5 things to try in Akihabara, Tokyo

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Akihabara Top 5

Are you into anime, manga, gaming, J-Pop or Japanese pop-culture in general? Want to have memories of unique Japanese experiences? Akihabara has it all and is a must-see while in Tokyo!

Akihabara has a lot to offer but depending on your interests, you may only need to plan for half a day’s visit while others will definitely want to plan for at least one full day. Joe and I stayed in Akihabara (APA Akihabara Dekigaiguchi) but despite exploring the streets daily we still didn’t have enough time to see everything this amazing neighborhood has to offer.

Here are my top 5 activities to try while visiting Akihabara, Tokyo.

One | Themed cafes

A themed cafe is my first recommendation because many themes are still unique to Japan (cat cafes have come to Seattle!). Joe and I tried the maid cafe @home cafe and highly recommend it!

While I wanted to go because I love the anime Kaichou wa Maid-sama, all the Lonely Planet Japan travel books recommended this cafe as well. Read about my first time visiting a maid cafe while traveling alone – while in that blog post I mention it was a little awkward since my waitress was reading from a piece of paper, the last time I went it was great! Multiple waitresses or “maids” stopped by to say hello and spoke enough English to carry friendly, yet brief, conversations so we had a great time. Butler cafes exist too if that’s more your style!

Our drinks and meals at the maid cafe
Our drinks and meals at the maid cafe @home cafe were so cute!

Most importantly I want to highlight that this is not a sexual or flirtatious situation so please treat everyone respectfully. Cafe customers include children, elderly ladies, couples, and groups of friends (and yes lots of dudes). 

Me posing with a maid on the instax souvenir photo

No taking pictures of the maids!!! You will get to take a picture with a maid though, you just have to wait for your name to be called on stage for an instant photo that serves as a cute souvenir!

Other themed cafes include J-Pop cafes like the AKB48 Cafe, cat cafes, owl cafes, and monster cafes! Many animal cafes have owls outside that you can pet if you don’t want to spend the money.

Two | Gachapon

Gachapon are coin machines with various items inside (similar to quarter machines in the U.S.). The price of one gachapon ranges from 100 Yen to 500 Yen (approx. < $1-$5 USD) and it’s easy to go crazy (they make good souvenirs). You can find them across Japan but there is a huge variety concentrated in Akihabara, even designated stores like the one below.

Gachapon store front with all the machines lined up together. Center banner text reads "Gachapon"
Gachapon store front with all the machines lined up together. Center banner text reads “Gachapon.”

Joe and I got everything – a little hat for our cats that looks like a cherry, little squished up shiba inu dog phone charms, sushi cats keychains, leaning cat mini figurines, and more!

Three | Figurine & knick-knack shopping

Highly recommend carving out time to shop, or at least window shop, since there are plenty of stores to pick from. Mandrake Complex and Surugaya Specialty Store (there are several in Akihabara) are great places to start, and very close to each other, for a huge variety of merchandise. Many figurine shops even sell quality, used figurines if you’re trying to stay on a budget.


The “knick-knacks” Joe and I purchased consisted of figurines from manga/anime series Sailor Moon, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z (definitely the most prevalent options) but there was plenty of other manga/anime (and some non-anime) knick-knacks to see. Unfortunately we forgot to visit the hyped up Super Potato store; Google describes it as a “dynamic store specializing in vintage video games, consoles, collectibles & candy.”

Four | Purikura photobooths

purikuraA quick Google search describes purikura as “a popular activity among Japanese school children and young adults, mainly girls, young women and young couples. Purikura booths let you take digital pictures with your friends which you can then decorate with the touch-screen and stylus.”

Joe and I visited the purikura booths on the very bottom floor of the Taito Game Station but there are booths throughout Japan. Watch the video below if you want to look like a pro when you walk up to a booth.

Five | Gaming arcades

Vist the Taito Station or all four of the SEGA game buildings located around Akihabara. Gaming arcades can get pricey quick so Joe and I walked around first to take everything in and only stopped to play at games we couldn’t play at home. We were mainly there to check out the Purikura though since we were on a budget.


Honorable mentions

Honorable mentions go to Lawsons and Family Mart for their delicious life-sustaining beef croquettes that I miss every day. ❤

Ok more seriously the last honorable mention goes to Kanda Shrine in Akihabara; while I’ve never been able to make it over there, it’s known as a super nerdy shrine and must-see while in Akihabara. Also to the KFC in the area that I was dying to try ❤ Here’s a video of a dating simulator that involves the colonel himself! (not kidding).

That’s it! I hope this list helps you narrow down your choices when you go visit this wonderful place. Eat a beef croquette for me! #afkadventures

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