Don't be a baka, be kawaii: The ultimate itinerary for anime fans in Japan

2019-01-14 20:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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If you know your Miyazaki from your Kishimoto and want to revel in Japan's anime culture, this itinerary is a must for any fan.

Even if you're not a hardcore fan, these spots that celebrate one of the country's biggest exports guarantee a lot of fun and unique experiences that will feel out of this world.

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You can explore more of the world of Hayao Miyazaki - Japan's version of Walt Disney - or dive into the kawaii world of Hello Kitty and action-packed amusement parks.

You can also hunt for some elusive Pokemon in their country of birth - whether it be digitally or in one of the big anime shopping districts of Tokyo.

Whatever your heart burns for, these are must-do itinerary items for any anime fan.

Ghibli Museum

Until the new Ghibli amusement park opens in 2022, you can satiate your Totoro and Howl cravings at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo's Inokashira Park.

Here you can explore the history of Miyazaki's famous studio and discover how they brought your favourite anime films to life - as well as fill up your souvenir bag with merch. 

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Pokémon Centre Mega Tokyo

In the game and anime series, a Pokémon Centre was where you took your Pokémon to get healed, but in Japan it's a massive store dedicated to Pikachu and his furry friends.

Besides the merchandise, it also has life-size Pokémon statues, including a Pikachu riding a massive Charmander - because that seems plausible.

Tokyo One Piece Tower

This indoor theme park is completely dedicated to the One Piece manga-turned-anime and hosts not only themed attractions but also One Piece-inspired shows.

There are also arcade games, lots of photo opportunities with your favourite characters and a horror house.

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Akihabara District

If you ask anyone where to go if you love anime, everyone will point you towards Akihabara District in Tokyo. It's filled with shops devoted to manga and anime, as well as electronics and video games.

Also popular in the area are maid cafes where waitresses could be dressed up as your favourite anime characters. You can also do anime-specific tours through the district, to help you find the best shops.

Sanrio Puroland

Hello Kitty might not be pure anime, but the cat-like little girl is a famous Japanese cartoon character that's so popular it was even appointed as the UN World Tourism Organisation's special ambassador for sustainable tourism in 2017.

For the most extra Hello Kitty experience, you can't go wrong with a trip to Sanrio Puroland in Tama, an indoor theme park the celebrates all things pink and cute - or you can just try to grab one of her themed bullet trains.

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Dogo Onsen

Not only is the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, its wooden Honkan bathhouse also served as the inspiration for Miyazaki's highest grossing film - Spirited Away. 

You will get the royal treatment at this 3 Michelin Stars establishment as well as feel like you're visiting the cursed bathhouse of the witch Yubaba - at least you'll leave with your name intact.

Giant Gundam Robot

If you want to feel like you're in an anime, you should definitely head to Tokyo Bay for some photos with the 20-metre giant Gundam Robot.

And it's not just a static statue - it shoots smoke and lasers at night, and can move its arms and head - and nearby is Gundam Base Tokyo which serves as the cultural and commercial centre for the franchise.

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Suginami Animation Museum

This is the place to be if you want to learn more about Japanese animation's history, how it's done, special exhibits on animators and an extensive library of anime classics. 

Admission is free and you can even practice your own drawings on their light tables.

Various character-themed cafés

It's hard to pinpoint which anime themed café is a must-visit in Japan, just because there's so many. From Fairy Tail to Naruto to Doraemon, there's a theme for everything. The best way to select ones to visit is to make a short list of the animes you like and see if there are cafés dedicated to them, most of which will be in Tokyo.

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Fujiko F Fujio Museum

This museum in Kawasaki is dedicated to the creator of Doraemon - the time travelling robot cat. The museum has playgrounds, reading spaces, an exhibit of Fujio's personal life and a theatre that plays an original Doraemon animation not seen anywhere else.

Satsuki and Mei's House

Ghibli fans will revel in this perfect replica of Satsuki and Mei's house from My Neighbour Totoro. It's situated in Aichi Expo Park near Nagoya.

It is advised to buy tickets beforehand - whether or not you'll bump into Totoro is all up to you.

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Fuji-Q Highland

While this amusement park in Fujiyoshida doesn't solely focus on anime themes, there are rides and exhibits that pay homage to famous franchises. Its permanent attractions include Evangelion: World - an interactive anime exhibit where you can place yourself in the classic franchise - and Mizuki Shigeru's Ge-Ge-Ge Haunted Mansion - a 3D-sound experience modelled after the manga franchise.

If you happen to visit during or after spring 2019 in Japan (March to May), the park will also have a special 3D shooting ride, arcade games and shops modelled after Naruto and its sequel Boruto.

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