Japan has such a rich culture that is not only incredibly historic, but modern as well. From the amazing cuisine to the unique shops that fill the country, there is truly something for everyone. Many flock to Japan for the chance to immerse themselves in the birthplace of anime and experience the eccentric culture. However, outside of Tokyo, you may not be aware of the other options to explore anime culture. People are often familiar with Akihabara, but have you ever heard of Den Den Town Osaka? If you’re an anime or manga lover, you must visit this fascinating place during your stay.
SO WHAT IS DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA?
Osaka’s Den Den Town is very popular for its great collection of anime, electronics, and manga stores. The name comes from the Japanese word denki, meaning electricity or light, further proving how vibrant this place is. You can find everything from collectibles to maid cafes here. Located in the Nipponbashi district, tourists and natives alike visit this area for a variety of reasons.
You can find this incredible place right along Sakaisuji Avenue, right near Nipponbashi Station. Nipponbashi is on the Sakaisuji Line, Sennichimae Line of the Osaka subway system. From there, Den Den Town is only a couple minutes away by foot, with clear signs guiding you. Namba Station is another option that will lead you to the top of Den Den Town in mere minutes. However, be sure it’s the Nankai Namba or subway Midosuji Line station. There are several Namba stations, and you could end up further than you anticipated if you choose the wrong one! Ebisucho Station is also close, as you just have to head north to reach Den Den Town! This station is also on the Sakaisuji Line. Osaka has a great public transportation infrastructure that allows you to travel to various places at a low cost.
HOW DOES DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA COMPARE TO AKIHABARA?
People often refer to Den Den Town as Osaka’s version of Akihabara. Akihabara is one of Tokyo’s premier tourist areas, especially for those with an affinity for electronics and anime/manga. Though Akihabara is bigger, tourists report a comparably enjoyable experience in Den Den Town, even preferring it due to better prices. Therefore, do not write off Den Den Town just because you might hear about it less. It is a wonderful place to visit, and a must see for you anime lovers! Most of the anime and manga stores are on Otaku or “Ota” Road, which is one block behind Sakaisuji Avenue.
#1 ANIME STORE IN DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA: ANIMATE
Animate is the biggest retailer for anime and manga products in Japan. If that doesn’t intrigue you enough, you’ll be dying to visit after reading this. The store is open from 10 AM to 9 PM everyday and accepts credit cards, which is great for foreigners! There are four levels to the store, with manga, cosplay costumes, anime merch, and figurines. Animate is also special because it offers special events each month! For example, they sometimes host anime artists and allow customers to have meet and greets. The more popular anime have the biggest selection, but smaller ones still have things such as stickers and keychains available. Animate is a chain store that you can find in other places, but don’t let that prevent you from accessing the incredible selection. Most people will rank Animate as the top destination for your anime merch needs in Osaka’s Den Den Town.
A fun fact is that Animate also has a cafe across from the store. The cafe takes a different theme based on different anime, making it an extremely fun experience for tourists. In the past, they have done a Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan collabs. In the cafe, people may inquire about trading the coasters or goods you receive at the cafe for their desired character. Due to the cafe being extremely popular, you will want to enter the reservation lottery system online. Non-Japanese speaking tourists may have trouble doing this, but with Google Translate browser extensions, it is possible. Be careful that you choose that proper Nipponbashi location, as several will pop up. You can try waiting in line to secure a reservation time, but this can be cumbersome and therefore not a great option.
Address: Animate Bldg. 1F, 2F, 1-1-3 Nippombashi Nishi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi
# 2 ANIME STORE IN DEN-DEN TOWN OSAKA: JUNGLE
Jungle is another great option to find anime goods at. There are several anime goods throughout the store, but mostly figurines. They are open on weekdays from 12 PM-8 PM, and open an hour earlier on weekends. Jungle is special because they sell secondhand pieces, so you’ll find unique items that may no longer be available. If you’re curious about their selection, check out their website. Not only can you also online shop, but also get an idea about what types of anime the store carries. Jungle in Osaka’s Den Den Town is the headquarters, so this is definitely the best location to visit. However, they do have others around Japan and even one in Los Angeles! Come to Jungle if you’re especially looking for anime figurines, as this is their premier specialty.
Address: 3 Chome-4-16 Nipponbashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka, 556-0005
Torejaras is also another great option to find figurines for very good prices. It is a second hand shop, and also has several gachapon outside the store! Gachapon are those little capsule toys, and the machines outside the store will make this place much easier to find. This is especially great if you’re on a budget, and is open from 10 AM to 9PM.
