Den-Den Town in Nipponbashi is Osaka’s answer to Tokyo’s Akihabara. It’s the city’s electronics, camera, computer, pop culture, games, and anime shopping neighborhood. Make the most of your time here with our comprehensive guide to Den-Den Town.
A view of Sakaisuji. - image © Florentyna Leow
Den-Den Town Guide Overview
Anime geeks and those in search of cameras, electronics and pop culture goods flock to Tokyo’s Akihabara (“Akiba”) neighborhood. But if you’re in Osaka and don’t want to travel all the Tokyo, there’s a solution: Visit Den-Den Town, which is West Japan’s answer to Akihabara.
Den-Den Town is a truncated form of “Denki no Machi,” or “Electric Town.” The neighbourhood is, in general, a superior alternative to Akihabara. For one, the shops are concentrated along two long, main streets: Nipponbashisuji Shopping Mall on Sakaisuji, and Ota Road which runs parallel. This makes it easy to navigate and find what you need. For another, it doesn’t see quite the same volume of foot traffic as its Tokyo counterpart. Everyone can relate to needing more breathing room when you’re shopping for figurines or keyboards! Many major anime and hobby stores found in Akihabara such as Mandarake, Animate, and Super Potato, can be found in Den-Den Town as well.
Collectible figurines in a glass case. - image © Florentyna Leow
Though electronics and anime merchandise does make up a sizeable part of the neighbourhood’s allure, there’s so much more to Den-Den Town than that. It’s a fantastic area to explore, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to this neighbourhood. Here’s what it covers:
- Getting To Den-Den Town
- Fun Things To Do In Den-Den Town
- Shopping in Den-Den Town
- What to Eat in Den-Den Town
- Den-Den Town Area Map
All the places mentioned in this article are shown on our comprehensive Den-Den Town map at the end of this article.
Inside an antique shop in Nipponbashi Shotenkai. - image © Florentyna Leow
Getting To Den-Den Town
From Nipponbashi Station: Take Exit 5. Once you’re above ground, walk south, passing by UCC Cafe Plaza and Tokiwa Camera on your right. Den-Den Town begins one block south. Continuing along the same road will take you along the main stretch of Nipponbashisuji Shopping Mall, one of the main arteries of Den-Den Town. Parallel to this to west (your right when coming from the station) is Ota Road, which is the other main street for Den-Den Town.
From Ebisucho Station: Take Exit 2 or 5. Once you’re above ground, head north。After 5 minutes or so, you’ll be on the main stretch of Nipponbashisuji Shopping Mall. To get to Ota Road, keep walking north until Nippombashi 4-Chome. Turn left and walk for two blocks. Turn right and you’ll be on Ota Road.
From Namba Station: Walking eastwards from the South exit of Namba Station will bring you to to the top of Den-Den Town in about 5 minutes - you’ll walk past Taito Station, Daiso, and Namco on your way there.
Cosplayers at Nipponbashi Street Festa © Japanexperterna.se
Fun Things to Do in Den-Den Town
Watch a cosplay parade
Watch a cosplay parade
If you can time your vacation right, one of the coolest, most interesting experiences you can have in Den-Den Town is attending the Nipponbashi Street Festa. Taking place annually on the spring equinox (or the Sunday prior), cosplayers show up in the thousands dressed as their favourite anime or manga characters. Many are casual hobbyists, but there are just as many who are serious about their cosplay craft. They’re generally happy to be photographed, too! Costumed revellers aside, live music and street performances round off a day of vibrant, energetic festivities. Go if you can.
At JPY1000 and JPY2000 respectively, these gachapon are more expensive than normal ones, which cost about JPY100-400 each. - image © Florentyna Leow
Snag some swag from the gachapon machines
Few things provide more instant gratification in the land of vending machines than gachapon. These are the little machines you’ll see in front of almost every shop in Den-Den Town, dispensing capsules containing kooky, creative little toys and tchotchkes. You’ll find anything and everything here: kabuki mask keychains, Sailormoon accessories, tiny humanoid figures you can prop on your coffee cups. For the shops, it’s an efficient and clever way to maximise and monetise retail real estate; for consumers, it’s an inexpensive, incredibly fun game of chance where you’re guaranteed a joy-sparking prize. Win-win!
