When venturing to Tokyo this past September for TGS 2013, I stopped by Akihabara to take a few pictures and give my impressions of the legendary Otaku paradise. I left feeling underwhelmed and lost among the confusing alleys and lack of interesting shops. The towering buildings blanketed in banners of the latest hit anime above me looked promising, but were a little too commercial for what I have in mind when exploring these places.
I attributed part of my disappointment to already being a fan of DenDen Town, a similarly styled and far less famous sect of Osaka dedicated to the exact same thing Akihabara is known for: an anime, video game, and tech geek’s dream come true. Would you believe me if I told you it was better?
Two long streets, that’s all that makes up DenDen Town. Adventurers with a specific shopping agenda in mind no longer have to tangle through back alley shops or get lost among the downtown mayhem. DenDen Town might not have the wide selection of stores that Akihabara has, but its layout efficiently lays out its stores in a series of single file lines, making finding what you are looking for that much easier.
DenDen Town is perfect for those who don’t want to dig deep and would rather pop their heads in for a few minutes at a few random places. When I take the plunge and decide to spend an hour or so in DenDen Town, one of my select target stores is guaranteed to have what I am looking for.
It’s cutting the fat off the delicious meat. Everything in DenDen Town is in the clear and open, even the amazing Turkish kebab restaurant where they literally cut the fat right off the meat in front of your face. Plus, the ice cream is awesome too.
Like Akihabara, DenDen Town is home to a Super Potato, four of them in fact! Two of the Super Potatoes are a general kind of store with products ranging from all eras of video game history, but it’s the Super Potato Retro which fascinates me the most. Everything old is new again once you step into this paradise.
Pixelated Final Fantasy characters decorate the ceilings. Retro game intros from the NES and SEGA Saturn provide the music and visual entertainment. Even old magazine cutouts pave the floors. It’s paradise for those who love digging up old treasures from their favorite generation of consoles
Of course, actually buying something in Super Potato is crazy, because it can often be found cheaper in another store or on the Internet.
Apart from Super Potato, I also like A-Too, mostly because it has a more modern spin and even selling “import games,” meaning I can buy games from America. Region free gaming is still an issue with the Wii and Xbox 360.
Maid cafes, gaming shops, hobby shops, home appliances, junk computer parts. DenDen Town has it all. It doesn’t have the illustrious skyscrapers of Akihabara, but the sole tall building, an Animate book shop, provides enough of the commercialized manga shopping you could ask for. Then again, who needs five or six buildings filled with the same books?
Animate is a gathering place for events on new releases, voice actors and artists stopping by to do signings, and a place to play the latest hit card games.
Ah, Yotsuba&! My recommendation. If only writer Kiyohiko Azuma could make books faster.
I’ll be honest, though, having it on my home turf may sway my bias by a large margin, but then again, its relatively easy location has given me the chance to explore it more thoroughly. I’ve even had the opportunity to go to several cosplay parades, which line-up perfectly with the Osaka Spring Sumo Tournament with the stadium just a two minute walk away!
I like convenient shopping, and I would gladly sacrifice the overhyped “mystique” of being in Akihabara for being actually able to find what I am looking for. DenDen Town tosses aside all the excess and is just simply a more enjoyable open place to be. And when you are finished, the Namba Parks Shopping Mall is where you can get Osaka’s most delicious burger, Kua Aina Hawaiian Hamburgers.
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