When you think of Tokyo and its renowned geek districts like Akihabara and Ikebukuro, anime and video games may be the first things that come to mind. But that’s only half of the truth. I found that Tokyo is also one of the best places in the world for Warhammer, GUNPLA, and plastic model kits in general.
In the following video, dive deep into the unchartered realms of otaku Tokyo, revealing my top seven hobby spots you have to visit on your next trip, plus a few more tips and shopping advice along the way:
A GoogleMaps list with all the locations in this video can be found at the bottom of this post.
1. Warhammer Store & Café Tokyo
Our first stop takes us to the beating heart of Tokyo’s otaku culture – Akihabara! And here, we find the Warhammer Café, Tokyo’s brand new Games Workshop flagship store that opened in December 2022.
The 41st millennium blends into reality here, thanks to the atmospheric gothic interior design with an enormous screen running the latest Warhammer+ animations. The shop is huge by Japanese standards and crammed with display cabinets of beautifully painted miniatures from the Japanese community, gaming tables, and of course, Warhammer kits galore. In addition to the main range, there are also many Forge World models available, as well as various merchandise such as art prints and shirts, which can usually only be found at Warhammer World in Nottingham. Despite the low yen, however, Warhammer prices in Japan are significantly higher than in Europe and the US. So it’s more rewarding to visit the shop for the great displays, to have a game, or to indulge in one of the delicious “Wrath of Caliban” pistachio iced lattes.
More Warhammer stores in Tokyo
By the way, there are many more official Warhammer stores in Tokyo. For example in Harajuku, in a side alley of the famous Takashita Street. These stores tend to be rather small and hardly different from Warhammer stores as you know them in Europe and the UK. But, as Takashita Street is a must-visit on every Tokyo trip for its bubbly atmosphere and vibrant Harajuku fashion scene, why not drop by when you’re in the area.
2. Hobby shops in Radio Kaikan
Now, just a stone’s throw away from the Warhammer Café, we have Radio Kaikan, a paradise for collectors and hobbyists alike. This iconic 10-storey shopping complex is basically otaku Akihabara in a nutshell. Anime goods, figures, trading cards, vintage toys, idol merch, electronic gadgets, and, of course, GUNPLA and scale-modelling supplies – all under one roof.
amiami on the 4th floor specialises mainly in anime character goods, but also has a GUNPLA and scale modelling section. The selection is not quite as large as the other hobby stores in Radio Kaikan, but the basics are all there, and the prices are a bit lower than in the other stores.
Yellow Submarine on the 6th floor has an entire floor dedicated to the model building hobby in all its facets, plus board games and role-playing games, mainly in Japanese language though. They have a huge selection of Japanese hobby brands, a variety of GUNPLA, mecha and military kits, as well as a small booth with Citadel paints and Warhammer products. It’s a must-visit destination for hobbyists looking for unique and specialized supplies, plus, they play Beatles tunes all day.
Last but not least, we have Volks Hobby Square on the 8th floor, a store that caters to a wide range of hobbies, including scale modelling, doll-making, and miniature gaming. This store offers a diverse selection of kits, paints, and tools, and what sets it apart is that they stock Vallejo paints as well as Fantasy and sci-fi miniatures from smaller independent studios and sculptors.
So, whether you’re a model builder, a figure collector, or simply a passionate pop culture enthusiast, Radio Kaikan is a must-visit spot. If you have only limited time for Akihabara in your itinerary, make sure to spend it here.
3. Life-size Gundam Unicorn Statue
I’ll share some more tips for Akihabara below, but next, we head to the mesmerising district of Odaiba on the other side of the bay. Just in front of Diver City mall, stands the awe-inspiring life-size Gundam Unicorn statue. Witness the sheer magnificence of this colossal mecha as it comes to life every hour, changing from Unicorn to Destroy mode.
I recommend coming here in the evening hours when it’s dark to catch the spectacular light show accompanied by old Gundam opening songs and anime visuals projected onto the mall. Next to the statue, you’ll also find a small open-air stage where sometimes free promo concerts by idol and pop groups take place, so maybe you’ll be lucky.
