5 Great Shopping Spots Near Akihabara Station
Akihabara, Tokyo is rightly famous as an otaku culture and electronics mecca. Indeed, for your fix of manga, anime, and game culture and shopping, there can hardly be a better place to head to in Japan! But, for days when you’re in the area and in the mood for something different, Akiba is also home to many low-key spaces where you can enjoy the other parts of Tokyo’s consumption landscape, such as clothes and accessory shopping, fancy restaurants, and bookstores. In this article, I suggest five spaces to head to when searching for a different vibe in Akihabara.
5. Atre Akihabara
Whenever I am in Akihabara, yet not quite ready to go perusing for manga, I first head to Akihabara Atre 1 and 2- conveniently connected to the JR Akihabara Station. My personal favorite is Atre 1, which has various foods for sale on the ground floor (check out Donq’s baked goods!), and two floors of shopping with the fourth floor dedicated to A la Campagne, a French bakery and cafe from Kobe. If you need to eat near the station around the ever-busy lunchtime, A la Campagne manages to be both lesser-known and tasty. The shopping floors are surprisingly diverse, and include a mini Tokyu Hands-Hands Be, a bookstore, a pharmacy, a small UNIQLO, a range of unisex accessories at varying price points, a shoe store, and an import-based grocery store.
4. The UDX Building, "Akiba Ichi"
If I am planning on eating a meal in Akihabara, I almost always head to Akiba Ichi, a collection of cafes, restaurants and shops within a business complex. There is a great range of food types and prices here, from Tully’s Coffee to yakiniku. Indeed, this Tully’s is a good go-to if you want a latte or coffee in Akiba; they have outdoor seating, as well as indoor, and far faster turnover than Starbucks. When in Akiba Ichi, if you are feeling like washoku (Japanese food), I would suggest Hisago Tempura, a branch of a restaurant that has been open since Taisho 7 (1918). The lunch sets here are a steal compared to supper prices, but if you don’t arrive at opening, you might not get a seat! For youshoku (Western food), I recently enjoyed Trattoria Alioli on the second floor and especially their antipasto plate with in-house smoked meats and vegetables!
3. The Aki-Oka Marche and Artisan
These two relatively recent additions to Akiba’s landscape offer a very different shopping experience from the tax-free emporiums and electronics stores which line much of the main drive. At the Aki-Oka Marche and Artisan markets, you can shop for upscale artisanal souvenirs and foods in the heart of Akihabara. The first to open in 2010, the Aki-Oka Artisan is a collection of independent craft artisans selling their wares, from traditional styles to beautiful wood pieces for holding your electronics. The Chabara Aki-Oka Marche, under the tracks between the Akihabara and Okachimachi JR stations, sells gourmet foods from each region of Japan, making it an ideal place to buy souvenirs reflecting the country’s rich food culture.
2. The Akihabara Book-Off
The Book-Off used bookstore in Akihabara is another wonderful place to escape the crowds. Although it is naturally a great place to pick up gently used manga, photo books of your favorite celebrity, and video games, this many-floored store also sells old kitchen appliances, walls upon walls of CDs (both non-Japanese and Japanese music) and DVDs, and of course books galore! I have found fashion magazines only a month out of date, bilingual English-Japanese cookbooks, and multi-CD compilations of Japanese jazz, all under ¥500. There is even a small English books section and a decent Japanese language learning section, a hidden gem for anyone who has shopped for language books at new book prices! Naturally, if you can read Japanese, the world is your oyster with books from every genre lining the walls. It’s hard to go into Book-Off and walk out empty-handed!
1. Honey Toast Cafe
And finally, if you are in the mood for a sweet treat, look no further than the Honey Toast Cafe and Bakery, conveniently located in the Pasela Resorts entertainment complex with restaurants and karaoke all with a Bali resort theme. Honey Toast has its own bakery in house and serves whole mini-loaves and toast topped with, you guessed it, honey (or maple syrup), as well as an array of standard and premium toppings, like chocolate banana and pudding. The sight of a whole loaf hollowed out and then filled with the cubed bread and elaborate sweet flavorings is practically made for your Instagram feed! Plus, if you are craving something more savory, they also offer hamburgers and fries for lunch and dinner time.