So you’ve been seeing all these blogs or twitters highlighting these so and so items for these so and so anime at these so and so events. Chances are, you’d want these items. Chances are, you’ll be going to Japan soon. Chances are, these are limited edition or event-only items or even gashapon. Chances are, these items are sold out. Chances are, you’ll be fighting for these items.
In order to help you make your trip less disappointing, here are some tips I’ve learned about buying goods for all your fujoshi needs.
1. If you can order it online, order it.
Yes. It’s a weird suggestion. But this really helps a lot especially when you don’t have time to go through shelves and stores.
Amazon Japan will be your best friend. Going through Amazon Japan and taking advantage of their PRIME shipping (which gives you free shipping within Japan) helps a lot. Just make sure that when you make your Amazon Japan account (this is possible for international folks as well), you also place the address of your hotel in Japan. Activate Amazon Prime and start ordering. Just make sure you order a few days before your trip so that when you arrive, your item is already there! You can even order once you’re in Japan already.
Currently, Amazon Prime in Japan is free for your first year. Afterwards, it charges you around $70/year. Just make sure you cancel the Amazon Prime account once you’ve done your local shopping.
I strongly suggest this for items you probably don’t mind hunting for its regular prices: manga and toys.
2. Anime shops (outside of Akihabara)
Your otaku instinct will tell you that when you think of anime shopping, the only place to go is Akihabara. While I think every otaku must visit Akiba, it is possibly not the best place for those who are not in the mood or the time to make sense of that place’s chaos. But Akihabara would probably have introduced you to three important anime shops that you MUST remember (at least for your fujoshi needs).
Keep a note that if you’re looking for fujoshi goods, look at their floor directory and search for 女性向け (josei-muke, for women) floor. This saves you from sorting through things you don’t want to see. Usually, these floors will have all the BL, shojo manga, and BL dojinshi. The ground floor is for general goods and would usually contain the regular manga or goods for the latest animated shows.
Also, don’t go right smack when work ends for most people (around 7-8 in the evening). This means that you’d have to get in a long line just to get your goods. Try going right smack when the door opens. Especially when you’re chasing for particular limited edition goods.
This is perhaps the only store in Akihabara that I would recommend for reasons such as that it’s ginormous in Akihabara. However, I prefer the store in Ikebukuro too because it has more fujoshi-oriented books. I find that this places specialises mostly in goods. So if you didn’t do your manga shopping in Amazon, this is a good place to go to. K-books also has a good set of dojinshi but are focused mostly on the latest works and popular ships.
I would like to note that the K-books in Akihabara has a particularly commendable shop at its 3rd or 4th floor. You’ve probably heard of rental locker shops in Akihabara. Out of all the rental shops I’ve been to (Radio Kaikan’s rental cubes included), this had some of the best and “reasonably” priced lockered goods. I’d probably go into detail much later on, but for now, keep K-books as a good place to do your anime and manga shopping.
This is possibly your mecha for your fujoshi needs. A lot of anime, particularly fujoshi oriented anime, release animate only goods. That said, while Akiba is your haven, it is not the best branch to go to. My suggestions are as follows: Animate Ikebukuro (Tokyo) and Animate Nipponbashi (Osaka). These are two large stores (with more or less five floors for anime and manga goods) and in my experience, they focus on more female-oriented goods. Between these two, I prefer Nipponbashi because quite a lot of goods that have “run out” in Tokyo ended up being available in Osaka. For example, the Yowamushi Pedal Pet Bottle cover ran out in Tokyo but there were tons of them in Animate Kyoto and Osaka. After checking out other animate shops, those based near the Tokyo area end up running out a lot of goods compared to those outside of Tokyo. So, if you’re crying because you can’t afford to go to Tokyo to get your anime goods, don’t worry. Just look for the Animate closest to you.
Also, keep note if your nearest Animate also has anime cafe events related to your favourite series! Sometimes, you might also want to check out announcements on books that will be released during your trip. Sometimes, publishers hold animate-only limited items which are difficult to get since fujoshi tend to finish them in stores on the day itself.
Melonbooks is really more of a dojinshi store than it is a dedicated goods store like Animate. Nonetheless, I always find their collections awesome and so far, it has not disappointed me in giving me my BL needs, particularly Melonbooks in Nipponbashi. Most of the dojinshi sold here are not second hand. To a degree, it’s like Toranoana but sometimes Toranoana can be overwhelming so I tend to enjoy Melonbooks quite a lot.
