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Tokyo Akihabara Tour: Anime & Manga

Discover the anime and manga culture in electric Akihabara with an Otaku expert
From US$283 privately
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Tour Details
Duration
3 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
Akihabara
Photos & Highlights
  • Learn about the role subcultures play in Japanese popular culture
  • Led by an expert in Japanese pop culture
Select a date
Tour Description
On this 3-hour Akihabara Tour, you will explore Tokyo's hub for otaku, providing an intimate look at one of Japan’s most misunderstood subcultures. Otaku is a term for devoted enthusiasts, most often of manga (comic books), anime (cartoons), and video games: cultural products that are now seen as an inescapable part of life in contemporary Japan. Rather than a museum of any kind, Akihabara is a living marketplace, grouping stores of all types that cater to the fandom surrounding manga and anime. As you visit this unique shopping district, you'll peel back the layers of contemporary Japanese culture, developing a richer understanding of the origins of otaku and placing the phenomenon in the greater context of Japanese society.

"A fascinating insight into a culture we knew little about beforehand”.

Akihabara Tour - A Look at Electric Town

Your walk in the Akihabara neighborhood begins with a history of the area. Today, Akihabara is celebrated for its arcades, female cosplayers, and anime and manga-related goods. It was a different story after WW2 when the neighborhood was the place to go for electrical appliances, particularly radios. Small retailers crammed in under the railway lines to sell their products, often at cut-rate prices on the black market. You’ll see some of these remaining vendors, selling every type of electronic gadget imaginable, as well as spare parts and products that will take you back in time. It is only since the '90s that the area has become renowned for anime and manga. Diving off into these lesser-known parts will give you an insight into the old Akihabara: you’ll be able to understand why it was given the nickname ‘Electric Town.’

From Trains to Dolls to Games

Moving on, your expert will discuss the basic principles behind subcultures in Japan and their relation to consumerism. Otaku culture still maintains an image as a youth culture, yet the generation of Japanese people born in the late 1950s and early 1960s are, in fact, the main consumers. It's no longer just youth who are buying these items, a fact that exemplifies the transnational status of this particular fandom. There is much more to otaku than just anime and manga, which your guide will help to convey. You will see an array of collections, each with a particular subset of fandom: dolls, board games, trains, Pokémon cards, and even military otaku. You may also discuss the creative nature behind this fandom: people do not wish purely to consume but also to create and give back to the otaku world.


The sights and sounds of Akihabara provide ample material for an anthropological journey into contemporary Japanese culture. You will continue to discuss the transformation of the area into Tokyo’s central hub for otaku as your guide helps you weave through the toy town’s busy streets. You’ll stop in some shops and malls, perhaps trying your hand at the current trend in Japanese games in an arcade or taking a picture in the unique Japanese purikura (photo booths). 

From Pray to Play

In contrast to the overriding electrical theme of the area, your tour may stop at a Kanda shrine. This religious site is over 1300 years old and is neatly tucked into the back streets of the area. You’ll see the impact that the area is having as your guide points out the various ways in which anime culture is invading the shrine. The shrine offers a unique stop on your tour as we continue to see how tradition plays into popular culture in Tokyo.

Depending on your group’s interests, you might also dive into one of the most striking aspects of otaku culture—cosplay, or costume play—by visiting a theme café. These cafes, which feature waitresses dressed in costume, draw on fantasy characters and interactions drawn from manga, anime, and computer games popular in Akihabara. During our time in the café, we will experience the rituals and customs of these establishments. 

Take Aways

At the end of our dive into the streets of Akihabara, we’ll come away with a deeper knowledge of the roots of otaku culture and how it applies to so much more than just anime and manga. For a broader look at style and aesthetics in Tokyo, try our Tokyo Architecture Tour. For a different look at Japanese culture, see our Asakusa Tour.

FAQ

Is this walk appropriate for teens or younger?
This tour is suitable and will be adapted by the expert for older teens, generally opting out of certain theme cafes and adult-themed shops. For children under 13, we have designed a special walk that is appropriate for younger audiences, Tokyo for Kids.

Is this tour suitable for visitors with mobility issues?
This tour is walking intensive and visitors with mobility issues should reach out to us to ensure we can alter the tour to accommodate their level of mobility.

Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan?
Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
Where You'll Start
86 Reviews (4.59)

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Manami gave us so much insight about this fascinating part of Japanese culture that I don’t think we could have gotten otherwise. She made adjustments based on our kids’ interests and made it so much fun for the entire family. I highly recommend this tour!
Knowledgeable and fun to be with.
Fascinating history lesson and tour of a unique part of modern Japanese culture.