Otaku Shopping: Ikebukuro, Tōkyō, Japan

Ikebukuro is sometimes labelled “Akiba for girls”, but that’s only half-right. While the area is riddled with some of the best and largest doujinshi shops in Tōkyō, it’s also home to Animate’s flagship store and head office. Yep, eight floors of the best Anime and Manga merchandise available in Tōkyō. Ikebukuro’s also excellent for second-hand…

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Otaku Shopping: Akihabara, Tōkyō, Japan

Akihabara is often the first port of call for the Western otaku in search of genuine Japanese geek goodies. Everything from Gundam kits to limited edition figurines are available – all you need is the cash to buy them, and unlimited patience to help you find what you want. I won’t lie. Akiba (Akihabara) is…

Otaku Shopping: Nakano, Tōkyō, Japan

Where Akihabara fails, Nakano Broadway succeeds. This shopping centre in Nakano, Tōkyō, has just about everything the geek shopper requires, and a heck of a lot of things you don’t know you need until you see them. It seems so innocent at first: a little shopping arcade with snack shops, a kimono store or two,…

Meiji Jingū, Tōkyō, Japan

One of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines, Meiji Jingū was built after the deaths of Emperor Meiji and his wife, the Empress Shoken, and they were enshrined here on the 1st November 1920. The shrine was a colossal effort on the part of the Japanese people, to commemorate an Emperor who brought Japan into the…

Sengakuji, Tōkyō, Japan

The story of the 47 Ronin is to Japan what Arthurian or Robin Hood legends are to England, with one vital difference: we have concrete evidence of the 47 Ronin. Over 300 years after their deaths, their graves are still attended, incense lit for them by strangers every day of the year. If you don’t…

Matsu no Ōrōka Corridor, Tōkyō, Japan

What remains of the location where Asano Naganori lost his temper and tried to kill Kira Yoshinaka is these days little more than a plaque and some trees in the Imperial Palace East Gardens, but if you have the time or the gardens were already on your itinerary, it’s worth a few extra minutes of…

Ninja Museum of Igaryu, Iga City, Japan

Ninjas, as we all know, are far superior to pirates. Iga City in Mie Prefecture was home to one of the most successful schools of Ninjutsu, the Iga-ryū, and is now the go-to destination for anyone interested in the history behind these skilled agents of espionage. Ninjutsu, contrary to what countless films might try to…

Iga Ueno, Japan

Iga City was formed in 2004 from a handful of towns (and one city) in Mie Prefecture, but is still commonly referred to as Iga Ueno: Ueno was the city, and to distinguish it from the identically-named district of Tokyo it was usually called Iga Ueno, as Iga was the next largest town. Famous as…

Gifu Castle, Gifu, Japan

You can see Gifu Castle from the train as you approach this small city. It sits on the apex of Mount Kinka, and while the castle is “merely” a concrete reconstruction of what was once one of the strongest castles in the country, it has a fascinating history, and an even more mesmerising interior. Originally…

Inuyama Castle, Inuyama, Japan

Inuyamajō is one of only twelve pre-Edo castles in Japan to have survived to the current day, and one of only four of those to be designated a National Treasure. It claims to be the oldest, but the parts of it which are genuinely old are a few years younger than those of Maruoka Castle…