When you’re done admiring the statue, step inside Diver City Tokyo Plaza mall and explore the Gundam Base, an enormous flagship store for all things Gundam. Get your hands on exclusive GUNPLA kits, marvel at stunning displays, and plunge into the rich history of the Gundam franchise. Make sure to check the calendar on their website as the exhibitions in the event area change every now and then.
Lifesize RX-78-2 in Yokohama
By the way, you can find the counterpart to the Gundam Unicorn statue at Gundam Factory in Yokohama. Yokohama is only a 30 to 40 minutes train ride away from central Tokyo, so if you’re a Gundam fan make sure to cram it into your itinerary. At Gundam Factory, you’ll find more exclusive kits and merch, and you can marvel at the life-size RX-78-2, which is even more articulated than the Unicorn statue. And there’s also a Warhammer store nearby, though check the opening times beforehand as it’s not open every day.
4. Evangelion & Sailor Moon dioramas in Small Worlds
Odaiba has a plethora of tourist-worthy spots and activities to enjoy, like the Teamlab Borderless exhibition, LEGO discovery centre, Joypolis VR indoor theme park, or the retro Showa-era floor in the Decks mall.
But a must-see for every miniature and scale modelling enthusiast is the Small Worlds exhibition, an immersive attraction featuring meticulously crafted miniature diorama worlds. Prepare to spend hours as you explore lifelike landscapes and famous landmarks on a miniature scale. There are various displays such as a replica of Kansai airport with planes taking off and landing and a futuristic space center, but most exciting for all anime and pop culture geeks are certainly the Neon Genesis Evangelion and Sailor Moon areas. There is one room with an underground hangar launching EVAs, and another with a huge diorama of Neo Tokyo III complete with retracting buildings and a day and night cycle. The Sailor Moon display is inspired by 90s-era Tokyo and full of easter eggs, featuring iconic locations from the cult anime such as the Game Center, Hikawa Shrine, and Dead Moon Circus, as well as a display of Crystal Tokyo.
Small Worlds offers a unique opportunity to experience beloved anime and real-life settings in a whole new way, transporting you into a captivating miniature universe.
5. Little Cave board game café & Nakano Broadway
And when you need a break from all that shopping and sightseeing, why not relax the afternoon away with a board game and a hot bewerage? There are quite a few board game cafés sprinkled throughout Tokyo, and the good thing is that many board games that are released in Japan are actually the international versions, just with an additional Japanese game manual. So chances are you will find a lot of English-language games to play. The most popular board game cafes are probably the Jelly Jelly Cafés, of which there are three branches.
But just a few train stops away from Nakano Broadway, we find Little Cave in Koenji. It’s a super chill board game café with not only a deep selection of over 2000 games, but also adorable and very instagrammable meeple-shaped waffles.
As in all Japanese board game cafés, you pay a seating fee per person, plus you have to order at least one drink. If you play for 3 to 5 hours, the fee caps at 2000 yen, and if you want to play all day, you pay no more than 3000 Yen. You can also enjoy typical café food like omurice and burgers, and choose from soft drinks to hot beverages and alcohol. The only downside is that the staff doesn’t really speak English and the menu is in Japanese as well, as it’s often the way in non-touristy establishments. But with the camera function of the GoogleTranslate app, I found this was not a big problem, and with very simple Japanese phrases like “kore wo kudasai” while pointing to the menu item you want, you should have no problems as the staff is patient. And as I said, there are a lot of English- and even German-language games to satisfy your gaming cravings.
Mandarake Kujosen in Nakano Broadway
And when you take the train to Koenji from central Tokyo, make sure to stop at Nakano Station and head to Nakano Broadway. The sprawling multi-level complex is a labyrinth of shops, but it’s the 30, yes, you heard it right, 30 Mandarake stores that truly steal the spotlight. Each of the little shops specializes in a unique niche, offering a diverse range of GUNPLA and model kits, vintage toys, figures, anime goods, old and new manga and anime, video games, and rare memorabilia, just to name a few. But most importantly, don’t miss the small Mandarake on the topmost floor specialised in miniatures, RPGs and board games. Here you can uncover vintage and rare Warhammer and even Rackham miniatures, albeit at collectors prices.
