THIS SITE IS FOR PEOPLE LOOKING FOR FIGURES, FIGURINES AND OTHER CHARACTER RELATED STUFF IN AKIHABARA. It is also for people who enjoy playing games -- board games, roleplaying games, strategy games, whatever. With its Shinto tradition of veneration for the doll and the simulation of the world, Japan is packed full of shops selling figures and figurines and stuff. There are plenty of these kinds of things to be found here, whole store after store and floor after floor of Gundam, Yoda, and Batman. On another note: are you looking for war board games in Japan? According to BoardGameGeek.Com, Japan has the the second most prolific wargaming hobby (second to the US). You can find many of these in Akihabara at places such as Yellow Submarine, which maintains three outlets within walking distance of Akihabara Station. Many of these games are rarer than the proverbial hen's teeth outside of Japan. Some of the games you might expect to find in Akihabara include Minsk '41 (released in Japan in the 1980s and recently reprinted by Command Magazine Japan #57), Red Sun Black Cross (very rare alternate reality wargame where the Japanese are allied with the US against Germany), Pacific Fleet (said to be the best Second World War Pacific war game ever made), Seelow and Kustrin (designed by Masahiro Yamazaki), Stalingrad Pocket (another Yamazaki classic), Sengoku Daimyo... the list goes on, and on. Again, I have to repeat, Yellow Submarine is the place to go to start looking for war games such as these. You can read all about Yellow Submarine lower in this article. But if you are looking for somewhere to slug it out with someone in a round of The Lord of the Rings, Games Workshop might be your best bet. Once again, I will explain all about Games Workshop, later in this article.
But first, let's take a look at this video clip which was filmed in the streets of Akihabara (and other parts of Tokyo) in late 2007, and which recently surfaced on YouTube. (If you fast-forward to the 4:07 minute mark, you can see a micro-interview with me! Hence my interest in the program...) The idea was evidently this: a film crew would hit Akihabara (or Omotesando, or other happening places around town) and ambush any foreigners they could find to ask what they liked about Japan, vox pop style, with a particular focus on clothing and figures and figurines and pop culture and shit. That is the way it was supposed to appear to viewers, the random opinions of foreigners stopped by the crew on the street, with the ever assertive hostess asking visitors to open their bags to show off their gear, their favorite icons and accessories, and say something funny in Japanese. It was supposed to be a vox pop, but in reality it was anything but random. At the beginning of the segment you will see the title in Japanese: "Nihongo no haneseru gaikokujin 600 nin ijou ni kikimashita... koko ga sukii da yo Nihonhen" ("We asked at least 600 Japanese-speaking foreigners... what they liked about Japan"). But as anyone who knows Akihabara (or Omotsando, for that matter) is aware, most of the foreigners milling through the place are tourists, and their Japanese language skills are next to nil. The only way you could ensure finding 600-plus Japanese-competent foreigners in Akihabara or Omotsando or Shibuya on any particular day, would be call around all the acting and modelling agencies, and rustle up a herd. Which is what they evidently did this day (I was only there accompanying my man Menace, who was on a genuine assignment. He was due to have his ears cleaned in a maid massage joint, courtesy of his agency.) I was just there for the ride, but I got rustled into the action nonetheless. Since I wasn't aligned with any agency, I didn't get paid for my gig, and I had to stand around a long time in the rain with some Citibank currency trader from Chicago. On top of that, the clothes I was wearing, the badge that evoked the laughs, and the bag I was asked to open and expose, were not even my own. They belonged to my man Dennis the Menace, now in jail in Peru.
Menace was more than a touch concerned as the hostess started rummaging through his bag; it contained his pipe and a quantity of dope, which he used to carry on his person wherever he went (until he got busted by the airport staff in Lima at the end of 2008!) Fortunately she didn't find the goodies, and she took an interest in my Maru chan badge instead. If only the customs officials in Peru had been so negligent...
Here is the guide to the figure shops of Akihabara then:
Daydream Table Talk Cafe: 台東区上野３−１７−９タイムﾋﾞﾙ3F.
(3rd floor Taimu Building, 3-17-9 Ueno, Taito Ward.)
Phone: 03/3836 3156. Web: http://trpgtime.cool.ne.jp/first/index.html.
This is role play gaming cafe is about halfway from Akihabara to Ueno, just off Chou Dori near the south exit of Okachimachi Station.
