Nintendojo in Japan, Part 1: Tokyo

Check out Nintendojo’s recommendations of must-see places and things to do in Tokyo for gamers!

By Angela Marrujo Fornaca. Posted 01/08/2024 01:29 Comment on this     ShareThis

Welcome to our Nintendojo in Japan series, where Senior Editor Angela guides us through Japan from the vantage point of a lover of Japanese culture and a gamer, manga, and anime fan. For this first installment, Angela guides us through Tokyo!

When I was a kid, I fell in love with Japan. I’m not sure exactly what it was that drew me in so young, but I have early memories of watching the local Asian TV station KTSF (channel 26), which had a variety of mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese programming throughout the day. I remember watching the undubbed, original episodes of Iron Chef and making my grandma sit and watch with me — the absolute saint that she was — despite neither of us able to understand Japanese. I just liked the food and the spectacle, and the antics and costumes of Chairman Kaga. I’d also sit and watch other Japanese cooking shows when they came on and thought the food looked delicious.

Eventually I branched out to watching things I could understand, like the English dub of Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network, then the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! animes. I of course grew up playing a ton of video games. And my uncle, who also has a great appreciation for Japanese culture, helped foster my own as I got older and could value the parts of it beyond just games and anime. So it was from a pretty early age that I decided that one day, I was going to make it to Japan.


It took quite some time, but I was finally able to make that a reality this past October, when my husband and I took a two-week trip to Japan to celebrate our belated honeymoon and one-year wedding anniversary. We went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama, Nara, Hakone, and Himeji, and it was the most incredible two weeks of my life. And now I’m ready to share some of it with our readers.

In this three-part series, I’m going to dive into the places that I think you guys might find especially interesting as gamers and Nintendo fans and should consider checking out if you ever take your own trip to Japan. In our first entry, we’ll be heading to the capital city of the country: Tokyo.



The first stop on our journey through Japan has to be in Akihabara. There’s a reason why it’s been a recommended destination for gamers and anime fans for decades. From shops galore to cafes, arcades, and more, there’s something for everyone here. These are some of the places we went that were especially cool.

Akihabara Radio Kaikan

This iconic, multilevel structure houses multiple independent shops selling gaming, anime, and manga collectibles, both new and used. The used sellers were especially interesting to me, because they had things that were either never sold outside of Japan or were vintage and hard to come by.

I knew nothing about Radio Kaikan before going in, so I was surprised to stumble upon the amiami store inside, which I was vaguely familiar with as an online store for collectibles. The sheer amount of product available here was incredible, but I was more blown away by how cheap many of the blind boxes were compared to here at home in the U.S. If you’re lucky enough to live near shops that sell Japanese imports, like many shops do in Japantown in San Francisco (which is very close to where I live in the Bay Area), you’ve likely been hit with sticker shock at the markups. Around here, they usually go for anywhere from $25-$35 a box. At amiami, they averaged about ¥800-¥1200 for the ones that I bought. (Which, for the current exchange rate of yen, was about five bucks and some change on the lower end to around eight and some change.)


While I had to control myself (there was only so much room in my luggage), I got some great blind boxes, like the Re-Ment Pokémon Bonsai 2 figures; there were only three left, and I got the ones I wanted, which included Lugia, Growlithe, and Squirtle. Unfortunately, I didn’t get Pikachu, but I have Pikachu from the first lineup in the series, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

There are Gacha machines quite literally everywhere around Japan and especially in the major cities, and Radio Kaikan was no exception. I got one of the coolest souvenirs of my entire trip in a Gacha machine outside amiami, right before going in: a Waddle Dee and Waddle Doo reusable tote, which came in handy to carry my spoils from amiami. It also wound up being very useful for the rest of the trip (especially since this was our first full day in Japan after arriving and we did a lot more shopping from this point forward).

Don’t skip Radio Kaikan if you’re a collector. There are treasures waiting for you there.

Final Fantasy Eorzea Cafe

While Final Fantasy XIV isn’t on a Nintendo console, many Final Fantasy titles have appeared on Nintendo consoles over the decades, and many of our readers (and myself and my husband) likely play XIV, so I definitely want to touch on this experience because it was amazing. While I can’t speak to the process of booking our time slot at the cafe — my husband handled that — I can say that I was impressed by the level of detail that went into the cafe, from the ambiance to the food itself.