6. Largest scale modelling aisle in Yodobashi Akiba
Welcome back to Akihabara. There are plenty more hobby shops to discover in this geek mecca district, below you’ll find a list of many more hobby shops in Tokyo I can recommend. Let me know in the comments below if you know a good spot that’s not featured here, so I can put it on the list.
But one more shop I would like to highlight is Yodobashi Akiba, right by the train station. Yodobashi Camera is one of the largest consumer electronics chains in Japan, and the 6th floor of the Akihabara branch is wholly dedicated to toys and games. Japanese toy aisles are next level, you’ll find an extensive selection of high-end action figures like S.H. Figuarts, Nendoroids and statues, alongside an impressive array of PLAMO kits and supplies.
From GUNPLA to mecha to military and contemporary kits, at Yodobashi Akiba you will find all your favourite Japanese brands like Tamiya, Mr Hobby, GodHand, and more; paints, tools, airbrush supplies, as well as a large selection of Games Workshop products and Citadel paints. The prices are usually lower than in the smaller hobby stores in Akihabara, and from a purchase of over 5,050 yen you can shop tax-free, which means you save another 10% in addition to benefitting from the low Japanese yen. In some cases, I have saved half compared to purchasing in Europe! Just remember that you may not take solvent-based paints and varnishes and spray cans on the plane.
Tax free shopping at Japenese electronic chains
In fact, each of the larger branches of the Japanese electronics chains BIC Camera, LABI and Yodobashi usually have a whole floor dedicated to toys. They’ll all have a small section with GUNPLA and scale models, as well as a basic supply of modeling accessories and paints. Of all three chains, LABI has the lowest prices in my experience, while BIC Camera was usually a bit more expensive. At LABI and also BIC, at the time of the video, as a tourist you even get an extra 5% discount on top of the 10% tax free. But none can beat the selection at Yodobashi in Akihabara!
7. Softair meets bar at Trigger Happy Café
If you’re looking for a distinctive and unforgettable night out in Akihabara to cap off your day of hobbying, be sure to pay a visit to Military Cafe Trigger Happy. It’s a one-of-a-kind destination that combines the thrill of airsoft with the enjoyment of a cozy bar atmosphere. Like in a lot of Japanese concept cafés or bars, they have a table fee and an all you can drink flat rate system for which you pay a quite reasonable hourly rate (drinks are a bit watery though). But the real highlight of Trigger Happy Cafe is of course its shooting range, where you can try your hand at various airsoft replicas in a safe environment – no bolters, lasguns or beam rifles though. Test your aim, precision, and reflexes with either electronic or paper targets.
While the menu is in English, the English language skills of the staff are a bit lacking. But don’t sweat, with the Google Translate app and a few words of Japanese I had no problems communicating, and the introduction to the shooting range also works without words, just… nod and smile.
You can also buy a cheki as a souvenir, which is a polaroid you can take with one of the staff members, who will then decorate it with little drawings and stickers. As there is no tipping in Japan, this is a great way to appreciate the service, plus an amazing memorabilia as well. My pro tip: Make sure to check the back of the menu, which has combo packages of one hour drinking, a round of playing, and a checki on top.
Conclusion & list of locations
And that concludes our exhilarating tour of otaku Tokyo, but our journey doesn’t end here! Tokyo is a city that continues to evolve, with new hobby spots and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here is a list of all the spots covered in this post, plus a few more extra locations I can recommend:
If you come across any exciting Warhammer, GUNPLA or PLAMO places I haven’t mentioned, be sure to share them in the comments below so I can add them to the list.
If you can’t make it to Tokyo anytime soon, a few online stores we can recommend are our 🇬🇧/🇪🇺 partner stores Wayland Games, Element Games, and Firestorm Games, at 🇩🇪 Taschengelddieb, and 🇺🇸 Noble Knight Games, which all offer Warhammer (and in case of Wayland Games also GUNPLA) products a welcome discount of up to 20% over RRP. Using our links supports Tale of Painters with no extra cost to you.
Thanks a lot, and happy hobbying.