The website claims: "TRPGのプレイヤー募集を前日までに カレンダー に書き込んだお客様には、 立卓成立・不成立を問わず立卓当日の在店料を割引いたします。
I am not exactly sure about this, but the cafe seems connected to the Games Workshop crew, who I have described below in the general G section of this alphabetical list. Games Workshop specializes in battle games, and you can battle away with many of them, at Daydream Table Talk Cafe.
The Studio Ghibli shop. These stores have lots of Ghibli character goods that can be hard to find in other stores.
Figyua Hobii Kan: 外神田４−７−１新東ﾋﾞﾙ.
(Shin Higashi Building, 4-7-1 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298 6167.
Figurine collectors should head to the Suehirochou subway station area while they are browsing around (ふらふらしている) Akihabara. While this is quite a distance (a couple of blocks) from the main electronics hub around Akihabara Station, there seems to be quite a cluster of figure shops at this far end of town. At the very far end of Akihabara, on Chuo Dori, you will find Toys Golden Age which I have described below. Right next door to Toys Golden Age there is this one, Figyua Hobii Kan. They don't have any signs in English, but you will be left in no doubt as to the nature of this shop by the huge figurines on display at the entrance. Here you can see Coyote and Road Runner, and in the window behind, the dress and thigh of a delectable model maid. They are just the harbingers of the floors of model mayhem inside...
A Japanese reviewer wrote in September of 2005 of the new Korean corner at Figyua Hobii Kan: "今日秋葉のフィギュアホビー館にいったら
Figyua Hobii Kan Second Store: 外神田４−７−１.
(4-7-1 Soto Kanda.)
Barely a few doors up the road from Figyua Hobii Hall main store there is another Figyua Hobii. I call this the Darth Vader shop because there is a big lifesize figure of Darth in the doorway, real imposing like. Always popular with ABoys wanting to pose in pictures with him... you could pose with him too if you like, and send me a picture to post on my website!
Inside both Figyua Hobii's, on the ground floor, there are stacks of papers cataloging all the goodies you can buy. There was one whole doublesided sheet devoted to Star Wars figurines (written in Japanese), but if you buy a cheap katakana/kanjiguide, you should be able to translate it. Here's a hint: ハン・ソロ is "Han Solo" in Japanese. There is another catalogue at Figyua Hobii (which is you might guess translates to "Figure Hobby" in English) devoted to Korean dolls. On this list are the LUTS dolls (including Delf "El" selling for 35,000 Yen), Delf Soo on sale for 30,000 Yen, and the Kid Delf "Woori" for 20,000 Yen), the DollShe collection (purchasing the adorably named Tanned Skin Hound will set you back a cool 40,000 Yen or $400 American), the Leeke World toys, and the Blue Fairy collection. For Johnny Depp fans, there are plenty of goods advertised from his movies such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sleepy Hollow and last but not least, Edward Scissorhands.
JoshB writes: "Fly-Ya is a damn hard place to find. If I can find my map, I'll post it. It's on the second floor in some back alley. Lots of vintage, but very expensive. Not the best vintage store, but worth a look."
Gamers Main Store: 外神田１−１４−７宝田ビル.
(Takarada Building, 1-14-7 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298 8720. Web: web: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten2/main.html. Map: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten2/map.html.)
Gamers (of Broccoli and Di Gi Charat fame) has a bunch of stores throughout Tokyo. Their 8-story main store is located in Akihabara.
Store hours are from 11am to 8.30pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.
One foreign visitor said: "Eight floors of anime goodness. This main store is located just outside the Electric Town exit of Akihabara Station."
Gamers Second (Akihabara Outlet) Store: 外神田１−１５−６ミツウロコビル2F.
(2nd floor Mitsu Urokobi Building, 1-15-6 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298-2015. Web: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten3/main.html. Map: http://www.broccoli.co.jp/gamers/honten3/map.html.
Located across the street from the main Gamers store (down the My Way 2 alley), this store is much smaller than the other Akihabara store, but it seems to contain a lot of close-out and sale items.
Open from 10am to 7.30pm daily.
Games Workshop: 千代田区神田神保町１−７三光堂ﾋﾞﾙ1F.
(1st floor Sankoudou Building, 1-7 Jimbouchou, Kanda, Chiyoda Ward.)
Phone: 03/3296 2733. Fax: 03/3296 2733. Web: http://jp.games-workshop.com/index.htm.