Like animate, there’s always a Melonbooks near you.
3. GIMME GASHAPONS AND EVENT GOODS!
Gashapons, I realize, are serious business in Japan. I’ve been spoiled how easy it is to get gashapons in Manila that I didn’t realise that you’d sooner find crappy gashapons in Akihabara or Ikebukuro than getting the gashapon that you want. How do you make sure that you maximise your gashapon needs? Here are two tips for you: find where your gashapon is placed, buy an opened gasha in a rental locker.
If you want to find the places where your gashapon can still be found, check the website Gashadoko. Gashadoko keeps track and advises places where you can find the gasha you’re looking for. Just head to the prefecture where you’re heading, the city you might be visiting, and check the drop down box for the title you’re looking for. If you get a a green gasha result, it means that there are still a lot of gashas related to this series. If you got a blue gasha, there are few gashas of this title around.
When your gasha results say blue, chances are, you’d have to turn to rental locker sales.
These rental lockers are places where otaku can “sell” goods to people who probably never had the chance to get the gashapons or blind box items that they want. A lot of these items are “opened” goods. It’s also a place where you can get items that are usually found in only particular events. This doesn’t mean that the items are second-hand. It only means that the item has been opened from their blind boxes or gashapons and you can easily purchase the item that you want without having to go through a lot of gasha or blind boxes.
That said, expect gashapons in rental lockers to be double, if not, triple the price. Remember this rule: the more recent your anime, the more popular the anime is, the more popular your favourite character is, the greater likelihood that you will find your item to be excessively overpriced.
For example, I heard there was a Midousuji secret gasha (see picture above). I went to Akiba in hopes in finding the gasha machine with this but alas the yowapeda gashas were non-existent. Hence, I turned to the rental lockers and lo and behold, I found Midousuji for 500 yen. Normally, a gashapon costs 200 yen. In another gasha rental locker, the same Midousuji gasha costs 800 yen. A 300 yen Toudou lottery prize in Namja Town costs 2,100 yen in Akihabara.
Yes. These shops know that fujoshi are willing to pay the price and they know how to abuse your love for your fave character and your wallet. So be warned. The things that you love could cost a lot.
There are many rental locker shops all over otaku “centres”, these are areas in a particular district where all the anime shops are pooled together. Hence, Akihabara and Ikebukuro are some of the best known places to find rental locker shops in Tokyo. Nakano Broadway is a lot less known, but this place also has a couple of shops where you can search for “opened” and event only goods. In the Kansai area, Osaka’s Denden town (Nipponbashi) is the place to go. Then there’s the Tenshin area in Hakata.
4. DOJIN AND SECOND HAND BOOKS HUNTING
I guess it’s no mystery that if you’re thinking about dojinshi, the best place to go to is Mandarake. Animate, K-books, Melonbooks and Toranoana will have dojinshi as well but for some magical reason, Mandarake has it all.
Now if there’s a Mandarake that possibly has everything… it will be the Mandarake branch at the end of Nakano Broadway.
The Ikebukuro and Akihabara branches are great but Mandarake’s Nakano branch has everything you want in one spot and if your intention is to buy dojinshi and second-hand manga, then this is probably the only stop you’ll ever need to go to without tiring yourself finding things from one shop to the next.
If these places are not accessible to you, looking for a Book Off for second hand manga and goods in your area also help. From my experience, some Book Off that are outside the otaku “mecca” areas tend to be a little cheaper. Keep note that second hand items in Japan are quite awesome and sometimes, almost at mint condition. Don’t hesitate to buy when you get them from Book Off or Mandarake. On the other hand, be critical when you cross them in rental lockers or some random anime shop in town.
Now this is just the basic rundown to prepare yourself shopping for almost all of your fujoshi needs. If you’d ask me, I prefer shopping in the Kansai area (Osaka/Nipponbashi in particular) because there’s just lesser fuss as all the goods are there and I’m not fighting with thousands of tourists who are possibly hunting for the same things as I am. Not that I am saying you won’t find goods in Tokyo. In my recent trip, I found items a lot more expensive in Tokyo than I did in the Kansai area, especially for opened gashas and rental locker items. In terms of dojinshi and manga, the selection between Tokyo and Kansai are relatively the same.
Either way, get your bank accounts ready when you travel. My suggestion: plan what you buy so that you’re not randomly picking things that you’d possibly regret when you get back.
Have fun shopping, fujoshi and fudanshi!