Akihabara in Tokyo is world-famous as a destination for geeky shoppers, but Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area has its own neighborhood that caters to nerds: Den Den Town. And in Den Den Town is one street that’s nicknamed Ota-Road, as in “Otaku Road,” known for its shops full of game and anime related merchandise. Let’s look at what’s out there!
Ota-Road runs parallel to the main street of Den Den Town in the Nipponbashi area of Osaka, just east of Namba. While Ota Road gets a lot of pedestrian traffic, especially on weekends, it is technically a through street for the public on most days, so keep an eye out for cars and trucks if you’re coming to visit.
The first major retail destination of Ota-Road is a large Sofmap location, a Japanese electronics chain with multiple locations in Den Den Town. However, the other nearby branches focus on electronics, games, and household appliances, while this one has an entire floor dedicated to new and used sales of “hobby” goods—shorthand for manga and anime merchandise. Like many stores on Ota-Road, Sofmap also buys used goods (and games, and movies). If you’re a video game fan, this is the only store on Ota-Road that sells new software and hardware, with used games on the second floor.
Right next to Sofmap is Torejaras, a store that deals in toys, figures, capsule toys, and collectible trading cards. While there are at least six other stores on Ota-Road that could be described in those same terms, Torejaras is one of the largest such shops, and more space means a greater variety of merchandise. Torejaras will also buy used goods.
Super Potato & A-Too
Super Potato doesn’t have anything to do with anime directly but no guide to Ota-Road would be complete without it. This location opened in 2010 as an expanded version of the very first Super Potato a few blocks away, but that original location has since closed leaving this as the only Super Potato in all of Den Den Town. It’s a densely packed retro game wonderland that is worth browsing if you’re a fan of old video games, even the prices tend to be higher than other stores of this nature.
On the upper floors of this same building (Super Potato is only on the ground floor) is a branch of A-Too that sells comics, toys, figures, doujin goods, and the like. Also, porn. I haven’t been mentioning porn, but a lot of stores in Den Den Town dealing in anime stuff also sell adult videos, so if you turn a corner in the shop you might be face to face with…something you need to be prepared to see.
Nevermind that the store is called Gamers, the bulk of this store is dedicated to manga, anime, and merchandise related to those things. It’s another chain store that has locations nationwide, although this Ota-Road branch is the only one in Den Den Town.
Ota-Road is lined with shops ready and willing to buy old toys and figures from people, but Supoji promises to out-spend the competition “even if just by one yen.” You have to appreciate the principle of a policy like that.
This small space is an annex to a nearby retailer called Cospa. The main store is a large marketplace of manga and anime goods, including cosplay supplies, but the annex at this time had a temporary gallery/merchandise store related to Sword Art Online.
Kotobukiya is a major retailer and maker of figures that runs its own brick-and-mortar shops in addition to selling premium figures online. Not limited to Japanese properties, Kotobukiya also partners with Western companies to make figures of popular characters from other countries (e.g., Squirrel Girl).
Power Stone Shop San San
One of the weirder shops on Ota-Road, this store sells bracelets made of colored stones that fit the “image” of popular characters and celebrities. In the case of anime, the color of the stones vaguely resemble the color scheme of the character. I doubt anything here is official, and none of it was cheap, but if you need a bracelet that kind of looks like Jotaro’s school uniform in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, this is the place for you.
Gets is a “showcase store” which lets customers rent shelf space in a store to display or sell their personal collection of toys, figures, models, trading cards, whatever. Given the foot traffic on Ota Road, it’s an easy way to get lots of attention on stuff for sale, especially in March around the annual street festival.
At this point, Ota-Road becomes a regular road full of cars and apartments. There are still eye-catching signs like this one to make things look more moe but inside are the just the usual stores one might expect to be in Den Den Town: junk shops, PC parts, and lots of closed shutters. At this point you could head east and go to the “main” street of Den Den Town or head west to return to Namba, but there’s no more Ota-Road beyond here.