This place is a little bit of a trek from Akihabara, but fits in well with Akihabara's gaming and alternative reality vibe. It is billed as a "miniature battle game world", and even a cursory inspection of the store, will reveal a plentitude of alternative (and fully armed) worlds inside.
Peek into the windows as you pass by on the street, and you'll see metallic figures of Saruman and Aragorn and whole elephant armies (from RETURN OF THE KING) on the march. Go inside, and you will find customers or staff hunkered down over one of their own projects inside. There are actually four main aspects to this store, which has tentacles spreading into many parts of Japan -- including the nearby Daydream Table Talk Cafe at Ueno. And these four aspects are: modelling (assembling the character models), paint (painting the model), collection (assembling your army of models), and game (playing aginst likeminded individuals.) Some of the games commonly played here include The Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40,000.
Right next door is my favorite (old) bookstore in town Isseido Bookstore. If you dig Egyptian history, Homer and Herodotus, then Isseido Bookstore is your thang. Plenty of Oriental texts too -- yellowed tomes about adventures in Nepal, the opium dens of Indochina. The place has character man...
Hobbit & Hobby Station & Future Bees: 外神田１−１０−１１森ビル.
(Mori Building, 1-10-11 Soto Kanda.)
Phone (Hobby Station): 03/3257 1715
. Web: http://www.hbst.net. Map: http://www.hbst.net/tenpo/index.html.
These are but three of a number of figurine/model shops located in an old building in a small sidestreet just off Chuo Dori, right next to the train lines. Those railway lines and the rumbling you feel whenever a train goes past gives this place a Bladerunner feel, and for sci fi fans, the shops in this building have real character.
Hobbit, which has nothing to do with the Tolkien classic, features all the best of Japanese and western character figures. The last time I visited I was impressed by the Jack the Ripper sets which would make a great present for the kids -- Jack comes complete with blood-splattered clothes and a gruesome tool kit. I also spied figurine packs based on Hollywood movies like Alien, and for the cartoon crowd there were plenty of Batman goods (we all know he is the most-rounded of all the Superheroes 'coz he's cynical!), and Superman stuff. That was representing the Western World. So who was batting for the Eastern World? I need only write one word -- Gundam...
Hobbit is located on the 4th floor; Hobby Station is one floor up on the 5th. Hobbit is open late by Akihabara standards -- until 10pm on most nights, though it closes at 9pm on Sundays and holidays.
What have other figure fetishists said about Hobbit and the other stores in this building. JoshB visited Hobbit in June 2003 and wrote: "Hobbit is a small hobby and toy shop. Not much to see here. If you go to Gamers you don't need to go here, unless there sold out of something."
Operating eight stores in Akihabara, including the Main Store, Computer branch, Duty Free Akihabara branch and Watch & Camera Branch, the Mac Shop, the Gakkikan branch for music instruments and three Asobit City branches for hobby and game related products. Open daily 10am to 9pm. Some branches have longer opening hours.
(Please note: for the sake of confusing readers the Mac Shop is listed seperately. While being owned by the same parent company, this store has enough of an independent personality, to warrant an individual listing.)
Laox Asobit C.
Phone: 03/3257 2590. Web: www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/asobit_c.html. Map: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/images/map.gif.
The "C" in this department store name means "character", and we are not talking about Chinese characters here! Incidentally, "Asobit" is a play on words combining the Japanese for play (asobi) and the bit from bits and bytes fame. Semantics aside, however, this is one serious repository of anime paraphanalia. In the basement you will find the adult publications such as comics, novels (literary and adult-themed novels as well as books based on games), magazines and Gachapon. This is truly adults' only territory -- people under 18 will not be allowed down the stairs or out of the lift. Things are a bit more family-minded on the first floor, which is devoted to trading figures, miniatures, collectable sets, fancy characters and character-based publications and DVD's. The second floor is filled with new character figurines, Gundam plastic models, paints, and relared publications and DVD's. The third floor is the "Anime Character Floor" and features the likes of Microman, Pokemon, Transformers, Zoids, and American toys. There are also goodies for the girls. The fourth floor is devoted to special effects and heroes, with Masked Rider, Godzilla, Ultraman and company filling the shelves.
The highlight of the building, in my opinion, is the fifth floor. This is where (as I described in lurid detail somewhere above) I stumbled upon a row of lifesize anime dolls and maids with US$6000 price tags. The floor also includes blister figures and smaller dolls, as well as plenty of costumes.
Laox Asobit H.
Phone: 03/5298 3581. Web: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/laox_store/asobit_h.html. Map: http://www.laox.co.jp/english/images/map.gif.
