When gamers think of electronics and video game shopping in Japan, most people name Tokyo’s Akihabara as its epitome. However, not many may know that Osaka, Japan, has an Akihabara equivalent named Den-Den Town.
Much like Akihabara, Den-Den Town is chock full of otaku goodness. Just a few years ago, one could actually count the number of video game and figure specialty shops on one hand but now it seems to have experienced a growth explosion.
Den-Den Town (Nipponbashi) is short for Denki no Machi (which means Electric Town in Japanese) and as a place that was once famous for its variety of consumer electronic stores, it has quickly become an otaku paradise to rival the mighty Akihabara. The streets and alleys of Den-Den Town have come to house an influx of maid cafes, video game store and anime/manga related establishments.
The 1 kilometer stretch that makes up Den-Den has a little something to offer everyone as it also harbors quite a few network cafes that stock massage apparatuses.
Lining the main streets and lacing the small alleys, any eager fan will find it relatively simple to stumble upon a used video game store complete with blaring music and a plethora of flashing monitors advertising the latest games to hit the shelves.
The figure fan is also not to fret as just as many figure shops have hatched from the streets of Den-Den Town as there are video game stores. Even the popular anime goods store known as Animate seems to have found a spot in these busy streets and showers locals with over 4 floors of paraphernalia.
Another notoriety associated with Akihabara is the young costumed Japanese girls who litter the streets passing out advertisement to their maid cafes. Traveling in and out of the alleys of Den-Den Town will find explorers amid a variety of young girls dressed in miniskirt kimonos and frilled maid outfits armed with colorful hand-outs and painfully cute smiles that effectively tempt you into their respective establishments.
Even though Den-Den’s backdrop is a concrete jungle that doesn’t leave for much sunlight to brighten its streets, most every building dresses itself with enormous anime-related advertisements that will literally have you gawking with your mouth open in order to be able to view its immensity. Since I’m not used to seeing it very often, something about seeing huge banners that advertise the latest video games just gives me a run of the otaku chills.
All in all, Den-Den Town’s major advantages over Akihabara is that it can still be considered a hidden gem (which saves it from the sweaty, unwashed masses) and most of the stores boast incredibly competitive pricing. If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit Osaka, you had better be sure to mark this little spot on your tourist map.