A UFO Catcher claw game in Den-Den Town. - image © Florentyna Leow
Test out your crane game skills
Do you like the thrill of gaming the system? Challenge yourself and try beating a claw machine. You might even win a limited-edition toy! Of course, the real prize is the fun you’ll have trying to win a rigged game. It’s a great way to spend some time (and cash) at the arcade. Game Taito Station has a number of crane games, and you’ll find individual machines in other shops around Den-Den Town, like Animate or K-Books.
Inside a card shop. - image © Florentyna Leow
Play a card game or three
Whether you’re a Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering player, you’ll find a space for you in this part of town. Card shops like Yellow Submarine, Big Magic, and Dragon Star sell cards for a wide variety of games from Victory Spark to Yu-Gi-Oh!. Stocks vary by shop - Yellow Submarine #3, for instance, is best for deck boxes and storage boxes - so you’ll have to poke around several before you find what you’re looking for. A few also have playing spaces, making it a great place to spend a few hours.
A wall of wigs. - image © Florentyna Leow
Change your hair color
Tired of your natural hair color but not quite ready to take the plunge? If you’ve ever wanted to know what you look like with a full head of pink, green, or blue, you should try on a wig at Assist Cosplay, the go-to shop in Den-Den Town for those transforming into fictional characters. The shop wall is lined with wigs along the entire rainbow-coloured spectrum. Ask the staff to help you with putting it on. Go wild!
The entrance to Nipponbashi Shotenkai on Ota Road. - image © Florentyna Leow
Explore Nipponbashi Shotenkai
Often overlooked by area guides, this is a small warren of shops and cafes located between Ota Road and Sakaisuji Road around the Nippombashi 5-chome block. It’s a real taste of Showa-era Japan in here. Many shops have been open for decades, helmed by the same individual or couple owners; some are shuttered or are only open at odd hours. You’ll find tiny cafes and bars (we like Tidy Cafe), antique shops, secondhand recycle shops, and hardware shops, among others. Hunt for curios, stock up on pliers and screwdrivers, or just chat to people.
Maidreamin, one of the maid cafes in town. - image © Florentyna Leow
Visit a themed cafe
Akihabara is might be maid cafe mecca, but Den-Den Town doesn’t exactly lose out on that front. Get your dose of high-voltage cute from any one of the maid cafes here, like Maidreamin, Cococha, or Cafe Doll. As a bonus, the queues here are bound to be shorter or non-existent on weekdays, unlike in Tokyo!
The entrance to Aruru. - image © Florentyna Leow
Other themed cafes in the area include Princess Cafe, an anime-themed space featuring frequently changing merchandise and culinary collaborations with popular anime franchises; and Aruru ~Animal Girls~, a cuddle cafe where patrons have cuddle sessions with their chosen staff member.
English-language guidelines for Aruru』s services. - image © Florentyna Leow
On the surface, at least, cuddle cafes aim to address in part the lack of access to intimacy many have today. While strictly for adults, it is also intended to be platonic: they emphasise the ban on sex or kissing, so don’t expect a happy ending of any sort. If you do go, definitely don’t be sleazy about it.
Karaoke at Namco. - image © Florentyna Leow
Sing your heart out
Karaoke is almost mandatory on a visit to Japan. If you need a singing session in Den-Den Town, Belt out your joys and frustrations at a place like Karaoke Rainbow Namco. From the Beatles to the latest AKB48 pop hits, they have you covered. You can even rent costumes to enact your anime idol fantasies while you sing.
Inside this Lawson’s. - image © Florentyna Leow
Visit the Dragon Quest-themed Lawson
Even the convenience stores in Den-Den Town stand out. Lawson’s here will have Dragon Quest fans delighted. The whole store is covered in character murals, and they sell themed merchandise. When you walk in to the store there’s even a little pinging sound effect, as though you’re in the game! I don’t play the game, but walked in and out several times just to experience that.