Check-in, seating, and ordering went very smoothly, though I do recommend having some basic Japanese down to make the process easier for both yourself and the staff. The drink and food menu were very thoughtfully designed and every item was unique and paid homage to the game in some way. Everything we ordered was delicious, which surprised me because I thought the food might be a bit of an afterthought after all of the decor and spectacle. Definitely try the Radz-at-Han Rice, Chocobo Nest Pasta, Fat Cat Meat Bun, Black Mage Tiramisu, and the Ether to wash it all down.

The staff do a raffle giveaway during your meal time slot, but the entire thing was done in Japanese and you’d need to be at least semi to fully fluent to understand what was going on. While I do believe you should put in some effort to learn the language of the country you’re traveling to, I do think it’s odd that the entire thing is done in Japanese given how many tourists go to this cafe. Most of the people there with us were tourists and were visibly lost, not understanding what was going on.

Small gripe aside, this was a very cool experience that you should try to see yourself if you’re a Final Fantasy XIV fan.

Super Potato

The legendary retro game store’s Akihabara location is a multilevel store that’s hard to miss. With video game music playing outside the building like a siren’s song and retro Pac-Man and Mario art on the top-floor windows, Super Potato broadcasts its identity loud and clear.


It feels more like part retro game store, part retro gaming museum, given how many rare vintage gaming relics are on display but not for sale. From a promotional statue of Fox McCloud from the original Star Fox, to an old Virtual Boy demo kiosk and promotional posters and so much more, there’s nearly as much to look at as there is to buy. However, while the sheer number of games available is impressive, some of the prices seemed outrageously steep even compared to what you see on eBay or in other Japanese shops, and a number of customers were commenting about this to each other while walking around. Prices were a bit all over the place, with some things marked much lower than I would’ve expected and some that were so high that I gasped.

Don’t miss the arcade at the top floor. Tons of cabinets are up there for guests to play, along with snacks galore if you plan to stay a while (and a statue of Solid Snake to take a photo with). Super Potato is worth digging around if you’re looking for vintage gaming treasures as well as new gaming merchandise, but expect some sticker shock.

Tokyo Video Gamers

This is a tiny bar-arcade inside of a much bigger building filled with vintage toy stalls, a music shop, and more. There are a handful of arcade cabinets that are free to play, though the owners ask that you make at least one food or drink order every hour to continue playing. There are also a ton of vintage gaming magazines and art books for guests to peruse while taking a break from the games.

Taito HEY Arcade

Also known as the Hirose Entertainment Yard, this multilevel arcade is the perfect place for fans of retro shmups and fighting games. There are hundreds of cabinets here catering to different tastes, and the older cabinets only required ¥100 (less than a dollar) per play. You could sit for hours playing everything from Street Fighter to Marvel vs. Capcom to Darkstalkers (or Vampire) to countless shmups and much, much more.

SQUARE ENIX Official Goods

Even if you don’t manage to make a reservation at the Square Enix cafe in time for your trip to Tokyo, you can still visit the Official Goods store that’s attached to the cafe and doesn’t require reservations. While small, it offers a great selection of merchandise from various Square Enix titles, with Final Fantasy making up the majority of the offerings, but Kingdom Hearts, Octopath Traveler, and Dragon Quest goods also available. If you’re a fan of Square Enix games, definitely make a pit stop here.


Pokémon fans should make sure they stop by Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, the commercial and entertainment district of the Toshima ward in Tokyo. There, you’ll find the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo, the Pokémon GO Lab, and Pikachu Sweets Cafe. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to try the Pikachu Sweets Cafe (though it was absolutely adorable), but I can give some insight on the other locations.

Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo


If you’re on the hunt for Pokémon merchandise in Japan, you would do well going to any of the country’s multiple Pokémon Centers, but you’d do best by going to the Mega Tokyo location. The amount of things to choose from is very large, and there are items that this location had that I didn’t see in others. Aside from having the best selection, they also had really cool statue installations both inside and outside the store.

Just at the exterior, they also had pressed souvenir coin machines, where you could choose from three different coin designs and receive a coin with that design pressed into the surface. The My Pikachu line of Pikachu plushies had launched shortly before our trip, and every Pokémon Center we went to had hundreds of them available to buy. The line consists of both male and female Pikachus, all in different poses with different facial expressions. They were certainly the most popular item, with guests grabbing multiple because there were so many to choose from. (I was told I could only buy one despite trying to buy four, likely to combat scalpers; oddly, I didn’t see anyone else having that limit imposed on them, and there were a LOT of people in line buying more than one.)

