Continued from Part 2.
Shopping for CDs, DVDs, and Magazines
Although the metropolis is dotted with CD, DVD, and bookstores, I prefer shopping in two major stops on the Yamanote line: Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Shinjuku is home to not one but three Kinokuniya Bookstores: two on the East Exit (Main and Annex) and the giant one inside Takashimaya Department Store. There is also a Tower Records at the South East exit — which houses several floors of stuff, stuff, and more stuff.
Shibuya on the other hand is home to Tsutaya Records and Tower Records Shibuya (HMV’s iconic Shibuya store closed last year T_T). Tsutaya Records is right in front of Scramble Crossing, and is home to what is allegedly the busiest Starbucks branch in the world. It sells new and used CDs and DVDs, as well as magazine, books, and comic books.
On the other end of the street is the giant yellow Tower Records, which offers much the same merch as Tsutaya — I swear I spend hours inside just browsing shelves.
Shopping for Personal Electronics and Videogames
One word: Akihabara. In this weird and wonderful neighboorhood, you can find anything from cut-price DSLRs to pocketable adult toys, the latest NDS and PSP games as well as games for the PC and third generation consoles. There are even stores that stock retro games that are long out of print, and indie games that are usually only sold at Comiket. Many shops offer duty-free prices for foreign tourists, especially the bigger ones — just ask the saleperson for assistance.
I do have two tips though: 1) shop around before buying anything — many stores will usually try to undercut their competitors if you ask them to match the other store’s prices; and 2) if you can read Japanese and are buying a digital camera, opt for the local version with the Japanese menus — they are priced at least half the going rate for international versions with the English menus (that’s the only difference, everything else is the basically same).
Shopping for Toys and Figures
I’m not gonna go at lenght about this since you can find info on other sites like dannychoo.com, but there are two main places where you can buy new or used toys and figures: Akihabara and Nakano. In Akihabara, head for Radio Kaikan for small toy sellers and consignment shops specializing in toys and figures. Along the main strip of Chuo Doori are also shops of all shapes and sizes dealing with everything from cast-off figures to doll customization tools. In Nakano, head for Nakano Broadway, which houses several different branches of the infamous Mandarake, as well as other shops that deal in mostly second-hand but good condition toys, figures, anime CDs and DVDs, and comic books.
Shopping for BL Manga and Doujinshi
Aside from Akihabara and Nakano — which deals mainly in boys stuff like eroge, H doujin, and other hilarious tentacly stuff, you can also find manga and doujinshi of the bent kind for the serious fujoshi over at Ikebukuro’s Otome Road. Just head for the giant Tokyu Hands store, go across the street (Sunshine 60), and keep going for a couple more blocks. If you start seeing girls walking around with suitcases full of doujinshi, you know you are in the right neighborhood. Ikebukuro is also great for specialty cafes — the district is home to several butler and cat cafes. Pick your poison.
Tokyo is home to some of the most sought-after themed entertainment venues for fans from all over the world. You can visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka to experience reknowned anime director Miyazaki Hayao’s creations brought to life. For Hello Kitty fans, Sanrio Puroland in Tama City is a small but perfectly-formed gem of a theme park, just half an hour from Shinjuku via the Keio line. Hanayashiki in Asakusa is a nostalgic romp through turn-of-the-century Japan, with old-style rides and activities; the park can be reached on foot from the famous Sensoji Temple and Kaminarimon.
Last but not least is the twin Disney parks: Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea. Both parks are in neighboring Chiba prefecture, but can be reached in just half an hour by train from Tokyo Station. The two parks are separate from each other (although they are connected by an internal monorail line) and offer completely different rides and activities. The purchase of a single ticket (JPY 5800) grants you admission to either park — although I guarantee you will not be able to finish all rides in a single day, making it neccessary to purchase a two-day or even a three-day pass (JPY 10000 and up).
If you are on a tight budget, or simply do not have the time or inclination to spend an entire day at the park, I recommend coming in the late afternoon on weekends to take advantage of the park’s special ticketing promo. Called the Starlight Pass (JPY 4700), the tickets grant access to the park and all its rides if you enter the gates at 3PM onwards. This was the ticket I purchased during my first visit to Tokyo Disneyland, and I thought it was such a steal that I did it again for Disneysea.
That’s about it for this series of posts. If you think I missed something just drop me a line in the comments box and I’ll see if I can fix you up with something useful. Cheers!