Akihabara, Bakurocho, Asakusabashi, Ryogoku
Chabara - Retail: Akihabara
[Open 11am-8pm daily.]
A stylish new retail venture from JR (the train company), Chabara is a sister store of the nearby under-the-tracks Aki-Oka crafts complex, showcasing local food products from around Japan. The retail section offers a vast selection of food and...
Mandarake Complex - Retail: Akihabara
[Open noon-8pm daily.]
A Mecca for manga maniacs, Mandarake carries a huge selection of toys, figurines and other collectibles as well as new and used comics.
Moff Rell - Rabbit cafe: Akihabara
[Open noon-9pm. Closed some Mondays.]
The rabbits seem friendlier and more outgoing than average at this small cafe. Perhaps it's a result of the cafe's policy of providing all visitors with a complimentary packet of rabbit snacks upon arrival. There are two small playrooms, with two...
Mocha - Cat cafe: Akihabara
[Open 10am-10pm (enter by 9:30) daily.]
With ten branches and counting, this popular chain knows how to deliver a cat-cafe experience to a mass audience. This particular branch seems even larger than average, with plenty of seating so that it doesn't seem crowded even when there are a...
Popondetta Akihabara - Retail: Akihabara
[Open noon-8:30pm. Closed 3rd Wed.]
The highlight of this model-railroad shop is a giant Tokyo-inspired track layout that takes up most of the second floor. Customers can rent one of several tracks by the hour, and either rent a model train here or bring their own.
Neko Jalala - Cat cafe: Akihabara
[Open 11am-7:30pm (LO) daily.]
JaLaLa distinguish themselves within the competitive cat-cafe world with their choice of exotic breeds such as Abyssinians and Maine Coons - seventeen in all, including some of the largest housecats we've ever encountered. The long-running shop...
Maach Ecute - Shopping complex: Akihabara
[Open 11am-9pm daily.]
This repurposed former train station (Manseibashi, last used in 1943) has been beautifully transformed into a niche shopping complex, housing a handful of upscale interior and design stores, cafes, restaurants and other shops. Part of the original...
Akiba Fukurou - Bird cafe: Akihabara
[Open 11am-8pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
This owl cafe in the center of Akihabara has a unique atmosphere - more like a theme-park attraction than an animal cafe. From the outside it looks like a repurposed downtown office, but inside it's a fantasy world of sleepy owls, crystal...
Forest of Owl - Bird cafe: Akihabara
[Open 2-11pm (Wed 5-11) daily.]
Although it just opened in May 2015, the cafe-bar "Forest of Owl" (Auru no Mori) is a game changer. Just pay the Y500 entrance fee and Y200 soft drink charge (a huge choice from a bank of vending machines), and you're set for an unlimited time with...
3331 Arts Chiyoda - Art gallery: Akihabara
[Open noon-7pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.]
Once a junior high school, this unusual art complex is still furnished with blackboards in some of the former classrooms, which are now used as offices and galleries by more than two dozen artists. The first floor gallery space is the main...
Aki-Oka - Shopping complex: Akihabara
[Open 11am-7pm. Closed Wednesdays.]
Officially known as "2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan," this is a complex of galleries, boutiques and workshops for artisans of both traditional and modern crafts. Lined up under the JR railroad tracks are some two dozen shops selling (and often making...
Machineko - Cat cafe: Iwamotocho
[Open 2-8pm (Sat, Sun noon-8). Closed Tuesdays, Fridays.]
The setup at this rescue-cat cafe is quite minimal - a few perches and climbing trees, some lockers and vending machines and a few seats for visitors, a handful of cat-themed magazines and just a few cat toys. There's a radio playing in one corner....
Kanzan Gallery - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open 11am-7:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
Produced by the Japan Photo Arts Society, Kanzan puts on exhibitions of contemporary photography and other art. They have different guest curators for each show in order to present work from a variety of different perspectives. And be sure to...
Taro Nasu - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open 10am-6pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, holidays.]
Taro Nasu first opened his namesake contemporary art gallery in 1988, moving it in 2008 to its current, relatively large space, which was designed by architect Jun Aoki. The gallery represents two dozen well-established Japanese and international...
Alpha M - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open 11am-7pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, holidays.]
Established in 1988 by Musashino Art University, this non-profit gallery is a platform for guest curators to introduce talented new artists. When you visit, don't miss the smaller exhibition room behind the reception desk, which also includes a...
Lower Akihabara - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open 11am-6pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, holidays.]
This is one of the most interesting physical spaces for a Bakurocho gallery, with its odd basement exhibition room with 180cm-high ceilings (watch your head!) and its long, narrow entryway. The gallery holds several shows a year, and represents a...
Koki Arts - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open noon-7pm. Closed Sun, Mon, Tue, holidays.]
Koki Arts' gallery director grew up in New York City, and his gallery represents both American and Japanese contemporary artists at various stages of their careers, with the goal of introducing American artists to Japan and vice versa. In addition...
Roentgenwerke AG - Art gallery: Bakurocho
[Open noon-6pm. Closed Wednesdays, Thursdays.]
This small gallery represents a roster of mostly Japanese contemporary artists, and puts on several exhibitions per year in their gallery space; check their website for details.
Makii Masaru Fine Arts - Art gallery: Asakusabashi
[Open noon-7pm. Closed Mondays.]
With multiple small showrooms spread out over two rather compact floors, Makii Masuru is a bit more spacious than most of the galleries in the area, and hosts some interesting group shows of international artists. They're located just north of the...
Kyu-Yasuda Garden - Park/garden: Ryogoku
[Open 9am-4:30pm (-6pm June-August) daily.]
This lovely public park was once the grounds of a feudal lord's residence in the late seventeenth century, and it was restored in 1927 after being destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake. The pond at the center of the park was originally fed by the...
Japanese Sword Museum - Museum: Ryogoku
[Open 9:30am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
This small museum will mostly be of interest to Japanese sword enthusiasts and collectors. The facility is run by the Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, and there are usually several dozen swords and other objects from their 190-piece...
NTT DoCoMo History Square - Museum: Ryogoku
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays.]
It's an entire museum devoted to old cellphones! The history and culture of mobile communication is the theme here, and visitors with an interest in Japanese industrial design can trace the evolution of mobile-phone fashions through the years. ...
Edo-Tokyo Museum - Museum: Ryogoku
[Open 9:30am-5:30pm (enter by 5pm; Saturdays -7:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
This excellent museum is devoted to the history of Tokyo, formerly known as Edo. Entering the museum via escalator from the third-floor plaza below is an inspiring experience - the massive structure seems to hover several stories over the plaza like...
Gallery MoMo Ryogoku - Art gallery: Ryogoku
[Open 11am-7pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays, holidays.]
Consisting of two large gallery spaces and a small library nook where you can look over artists' scrapbooks, MoMo puts on regular shows of their mostly Japanese contemporary artists. They also take part in international art fairs in Basel, Miami...
Sumida Hokusai Museum - Art museum: Ryogoku
[Open 9:30am-5:30pm (enter by 5pm). Closed Mondays.]
This lovely museum is devoted to the work of Katsushika Hokusai, Japan's most famous ukiyoe artist, who lived and worked for most of his life here in this traditional neighborhood. The wide-ranging permanent collection provides a good overview of...