The "H" in this department store name means "hobby", and this in my opinion is one of the best places in Akihabara for a serious hobbyist to get his or her rocks off. Gamers will also find plenty to entertain. It is certainly well stacked and stocked, up-to-date, and there are plenty of consoles where you can try out the latest games. I can imagine how cool it would be for a gamer in Japan to spend a few hours in this tower, slowly moving from game to game and floor to floor. But games are only the start of the fun here. There is even a shooting range where you can fire off a few rounds on the seventh floor. How cool is that! The first floor is devoted to the Gundam phenomenon while on the first floor there are the Playstation 2's and some girlie Nintendo models. The last time I was here, they were promoting the impending release of Final Fantasy XII, which is a big deal in Japan -- it is due to come out on March 16 2006. They were also promoting the Japanese martial arts adventure game Sengoku Musou which will come out on February 24. There were plenty of guys trying out the new games, and the atmosphere inside the store was electric, to say the least.
From the third floor up, hobbyism takes over. There are plastic scale models of various weapons of war, car and railroad models and then the gun floor on level six. Just a short escalator ride will take you to the shooting range on the seventh.
(6th floor Kitazawa Building, 3-14-9 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5298 8558. Web: www.otakara-1.com.
The Kitazawa Building on Chuo Dori should rank as one of the figurine centers of Akihabara. This is a typical oldschool Tokyo building -- a little old, a little rundown, thin as a needle and packed with wonders on every floor. There is a Kotobukiya somewhere in this building (for more information about them, read the Radio Hall article immediately below this one), and there is also a Yellow Submarine.
Havikoro Toy (phone 03/5295 1825) is on first floor and from the thick smell of hot plastic which emanates from this showroom, you know exactly what they stock inside.) But these are all mere sideshows to the main attraction -- which is Otakara on the 6th floor! So what do they have at Otakara, and what makes them so popular. The place was positively buzzing the last time I went there, on an April Sunday in the year 2006. As I remarked at the time of my last visit: "There is a strange nightclub/pachinko parlor feeling with a couple of songs being played on the stereo at the same time... a couple of slot machines in the corner... and rental facilities. But what are people renting... and why？" I have been able to work out the rental aspect of this shop yet -- but when I do, I will let you know ne.
Open from 11am to 9pm.
Radio Hall: 外神田１−１５−１６.
(1-15-16 Soto Kanda.)
(Next to Denki Gai exit of Akihabara Station.)
Rob Sullivan says: I paid a visit to Radio Hall myself recently to see what all the fuss was about. It is indeed even grander than
Harmful has described it, and full to the brim with rare and exotic specimens.
It is kind of like old school Akihabara, a rabbit warren not just on the horizontal plane but the
vertical as well, with plenty of hidden crannies and corners. This may seem strange, but Radio Hall reminds me of the old country house from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe -- an intricate place of endless corridors, stairways to nowhere, and magical portals into other dimensions at every turn. Climbing the stairs to the first floor, one comes upon
the Kotobukiya, a real treat for the models and figurine fanatics.
There is a wicked STAR WARS model display case set up outside Kotobukiya -- I think I saw a Millennium Falcon inside the glass box,
next to a model of one of them Imperial Walkers they landed on Hoth. (This is not the only Millennium Falcon I saw in the building -- there was another one up in the Yellow Submarine outlet two or two-and-a-half floors up.) The very next shop is called mac collection.
You would think this is a computer shop, but no, in keeping with the theme of the building it is devoted solely to models.
Especially automobile models -- think the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and you have the idea of
this shop. There seemed to be a lot of German models in particular -- pin this down to that famous German ingenuity!
From this point on, the building mutates into a variety of spaces and options. It seems like a maze at times,
a bundle of buildings all rolled into one. A note of warning -- getting out of this place in a hurry can be a
chore, and I was never really sure where the exit was. Just my kind of building! (the kind of building
you find yourself in with you are asleep in a dream...)
Anyway, after bidding adieu to mac collection, I found myself stumbling through the gates of
K Books, which is one of the flagships of Radio Hall. Plenty of books there, row upon row -- mostly porn. I am over
anime porn, it is dumb, but anyway even on Monday there were plenty of guys clogging the aisles buying this
kind of shiit. It's their life. I cruised past them, found an exit, climbed a warn and strictly functional
staircase to the next level. There I came upon one of the true wonders of Akihabara...