Pokémon GO Lab

Across from the Pokémon Center is the Pokémon GO Lab, which has a large selection of mini plushes and other merchandise, some of which wasn’t available in the Pokémon Center. There are four slightly-larger-than-life-sized statues of the three team leads and Professor Willow from the game, and lots of in-game stats, live feeds, and more that players can check out on the in-store screens.



Buckle up, Nintendo fans: if you’re looking for Nintendo Tokyo, Shibuya is your destination. However, in the same building that you’ll find the greatest selection of Nintendo products in one store, you’ll also find two other gaming stores of note: Pokémon Center Shibuya and CAPCOM STORE TOKYO.

Nintendo Tokyo

Get ready to do some serious shopping here. Zelda, Mario, Kirby, Animal Crossing, Metroid, and Splatoon all have merchandise collections in-store, and it can be hard to control yourself. Home goods, stationary, clothes, keychains, plushies, candy, cookies — the list of Nintendo-themed goods available here is long. Make sure to check out the giant 8-bit Mario jumping out of a pipe near the back entrance to the store!

Pokémon Center Shibuya


Much of the same product that was at the Mega Tokyo location was also available here, but since it’s a smaller store there wasn’t quite as large of a selection. However, there were some souvenir cookie tins and other food items at this location that I actually didn’t see at Mega Tokyo. But the coolest feature of this store that is also unique to this location? Mewtwo sleeping in his tank at the entrance! Felt like being in Pokémon: The First Movie.



I actually didn’t know there was a Capcom store, so this was a nice surprise. While it’s very tiny, there’s a shocking amount of merchandise tucked away here from series like Resident Evil, Mega Man (or Rockman in Japan), Street Fighter, and Monster Hunter, and games like Okami and Ghost Trick. There was also a life-sized Ryu statue for photos at the front of the store.



While Harajuku is a can’t-miss destination for the fashion lovers, there’s also a can’t-miss stop for Nintendo lovers here — Kirby fans, in particular.

Kiddy Land

This longstanding toy store is a hot spot for kids and adults. With multiple floors of toys and merchandise dedicated to some of Japan and America’s most well-loved franchises and characters, Kiddy Land almost feels a misnomer. Make sure you stop here to visit Kirby’s Pupupu Market, a small section of one of the floors where you can buy Kirby merchandise themed around grocery shopping and food. The Kirby statue in the middle of the display is absolutely adorable, as is everything in this line. There’s also a small selection of vintage Kirby collectibles on display in this area (but I wished they were for sale!).

This store also had a ton of the 2.5″ Sanei Boeki (Jakks here in America) Mario figures. I regret not getting the Waluigi and Wario figures, but I did pick up Metal Mario, which is apparently a rare find.



In Shinjuku’s Kabukicho Tower, Namco recently opened a gaming behemoth. And in an unassuming cat cafe, video games make an unexpected appearance.

Namco Tokyo

Earlier this year, Namco opened a massive bar and arcade complex inside Kabukicho Tower. Pac Man himself makes an appearance at the bar as an AI-generated DJ. The arcade has crowd favorites, like Mario Kart Arcade GP DX and Taiko no Tatsujin (AKA Taiko: Drum Master), a ton of different claw machines, a large Gacha selection, and much more. The size of Namco Tokyo adds to the overall spectacle of Kabukicho Tower, which is worth visiting just to see and experience in person.

Cat Cafe Mocha

We stumbled on this cat cafe on our last day in Japan and were blown away by how amazing it was. It wasn’t merely a cafe, but also a lounge/gaming lounge/manga library with so many amenities, which we didn’t realize before heading in. If you stop by, not only will you have the company of a ton of incredibly cute, friendly cats, but you’ll be able to choose from two different Switches to play with — one with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the other with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — and a Super Famicom Mini. Just don’t be surprised when a cat jumps on top of the counter and walks in front of the screen expecting your attention.

This isn’t even scratching the surface of all the gaming-related activities and things to do in Tokyo, but just the few places I managed to see while I was there. Next up: Osaka! Keep an eye out for part 2 of our Nintendojo in Japan series.

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