Nerding out in Akihabara!!

Johanna Jarvis, Class of ’27, is a Graphic Design major studying at Tamagawa University this Spring/Summer 2024.

As someone who has had their fair share of anime and manga, this blog is for my otakus out there. Fun little fact about my profile, you’ll see a character featured from Love is Hard for an Otaku anime (for those of you who haven’t caught that yet!). 

Starting off with a much-needed basic– the definition of an Otaku:

An Otaku: Borrowed from Japanese, otaku refers to a person who is obsessed with manga, anime, and other forms of Japanese or East Asian popular culture.

Though this term is often seen as derogatory, you could not wear this badge of honor more than in Akihabara (believe me). A little background for those who don’t know, middle school me was basically obsessed with watching random videos about anything anime or manga related– so of course I stumbled upon video after video featuring the Otaku-central and Electric town: Akihabara!

 Akihabara is known for its catering to the interests of anime lovers, manga readers, and gamers. This could be anything from the amount of maid cafes featured there, the massive gaming centers, or even the shrine known for blessing electronics! It’s known so much that it’s quite common for people to come here to buy their computers really cheap, along with other things like finding a Playstation 2, or another older console that’s hard to find where you live. I was absolutely STOKED to go there- with a formulated itinerary and all- ready to take on the area. Another cool thing is that with figures comes GACHAs (or Gachapons) which are basically blindbox gumball machines for figures! They even had one in the station, so I knew I was where I was supposed to be. (And make sure to try and visit on a Sunday- the streets are open specifically for pedestrians!! This is pretty common for the more popular parts of Tokyo!!)

My first order of business was my scavenger hunt for figures… I like to think every enjoyer has their own special collection of sorts, and mine’s figure collecting– but it’s reserved only for the lesser-known, kind of “niche” interests. This basically means I have to go out of my way to find merch a LOT of the time, sadly. So what other place than the anime central Akihabara to scope them out? I went to places such as Kotobukiya (known for their great quality figures), Mandarake (an awesome plaza of floors with discounted items!! I got a $5 manga from there I always wanted), Animate/Don Quijote (these are everywhere but hey- you never know), and Hobby-Off! An important tip n’ trick to mention is that, if you want to save money on merch: Book-off/Hobby-off IS YOUR PLACE. Because Tokyo is known for insane mass production of figures, whether it be from a claw machine or Gachapons, there are TONS of donated figures to these stores, so you will most likely be better off looking here for something you wanted from a game center rather than the center itself!

One-Coin Figure Score!!

Some extra pictures featuring some of my favorite powerful Pokemon I just HAD to geek out on- along with the game Gitadora which is similar to Guitar Hero, one of my favorite Wii Games!!

Plus, a special thing about Don Quijote in Akihabara is that there’s claw machines on the 6th and 7th floors I believe! They normally hand out a slip of paper giving you a free play (this is how they got me hooked unsurprisingly). 

My next order of business was scoping out claw machines for anything I would be interested in, and low and behold… Banana Cat spotted. I absolutely ADORE Banana Cat and whatever meme it’s in, so for it to become so popular here was a big surprise. Thanks to this machine I probably spent about $20 alone on trying to get one (which I eventually did with the help of my friends!).

Lastly, we visited the Kanda Shrine as one of our last stops. This shrine is known for blessings of prosperity and the blessing of electronics. This was the first shrine I went to that had a specific, decorated hand-washing station with a sign stating how to properly rinse your hands before entering. It was mesmerizing since it felt like every corner was oozing with detail within both their carvings and color choices. This is when I decided that for every shrine I visit, I’ll try my best to get their specific charm/Omamori. Here, I believe I got a Kanda-specific disaster protection charm that’s a cute fish!

Overall, this blog goes out to anyone who may be interested in anything from gaming, collecting, anime/manga, or other related things. Coming from someone who didn’t have many others to share these interests growing up, coming to Akihabara surely did help heal that inner child in me (minus that splurging cost ouch). See you next time!

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