It's on the fourth floor of Radio Hall, and it is called Kaiyodo Hobby Lobby. This extensive store is based on a popular Osaka store of the same name, and features some of the leading talents of Japanese figurine design. There are for example works by Matsumura Shinobu, who has done models for the dinosaur department of The Museum of New York. Even for those who are not figurine fanatics, this place is well worth a look-in. I know that Japanese figures and
manga/anime stuff can often look lame and childish, but Kaiyodo Hobby Lobby has some mean
kick-ass Hollywood stuff as well -- in fact some of them may have even been used in Hollywood movies, they are that good! Particularly noteworthy is a small figurine of Freddy Krueger in slashing mode, and that Hollywood
slayer of the 1980s who had all the nails sticking out of his head (I forget this particular gentleman's name,
but even as a plastic figurine he looks bad.) Elsewhere in the shop you can find lifesize and superlifesize models of various
maids and monsters. The price tags for some of these items climb as high as one million yen (US$10,000.)
Further on up the stairs there are more delights and diversions, seemingly without end. For figurine lovers Radio Hall ought to be your first port of call when visiting Akihabara. You have been informed -- so take heed!
RC Paradise: 秋葉原駅電気街口をでて
(4th-6th floors Sofamap Building.)
Phone: 03/5297 5050. Web: http://www.rajiten.com/. Map: http://www.rajiten.com/akiba/map.html.
This place is so new, I had the honor of bargestorming its preopening ceremonies today (April 7 2006). The story started when, while walking along Chuo Dori in the heart of Akihabara, right in the gaming quarter, I saw a sign called "RC Paradise". The sign said "Net and Game Field/50 titles/At RC Paradise/4th-5th-6th floors". Intriqued and wondering what all this was about, I headed into the accompanying building, entered the lift, pushed the button up to the 4th floor. There were a couple of Japanese guys in the elevator and they seemed puzzled by my choice of destination. "RC Heaven... what's that?" one of them asked his buddy. "Shiranaishi..." ("I don't know!") the other one answered.
After stumbling out of the elevator on the 4th floor, I beheld what appeared to be an immaculately clean, immaculately detailed and precise arrangement of model car parts -- rows of little tyres in plastic packs and so on, for example. And it dawned on me -- this was a model shop. But just as I was getting into the appreciating of this joint, a couple of suits came running over to me and apologized (in traditional Japanese fashion): "This store isn't open yet! come back tomorrow. That's our grand opening day!"
I have long wanted to the king of Akihabara when it comes to keeping up with trends and visiting new establishments. So I felt proud that I had gotten a peep preview of RC Heaven today a day before Joe Public -- even if this sneak preview happened by accident. I don't care -- I'll take whatever chance I get.
There are in fact a spread of RC Paradise's across Japan.
Open 11am to 9pm.
Role & Roll Station: 外神田１−６−１外神田ビル6F.
(6th floor Soto Kanda Building, 1-6-1 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5296 1090. Map: http://www.arclight.co.jp/ r_r_s/access.htm.
There is no such thing as Rock&Roll here, it is just Role&Roll. Perhaps the rationale for the name is something like this -- you have got your (fantasy game) role, now roll (the friggin' dice!) This roleplaying game center is situated immediately beneath a maid cafe/reflexology/massage parlor, Garden Fairy. They have the usual fantasy and roleplaying game kits for sale -- generally a selection of battles in real and mythical and historical locations (such as World War II!) Like some other roleplaying businesses in Akihabara, they have a room set aside for battles between gamers. I visited one golden day this Golden Week to see what was going on, and what I found there, was this: Lots of guys sitting round the conference room playing Fantasy games，heavy metal music on the soundsystem only adding to the atmosphere. Plenty of laughter... who said geeks don't know how to have fun？! And if you get tired of fighting, you can always get up the stairs to the Garden Fairy, to get all chilled out.
Sankou Gun and Hobby: 外神田３−６−１第一協和ﾋﾞﾙ.
(Dai-Ichi Kyouwa Building, 3-6-1 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/5294 3281.
Among all the subcultures and collectors who frequent Akihabara, there is one small market segment devoted to immitation guns and rifles. Higher up on this page you will have read that one particular Akihabara department store boasts a full shooting range, where punters can pop off a few rounds at selected targets. This store is smaller than that one, but still has its fair share of guns: airguns，model guns，electric guns，rifles and more. The guns look pretty lifelike and could frighten the cops in your city or town back home. At Akihabara gun shops they also sell novelty items which make cute presents for friends and family -- little air guns shooting plastic pellets, for example. This gun shop is close to the Moe-Sham maid hairdressing salon, so you will sometimes see maids running down the street, on some maid errand or another.