#3 ANIME STORE IN DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA: GEE STORE
Gee Store has merchandise from all types of anime, and quite an extensive one at that. The back of the store contains a lot of cosplay merchandise, where you are bound to find something you love. There is a huge selection for anime series such as Dragon Ball Z and One Piece. This store is open from 11 AM - 8PM daily. Gee is organized in sections by anime type, making it easy for tourists to find the items they desire. Some visitors report slightly higher prices, but agree that the quality makes up for it. You’ll want to come here if cosplay and apparel merchandise is your top priority.
Address: 7-7 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0075, Japan
Do you have a special interest in cosplay? To get the full experience, try a wig shop to truly transform. Assist Cosplay is a great place with a huge selection of wigs lining up their store. The staff can help you put the wig on and turn into your favorite characters. Assist is open from 11:30 to 7:45 on weekdays and 11 to 8:15. This can really push your cosplay look to the next level. Combine this with Gee, and you’ll become the character of your dreams!
OTHER PLACES TO FIND ANIME MERCH IN DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA:
Taito Game Station also carries anime merchandise. Though people know it more as an arcade/game center place, you might find some things here while you are stopping by. Yellow Submarine and Sofmap (Giga Store) also contain anime merch as well. Sofmap is famous for being an electronics store, but the Giga store also sells figurines and cosplay. These are just some other options to maximize your anime shopping experience in Osaka’s Den Den Town!
WHAT ELSE TO DO IN DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA:
If you’re a manga lover, make sure to go check out K-Books and Toranoana, in addition to Animate. The options at these stores are endless, making it a great way for people to buy various manga and possibly learn some Japanese as well.
For those who want to check out cards, go to Card Lab. This is the best place for card games and selling rare cards, so definitely come here if this speaks to you. Card Lab is open from 11 AM-9PM on weekdays, and 10 AM-9PM on weekends. Yellow Submarine and Dragon Star are also good alternatives. People can spend hours looking for cards they desire and each store has a different selection, so it is worth going to several if you’re on the hunt!
Electronic lovers and those looking for toys also have many options in Osaka’s Den Den Town. Super Potato is a great place for some retro games that are sure to invoke some childhood memories. For toys, Joshin Super Kids Land contains a lot of plastic, model parts/toys, and vehicle models. Electronic wise, you can enjoy a wide selection and also discover some unique items. Stores like Sofmap and Joshin have tax-free shopping available for tourists in addition to their massive collections. Dospara is another place that carries anything PC and gaming related, such as keyboards, desktops, and gaming headphones.
IF YOU GET HUNGRY IN DEN DEN TOWN OSAKA:
After a long day of finding the best retro games and anime merch, you’ll need to grab something to eat. Luckily in Den Den Town, there are plenty of delicious, unique options to choose from. For more traditional food, you can try ramen and Japanese curry in the area. Pommier and Jotoh are good curry options, while Tensho is a great ramen place. However, for a more distinctive experience, try a themed cafe! This could either be an anime or maid cafe. Maid cafes provide a really fun experience for tourists, as it is very unique to Japan. If you’re looking to try a maid cafe, Osaka’s Den Den Town is the perfect place.
MAID CAFES IN DEN DEN TOWN
For those unfamiliar with the concept of a maid cafe, you’re in for a treat. A maid cafe is basically a restaurant where the waitresses are doing cosplay as maids. Some people do feel uncomfortable at maid cafes, making it important to understand what will happen before actually going. On the other hand, many also love the experience. The maids often perform as very cute and call you either princess/master. There are many choices, but some popular in Osaka’s Den Den Town are Milkcafe and Ccocha.
However, it is good to keep in mind a few things before you go. Each maid cafe is a little bit different. First, many maid cafes will not allow pictures, as it’s customary to take one with the maid when paying. It is common for places to charge for pictures, so do not be surprised if this happens. Due to this, do not start taking pictures before without permission. You can take photos of your food though.
Also, many of them do not speak English well, but most pictures on the menu will be self explanatory. Different fees exist at each maid cafe, for example, some have a time requirement or charge. A maid cafe can be expensive depending on where you go, so try to check in advance! Maid cafes can also vary based on the theme they are going for. For example, a maid cafe can either be more traditional or modern. If you have interest in going to a maid cafe, check out the different options and choose one that suits you.
Osaka’s Den Den Town is a very unique place that is every manga, anime, and electronic lover’s dream! There is truly something for everyone here, and you can easily spend the day searching through the massive inventory. Anime lovers can focus on their specific merchandise wants, such as cosplay or figurines. Manga lovers can buy used books and practice their language skills. Electronic lovers can go to several stores and find anything they might desire. Even better, after a tiring day of shopping, the area has plenty of excellent dining options. This is a truly special area that you must visit if ever in Osaka. Although people may say it is Akihabara’s little sister, Den Den Town has its own distinct profile and provides a memorable experience for all tourists.
Featured Image: Alex Holyoake