Browsing shelves of manga. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shopping in Den-Den Town
Stock up on secondhand manga and doujinshi
If you can read manga in Japanese - or plan to learn Japanese by reading manga - Den-Den Town’s manga superstores are a must-visit. Major manga chain stores Animate, K-Books, and Toranoana all have outposts here. Melon Books has plenty of doujinshi (fan comics) too, albeit on the rather risque, adult side.
A delightful selection of Copic markers. - image © Florentyna Leow
Feed your inner manga artist
Feeling inspired by all the manga you’ve been reading? It’s time to take the next step: Pick up some art supplies and start drawing some manga of your own. The Animate building has a drool-worthy selection of Copic markers and ink to get you started on what might be the next hit manga.
Character keychains. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hunt down anime-related merchandise
Books aside, Den-Den Town is a great place to find everything anime-related you might want. You could build a super figurine collection through secondhand shopping alone here. Otherwise, there are posters, badges, clear files, key chains, notebooks... the sky’s the limit. Animate is the obvious choice, but don’t forget to look around at all the other stores, too.
Inside Super Potato. - image © Florentyna Leow
Look for the retro games of your childhood
Dreaming of the days when you still had consoles and GameBoys? Super Potato is the ultimate place to track down the games of your childhood. With Nintendo character soft toys adorning the entrance and analogue 8-bit music playing in the background, Super Potato triggers tsunami-sized waves of nostalgia for members of a certain generation the moment you walk in. Browse their massive, wide-ranging selection of retro games, consoles, and peripherals. It can be bewildering for the non-Japanese speaker, but that’s all part of the charm.
The entrance to Super Kids Land. - image © Florentyna Leow
Make some models
Hobby enthusiasts have come to the right place: Den-Den Town is home to Volks Hobby Square and Super Kids Land, both of which are stocked top to bottom with Japanese-made toys and models. There’s something for every conceivable model-maker: trains, cars, robots, boats, tanks, and more. Whether you’re a serious maker or just starting out, you’re sure to find something you love.
Pagers and buzzers at a shop. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shop for cheap electronics
This is the place in Osaka to hunt for bargains on electronics. Laptops, USB cables, 2-for-1 mouse deals, flat screen TVs - you name it, they have it. Esoteric finds include an entire shop dedicated to pagers, and another to karaoke machines. Larger stores like Sofmap and Joshin have tax-free shopping for tourists, but you can negotiate discounts at the smaller, independent retailers that might end up saving you more than 8% on consumer tax. You decide!
Secondhand kimono at Kimono-ya. - image © Florentyna Leow
Pick up secondhand kimono
Wander into the small maze of streets in Nipponbashi Shotenkai, and you’ll stumble across two shops selling secondhand traditional Japanese clothing and related accoutrements - kimono, haori jackets, obi, and the like. I personally liked the smaller Recycle Kimono Ueda Iryoten リサイクルきもの植田衣料店 shop. Strike up a conversation with the affable Ueda-san and he might just give you a discount when you pick up a pair of gorgeous hakama trousers.
Inside one of the area’s many record shops. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hunt down vintage records, CDs, and DVDs
Digital streaming might be the norm these days, but our collective nostalgia keeps the media formats of yesteryear alive. Den-Den Town has several shops specialising in vintage records across various genres like jazz, soul, rock, and hip-hop - a goldmine for the record enthusiast, especially as stock tends to be in excellent condition. We particularly like Disk J.J. and MINT Record.
A shop dedicated to karaoke machines. - image © Florentyna Leow
Invest in a karaoke machine
Love belting your heart out but hate the thought of going out and paying for it? Buy a karaoke machine so you can be the own star of your show without having to step foot outside your house. Some of these machines are even portable, so you could schlep one to Tennoji Park and join some of the men you see there doing public karaoke sessions.
