyo Station or Iwamotocho Toei Station.
Visit Akihabara, the famous otaku district with cool stuff new and old, you know the one. Tons to see here, with really good selection.
My recommendations are:
Lashinbang: One of the largest figure selections in Akiba, every floor of the building is worth checking out, but the first floor is most important if you don’t have much time. High priority.
Radio Kaikan: The real building the time machine is lodged into in Steins;Gate. Has an Amiami store, among others. Also has a Yellow Submarine store that is the best and cheapest place to buy new release figures. Second floor store with the display cases is a tourist trap. Mid-high priority. Find out more here
Mandarake: Pre-owned heaven, has everything. High priority.
Jungle: Smaller pre-owned heaven. Mid priority.Liberty: Pre-owned hell. Low quality/condition standards for what they buy off customers, but has rarities. Best gatcha/capsule figure selection in Akiba. Skip the first floor, everything is overpriced. Also has a Mario Kart Arcade machine, wahoa! Low priority.
Surugaya: Multiple locations in Akihabara, go to all if you can. Has crazy funky deals on pre-owned figures in their “junk” section. (there’s usually nothing actually wrong with them) Best for deals is the one nearest the station and the big one nearest Mandarake. High priority.
You can find two real-life maid cafés from anime in Akiba:
The one Feyris NyanNyan works at in Steins;Gate (Café Mailish) and the one Kotori works at in Love Live (Cure Maid Café).
If you can’t stomach the bubblegum cuteness, stomach some mecha themed food at Gundam Café. Maids? Uh-uh. Thrusters? Minovsky particles? Space elevators? In my food? Oh yeaaaah.
Also, Akihabara being as important to anime as it is, it has its share of famous real-life anime locations! You can find Radio Kaikan from Steins;Gate like I mentioned earlier, and yet another Love Live location. (Hint: zoom zoom!)
For more info, they’re number 2 and 7 on this list of best real-life anime locations in Tokyo.
There’s a lot to see and do in Akihabara, so if you’ve really only got a day, I’d recommend spending a good amount of time here.
Choose your fate
Have you been thinking about your future?
Good, because this is where the timeline splits.
After visiting Akihabara, you visit either the Pokemon Café or Nakano Broadway.
Drop by the Pokémon Café nearby at Tokyo Station for a fun, memorable atmosphere, well-crafted cute entrees, snacks and desserts all based on Pokémon (You might need to make an advance reservation though).
There’s a Pokémon Center here too in case you didn’t go to Ikebukuro’s.
At Tokyo Station, a major area of Tokyo with skyscrapers and the Imperial Palace and gardens in case you want to see some regular places too. (Hmm could the Budokan in the palace gardens be considered a K-on location?)
You can find more info on the café here. If that’s not your thing, visit a maid café while you’re in Akiba!
Is Akiba not enough? Visit Nakano Broadway,
Akihabara’s weird ragamuffin brother and finish off your day with a trip to an independently run anime bar.
You can explore many stores that sell old and rare items in a huge, almost grungy feeling building with lots of weird stores.
It’s a less talked about place but totally worth visiting as a different side to anime in Tokyo. Just outside Nakano Broadway is an anisong DJ bar called Raizeen, and there’s a comic book bar nearby too. You can also find a lot of good small restaurants here.
Now honestly, both Akihabara and Nakano Broadway could easily be full day locations each, especially if collecting is your thing. That said, you probably don’t need to visit both- or at least not for so long.
If you consider anime to be a big part of your trip out to Japan, I’d say choose Akihabara as a full day affair and pay Nakano Broadway a shorter visit as a stop on your day tour. Otherwise, pick whichever you like better.
What day of the week is best for this?
If you’re ok with larger crowds, I’d generally recommend Sunday. Akihabara closes its main road for pedestrians to walk around freely midday, you’re more likely to run into special events, and the vibe is generally more lively.
The downside with Sunday is that some stores close a bit earlier (7pm or 8pm).
Before I send you on your way
I’d say the locations in this day tour are ones that can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone in that you’ll enjoy some of the broader things, plus the things that are your specific niche.
Great for bringing friends along if you want something everyone will like.
With both Akihabara and Nakano Broadway they cater to pretty much any kind of anime fan, and along the way you’ll even find some real-life locations from anime right around the big attractions.
You’ll get a good look at anime culture in Japan and where local anime fans go.
Follow this guide and I think you’ll find a lot of things in your wheelhouse. Have fun!
Check out other articles on Mipon for info on many more real-life locations featured in anime that you can visit on your trip, and events that are happening while you’re there!