Tam Tam: 外神田６−１４−２さかい末広ﾋﾞﾙ3F.
(3rd floor Suehiro Building, 6-14-2 Soto Kanda, on the corner of Chuo Dori and Kuramaebashi Dori.)
Phone: 03/5816 5667. Web: www.hs-tamtam.co.jp/main.html.
Is open 10am to 9pm. They have a couple of stores around Japan in places like Nagoya and so on -- the Akihabara one is strategically located on the big intersection of Chuo Dori and Kuramaebashi Dori. From my observations, it is stocked with model railroads and miniature cars. I first found it a little tricky to find one's way upstairs (past the swanky Eisan Duty Free complex.) Take the lift which could be packed with model enthusiasts. Once finally inside，the place is spacious and the range exhaustive. There are Johnny Lightning cars with names like "Grateful Dead" (350 Yen), "Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy Series" (450 Yen)，the crazy vehicle from "Ghostbusters" for 450 Yen，and so on.
Toys Golden Age: 外神田４−７−２小林ビル1F.
(1st floor Omura Building 4-7-2 Soto Kanda.)
(Phone: 03/5256 0012. Internet auctions: Click here.)
Right next to Suehirouchuo subway station at the far (Ueno) end of Akihabara, on the arterial Chuo Dori, you will find Toys Golden Age. This place stocks vintage figures and toys from the 1960s 1970s 1980s and 90s. Hence the name "Golden Age".
If you can't visit its Akihabara store, you can buy Toys Golden Age goods online at Yahoo. Click the link above for a mindboggling array of strange robots, classic monsters, aliens, Kubrick lego black little ladies and men, scuba divers with spear guns, monkeys doing gymnastics, MJ (Mighty Jack) Series rockets, X-Men, miniature UFOs staffed by cute colorful starmen, spacecraft from some of the most loved anime programs of my childhood (such as the Cosmo Tiger), plenty of Star Trek stuff from the vaults of history, Matchbox cars (another symbol of my childhood!) such as the Blazetrailer, great Transformers such as Alpha Quintesson, and so on, and on. The list is endless. And such is the nature of Japan -- endless diversion, endless fun.
Here is a description of Yamagiwa I picked up on the Net: "Go along Chuo-dori past the big blue and yellow striped Yamagiwa department store sign (this is more obvious at night...). Yamagiwa have a number of branches in Akihabara. First on your right past the second Yamagiwa store is a side turning with Yamagiwa Anime, Yamagiwa Soft and Yamagiwa U-Shop, which sells used CD and DVD. Further along the main road is Tora no Ana, right next to Animate's Akihabara branch. They both sell manga, books, DVD, games, merchandise and models, in an area already saturated with such trade, although Tora no Ana seem to be more a secondhand dojinshi outlet these days. Animate has a far better stock of general anime related goods and they give you freebies... although Tora no Ana have a better stock of artbooks. Look in both;)"
"The best strategy with these high-rise stores is to take the lift (if you can find it) to the top floor and work your way down by the stairs. If you get groggy take a rest. It's probably better to avoid travel to Japan at all in summer, the heat will make shopping in a place like Akihabara a less than positive experience."
Yellow Submarine: 外神田１−１５−１６ラジオ会館7F.
(7th floor Rajio Kaikan, 1-15-16 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 0/-5298 7712. Web: http://www.yellowsubmarine.co.jp/main3.htm.
This is not a Beatles novelty shop (you will have to go all the way to the John Lennon Museum at Saitama for real Beatlemania). It is rather one of Japan's leading hobbyist chains. There are actually three Yellow Submarines in Akihabara, and many more scattered across Japan. The address listed above is for the main Akihabara store, which specializes in games and scale models. If you walk along Chuo Dori towards Ueno after exiting Akihabara Station, you will see on your left, on the corner of Myojin Street seven floors up, another Yellow Submarine. This one is completely devoted to RPG (role playing games). The last time I was there, the shelves were groaning under mostly German fantasy inspired, Dungeons and Dragons style games. There was also a large cafeteria/classroom setup at the back, with a lot of chairs and tables. Actually the whole building that this Yellow Submarine is located within, is cool -- there is an anime cafe just down the stairs.