The entrance to Nobunaga Shoten. - image © Florentyna Leow
Browse a selection of “love toys”
Much like Akihabara, Den-Den Town is home to a few shops with a wide selection of gadgets and goods we’ll euphemistically refer to as “love toys.” Two great places to check out are the successful and iconic Tenga shop on Ota Road, and the LGBTQ-friendly superstore Nobunaga Shoten on Sakaisuji. The latter has signs in English and Chinese, and even offers tax-free shopping. At the very least, it’s great browsing and marvelling at the way capitalism can cater to pretty much every niche desire out there.
Secondhand washing machines for sale. - image © Florentyna Leow
Furnish your apartment
This is for those of you who have just moved to Osaka and need to kit out your apartment. With plenty of recycle shops and electronics and hardware stores in the area, and Kitchen Street just around the corner, you can probably furnish most of your living space in a day here. Whether it’s washing machines, saucepans, or a desk lamp, you’re likely to find what you need in Den-Den Town.
Outside DenDen Land. - image © Florentyna Leow
Load up on cosmetics
Thanks to the influx of tourists from the Asian mainland spending on Japanese cosmetics, drugstores have mushroomed across Osaka in the last few years. You wouldn’t need to visit Den-Den Town just to buy face masks and toner, but if you happen to be around anyway, Super DenDen Land Joshin is the place to finish up your beauty shopping.
Gun Shop Gurkha stocks all kinds of cool rifles. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shoot your shot
If you’re gunning for a new hobby, you might want to check out the one and only Gun Shop Gurkha. You couldn’t kill anyone with the goods here, thank goodness, but you can buy model guns, gas guns, electric guns, and other accessories for playing survival games.
A pudding shop on Ota Road. - image © Florentyna Leow
Eating in Den-Den Town
There are plenty of restaurants in the area, far more than a single guide can adequately cover. Turkish ice cream? Pudding? Taiwanese food? This place has it all, and if it doesn’t, you just have to walk a few minutes over to Namba or Dotombori. The following just begins to scratch the surface.
Curry shop Eito is one of several in the area. - image © Florentyna Leow
Eat delicious curry
Den-Den Town is home to a number of great curry shops - fantastic for hearty, cheap and cheerful lunches to power you through the rest of your shopping day. Popular shops like Pommier - which serves great set lunches, not just curry - see queues a-plenty, but other restaurants like Jotoh and Madras are great, too.
Sanpomen is one of many ramen shops in the neighbourhood. - image © Florentyna Leow
Slurp some ramen
If you’re not in the mood for curry, ramen makes an equally tasty and inexpensive option. Luckily, there’s no shortage of those restaurants here either. Whether it’s the light but deeply-flavoured shoyu ramen at Tensho or abura soba (oil noodles) at Kirinji Sohonten, there’s a delicious bowl in the neighbourhood waiting for you.
Kikuya is a great place to buy sake. - image © Florentyna Leow
Sip on and shop for sake
Right next to Assist Cosplay is Kikuya Shuhan, which specialises entirely in sake. Drinking enthusiasts should make it a point to stop by and browse their excellent, comprehensive selection of sake from all over the nation. Besides sake, they also have shochu, Okinawan awamori, umeshu (plum wine), and even some Japanese wines and whiskies. Those needing a little pick-me-up can buy single servings from the refrigerator near the entrance.
Seafood displays in Kuromon Market. - image © Florentyna Leow
Snack your way through nearby Kuromon Market
If you didn’t already have enough to occupy you for an entire day in Den-Den Town, Kuromon Market is located a hop and a skip away. This means you’re never more than a 10-15 minute walk away from delicious snacks in Osaka’s biggest food market. Check out our one day Osaka eating itinerary for more tips on what you can eat there - and more importantly, what you should eat there.
Den-Den Town Map
The Den-Den Town map shows each of the locations mentioned, plus more. You can view a full screen version too.
About the author: Florentyna Leow is a writer and photographer based in Tokyo. When she's not eating or roaming the streets for food, she can be found with a book and pen in hand. Her work has appeared in Lucky Peach, Roads & Kingdoms, and Kyoto Journal. Her newsletter can be found here and her photographs can be found at @furochan_eats, @doorwaysofasia, and @lovemeleafme on Instagram.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
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