JapanaTour: Otaku Tourist part one


JapanaTour: now running on Valve time. 

I'll admit, I'm nearing the end of places I can write about. Having only visited the country on holidays, my time there has been rather limited, so I figure it's high time I focus on some of the more specific places you might want to visit. I'll be talking about three particular stores/places in each of these articles, rather than locations like it my other articles, so I suppose you can consider this as an expansion pack of sorts. Expansion packs are cool. 

So, as you may know, the term 'otaku' isn't exclusive to anime fans. The places I talk about after the jump will cover many interests, so pay that some mind! Without further ado, I bring you Kotobukiya, the Jump Store and the almighty Pokémon Centre!

Kotobukiya. That green one.

It might seem a bit weird to start the ball rolling with a well known name like this, but there are some good reasons as to why I am. This particular store is hidden away in Akihabara, and if you aren't exploring every back alley (which I seriously urge you do), then it would be pretty easy to miss it. They sell a lot of miscellaneous merchandise, and you'll find most of it down on the bottom floor. Blind box figures, Kyubey pillows and the like can be found here. They also sell some of the more odd items, such as Railgun ties. I'd like to see someone wear one to work, that's for sure. 

Fun Fact Time!

Did you know that Kotobukiya originally existed as a single toy store, all the way back in 1947? Their venture into figurines came when they made their first original kit back in 1983, and the business took off in 1985 with the release of their first licensed kit; King Godzilla.

Of course, I wouldn't be talking about this place if that was all there was to it. If you head upstairs you will find several floors dedicated to figurines, be this statues or kits. They sell a huge number of them, but what makes it really interesting is that they have large display cabinets set up on these floors. They'll take figures that are for sale, as well as a few that I imagine aren't, and create little dioramas in some of them. Not all of the cabinets are like that admittedly, but we did get to see a fantastic pile of Misaka Mikoto stackable figures (like this, but hundreds of them in towers and piles). There was also a TV showing clips from a Godzilla film, so they really knew how to keep people in there! If you love mecha kits in particular, this store is certainly for you.

If your friend told you to JUMP, would you?

Our next stop is the Jump Shop, a chain of stores dedicated to selling the merchandise of series found in Weekly Shounen Jump. If you think that most of the goodies behind these doors is going to be Naruto, Bleach or One Piece related... you'd be right. Still, that doesn't mean there isn't enough representation for shows like Gintama and Katekyo Hitman Reborn, just be prepared to sift through a lot of goodies! Still, it's an awesome place to visit. The door has manga displayed around it for crying out loud!

Fun fact time!

Did you know that while manga frequently comes and goes from Weekly Shonen Jump, there has been a series running since 1976? It's called Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo, or Kochikame for short! If you're interested, you'll have to hunt around for all 176 volumes!

One of the great things about the different Jump Shops is that they are packed with some fantastic, store-specific displays. I took a picture of this one outside the store in Odaiba, but it only really serves as a small glimpse into what else they had to show. They came in all sorts of forms, including a giant Luffy statue stood beside one of the walls. You should check this post that Brad made a few years back, so you'll really get an idea of what these places can be like. 

The biggest draw is probably the fact that there is a lot of merchandise that can only be found in these shops, so you won't often see them cropping up in Akihabara unless someone is selling them on. You can also get some interesting anime branded consumables, such as Naruto ramen or One Piece Franky cola. You can find one of these stores in the very cool Tokyo Dome City, or head to Yokohama to find the Landmark Mall, which houses not only another Jump Shop, but one of these stores also: 

I hear if you admire Charmander, Gary will show up and take Piplup.

Whether you are a fellow Pokémaniac or just a curious observer, this place is amazing. It's the store we all wanted as kids when our Pokémon Red and Blue cartridges were firmly seated in our Game Boy Pockets. Everywhere you look, there is something weird and wonderful with Pokémon slapped all over it. Kids run around the store with baskets full of anything and everything they could reach, and believe me, this stuff isn't cheap. From food to plush toys, to figurines and toasters, there was very little that the kids weren't interested in. I'm not sure if it's a tradition, like a rite of passage, but their parents must have been loaded. Either that or they had run off when the kid wasn't looking. 

Fun fact time!

Did you know that behind the trio of Pokémon up there, you can find Satoshi Tajiri's signature? Seems he did that when the store first opened, and there are a few other signatures alongside it from top dogs in the Pokémon business. 

When you walk in, you'll notice that they are indeed playing the Pokécenter theme from the games. It makes it feel that much more awesome, but you can't help but feel a little sorry for the employees that have to deal with screaming children, looping music and tourists all day. Be prepared to lose your money though, as this shop definitely has something that lures you into buying unnecessary things. For example, in my first trip to the store, I ended up buying some Japanese Pokémon trading cards. I don't play the game and I can't read Japanese. I have no idea why I bought them, but I sure as hell bought more when I went back. On second thought, perhaps it's a good idea to stay away...

That brings us to a close, so I hope you enjoyed this look into ways of losing all of your money. If you want to write about your own experiences, have any further questions or even have some places to recommend, leave them in the comments below! 

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Chris Walden
Chris WaldenContributor   gamer profile

Some say that he can breathe Some say that he can jump over a All we know is that he's Brittanian, and that we are all He's on Twitter though: more + disclosures



Filed under... #Japanator Original #JapanaTour #otaku culture #top stories #Travel guide



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