Tokyo is known for its pop culture, anime, manga. My daughter, who usually does not like to travel, was up for this trip as it was her “lifelong dream to go to the Pokemon Center.” Mission accomplished! But Kyoto was on my bucket list. When I wasn’t searching for a bit of Zen, I was searching for otaku Kyoto, or at least things to appeal to my daughter’s (or perhaps my own) geeky tastes.

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Geeky Things to do in Kyoto Pop Culture Kyoto

Otaku Kyoto?

But first, a brief note about the word “Otaku.” Perhaps I like to see my daughter’s eyes roll. Our local library had an anime club with a sign announcing their name, the “kawaii otakus,” which I’ll translate here as “cute geeks.” This elicited barfing sounds and motions on the part of my daughter, who explained to me that the term was offensive. As far as I know, it means either someone who has a fixated interest about something (in other words…a geek) or someone who’s into anime, manga , etc. If the shoe fits, kid…

Anime Set in Kyoto?

And another word: it’s not this posts place to discuss anime set in Kyoto, just places to visit, but here’s a good list from another site. I haven’t seen any of these, but it’s a good list if you’re interested in anime set in Kyoto.

One that they don’t list here, but that I have seen,  is the good, but strange and surrealistic, Night is Short, Walk on Girl by Masaaki Yuasa. I cannot unsee the Sophist dance.

Galleriapart

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hello kitty and snoopy at galleriapart otaku kyoto geeky things to to in kyoto

We happened upon Galleriapart by happy accident. If you’re into action figures, this is your place! But even if you’re not an anime fan, there may be something here for you. I found old snoopy figures, Japan souvenirs, and impulsively bought a Mimikyu hat for my cat out of one of the shop’s many Gashapon machines (though I can’t seem to get her to wear it!)

Pokémon Center Kyoto

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While the Pokémon centers in Tokyo are more extensive, I enjoyed Pokémon Center Kyoto more. Perhaps it’s because it wasn’t as crowded, but where else can you get Pikachu in a kimono (or see a Pokémon-themed kimono?

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International Manga Museum

Donguri Republic (Official Studio Ghibli Stores)

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While I was a bit hesitant to put the Doniguri store on an “Otaku Kyoto” list as even people who aren’t fans of anime in general love Studio Ghibli. However, it is anime and belongs here, I think.

There are not one, but TWO, Studio Ghibli shops not far from each other in the Gion district of Kyoto. They have (almost) all the Ghibli merchandise you could want (or, possibly not — the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo has some different merchandise) AND are incredibly charming to boot!

Want to wait at the bus stop with a huge fuzzy Totoro? Pretend you’re Kiki and pose with Jiji? They’ve got you covered! There’s even a small outdoor garden area — the whole thing feels very in tune with the themes of nature that run throughout Miyazaki films.

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Regretfully, I did not buy a Daruma Totoro silk wall hanging. However, I did buy a fantastic Calcifer pancake pan which I later found was also available on Amazon (so I could have gone home without this in my suitcase). But it was nice to have some Ghibli pancakes in the morning when I found myself at an AirBNB with very little in the way of kitchen equipment!

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Animate

We spent a significant amount of time in Kyoto’s branch of Animate (Animate is a chain store — there’s more than one in Tokyo). Somehow I didn’t take any photos of the abundance of manga, anime merchandise, and DVD anime in this huge shop. Somehow we escaped without purchasing anything — I think the amount of stuff was so overwhelming that my daughter was paralyzed from indecision.

But if you’re a manga or anime fan visiting Kyoto, this is somewhere you’ll want to visit, so it was a must-add to an “otaku Kyoto” list.

Waste Your Money in Gashapon Machines

If you visited Tokyo before you came to Kyoto, you might have already done this. But if not, or if, like us, you didn’t get your fill there, know you can find banks of Gashapon machines in Kyoto ready to take your Yen. There aren’t as many as in Tokyo, but there are machines with exclusive Kyoto merchandise. You’ll only get gassho (bowing) animals (This is what we refer to as a “gasshopon.” Sorry, I couldn’t help it!), Geiko figurines, or Fushimi Inari foxes from a Kyoto Gashapon machine!

You’ll find a large bank of Gashapon machines near the Nishiki market (I can’t find it on the map now, so location is approximate), and Galleriapart (mentioned previously) has an assortment as well.

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gashapon kyoto otaku kyoto geeky kyoto

Otaku Kyoto Map

Here are some of the places mentioned in the post. Please note, the gashapon places I found are not included here as I didn’t mark the location when I was traveling and can’t find them on Google Maps! One was near the Nishiki Market — if you roam around, you’ll eventually find some in Kyoto.

Please note, this is now a static image map to make the load time quicker; for an interactive version of this map, please click here or click the map.