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Exploring Osaka's Den Den Town | A Beloved Haven for Anime and Retro Electronics Lovers

I fondly refer to Osaka as my third home, after Hong Kong where I was born, and Vancouver, where I’ve lived for the past three decades.

This time, instead of staying in the city centre in Umeda, Namba or Shinsaibashi, I decided to stay in Nippombashi’s Den Den Town. Just steps from Namba City, this area is extremely popular amongst avid anime and retro electronics collectors. 

There’s a five-storey Taito Station gaming complex just steps from my hotel, where I played video games with my entire family. The main floor is packed with machines where you could try your luck clamping the toys and collectibles displayed in the brightly lit cases. 

Upstairs, teenagers are playing dancing, drums, and other music-oriented games. For those like me, who are from the era of the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64, you would want to visit the fourth floor where the retro games are. Think Kings of Fighters, Street Fighter, and Marvel vs. Street Fighter. Convenient coin change machines accept 1,000 yen bills and 500 yen coins in exchange for 100 yen coins you can use to play various games. Just a few minutes walk from this location is another larger Taito Station complex. This just comes to show the popularity of these games in the Japanese culture.

This Taito Game Station complex is comprised of five floors with crane and gachapon games on the first two floors.


The neighbourhood is also dotted with tons of ‘Gachapon’ shops, which are vending machine dispensed capsule toys. These shops don’t appear to be manned by any staff. You can simply walk in, pick your favourite toys or figurine Gachapon machine, and insert a few coins in exchange for a surprise toy. It’s almost like a Starbucks in North America, you can easily find one, or even two, on one street block.


Gachapon shops can be found on every street in Den Den Town.


While you may know Bic Camera as THE electronics store you always see around Japan, Joshin is another big box retailer in the electronic home appliances category. 

If you are an avid collector of Japanese anime figurines and fandom items like Gundam limited edition figures, then Den Den Town is essentially a gold mine for you. Even if you don’t love toys but you like sifting through collections to dig for vintage items, you can discover old books and CDs (who remembers that there were CDs now that everything is digital?)

Similarly fascinating was the number of maid cafes in the same area. These cafés are busy from the start to the end of the day—even on weekdays! While I have lived in Japan during my university years before, I had never frequented a maid café before, so I was intrigued by why I would see girls and couples lining up in addition to solo men. A quick Google search showed that the food at the café was actually quite good, and that women visiting maid cafes in Japan is a common tourist activity.

Maid cafes are frequented by everyone from tourists to couples and women, not just men.


Besides the abundance of maid cafes, Gachapon shops, games, and electronics stores, there are also plenty of hole in the wall, family-run restaurants that offer satisfying yet very economical meals. In comparison to the amount I would spend on a meal in Vancouver, I could enjoy a scrumptious Katsu curry rice topped with melting cheese for just $13 at Eito Curry (えいと) You’d be hard-pressed to find a similar option made with the same degree of precision. What do I mean by precision? I was impressed by how the chef knew exactly how much curry sauce he should put on each plate of rice. This was consistent for all four of the meals we ordered. 


This melon pan shop is popular with its freshly baked goods and soft serve ice cream.


Just around the corner from this shop is a melon pan shop. Have you ever had melon pan? Pan stands for the word ‘bun’ in Japanese. A melon pan aka melon ‘bun’, has a crispy top featuring a signature diamond-shaped criss-cross pattern that envelops a soft, plump bun for a mix of textures that are so pleasing for the taste buds. I stumbled upon this shop called Aruteria Bekari no Oishii Meron Pan one morning when I was walking towards Namba from my hotel; I suddenly caught a whiff of irresistible baked goods. Turning around, I saw a small lady manning the display case filled with melon pan. Chocolate, Chocolate Strawberry, Green Tea, and other flavours made it hard for me to choose just one! 

The next time you’re in Japan, opt to stay in Nippombashi, where the local eats are tasty, the games are fun, and toys make for great souvenirs and conversation starters upon your return!

Photos: Florence Leung



About the writer

Florence is the Editor in Chief of the lifestyle publication Pendulum Magazine. Rather than just picking up a pen, she also picks up her camera to take photos of culinary, architecture, and travel stories she covers on her globetrotting adventures. Her captures have been featured in publications including Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Londoner and more. Florence lives in Vancouver, Canada.


The opinions expressed in the above article do not reflect the views of JNTO. All content and images are property of the writer unless otherwise specified.



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