From Retro gaming in Akihabara to some of the world’s largest cosplay conventions, Tokyo has it all! In a slight adaptation of the classic workplace tagline, you don’t have to be a geek to visit Tokyo, but it certainly helps.
Whether you’re into the classics like Ghibli (head to the museum, enjoy a cute Totoro cream puff or look forward to the new theme park) or some of the nicher options, there’s plenty to see, do and buy to fulfil your anime dreams. Get out and about and take your favorite shows as inspiration for a tour of the city or give our guide to loving anime a go. There’s the Suginame Animation Museum to visit, or head to Akihabara, Ikebukuro or Nakano for some retail therapy that might just beat its more obvious contenders.
Cosplay in Tokyo is a fine art, but there’s plenty of space to hone your craft while you’re here. If you’re looking to showcase your creations, our guide to Comiket is a great place to start. Keep in mind that even if you’re not here at the right time, other events offer a great opportunity to get kitted-up, including Halloween Parades and annual events. Check out some previous examples for an idea of the costume-levels we’re talking about and read on here for all of the best pop-culture events in Tokyo.
Here are some of the best events to plan for:
Home to Sega, Nintendo, Konami, Square Enix and Bandai Namco, Japan is right at home when it comes to classic gaming. Akihabara is the go-to spot for shopping as well as Maid Cafes and other unusual activities, but since the closure of some of the best spots (RIP Sega’s 2 Akihabara Arcades and the Gigo Building 4) it’s taken a bit of a knock. You can still find the independents and some big names like Super Potato, but consider giving our city-wide second-hand game-buying options a try to avoid the hefty pricetags that come with the electric city. For the arcades, there’s also Joypolis,as well as the real-world of Pokemon Go (still going strong in Japan!).
If living in the country of consoles isn’t enough, you can step into the gaming world for real. While it’s still very much unofficial, the Mario Kart experience lives on, and riding around the streets of Tokyo on a mariokart is as close as you’ll get to being Yoshi himself. Alternatively, if you can make it down to Osaka, the Universal Studios Themepark has recently opened a Nintendo World, complete with interactive challenges, rides, themed food and an incredible set design that takes you right into the gaming world (literally).
If you like things old-school and concrete, then why not try our guide to boardgames and our tips on winning those pesky claw-games. We’ve also got some VR tips and tricks to get you out of the real world, if it all becomes too much!