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I'm making a short trip to Tokyo in mid-May and I would like to check out the hobby shops there, especially in the Akihabara area. I plan to check out places like Yellow Submarine and Yodobashi. Which stores have good prices on their kits, or are they generally the same everywhere in Tokyo?

Also, do most of these stores have English-speaking staff? My level of verbal Japanese is basic at best, it would be good to have something to fall back on if I can't convey what I want in Japanese. Thanks in advance.

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Prepare to geek out when you get there.

I went to Tokyo this Summer and its funny that you mention Yodobashi and Yellow Submarine because those are the two stores I spent most my money. Prices were good at both, I came home with a dozen or so kits. What blew my mind was the Gundam kit prices....I wish I went nuts on the Gundam kits. But Tamiya was nicley priced, I got a bunch of good deals on some TAmiya cars and various other plane kits and did I mentioned Gundam kits were really really cheap. I wish I had bought some perfect grade kits to take home.

As for the staff I did run into a few hat spoke english but I wasnt looking for specific things while shopping. One word of advice if I may, get a wireless hotspot if you dont plan to use data on your phone. The ability to use google maps was priceless, my wife and I got around without any issues using google maps and the trains. It was an awesome trip.

*Edit, I see you are from Singapore...I think you might have great Gundam prices at home as well :)

Edited by camaroz06
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I live about qn hour from Akihabara and make the trek up there at least once a month. Volks, Yellow Submarine, and Tam Tam have the best selection of new kits and are pretty evenly matched price wise. However my favorites are the two Leonardo stores that are off the main drag and literally packed with older and used kits - great deals on some of the Japanese brands.



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Cool, You'll be going into heaven itself over there :)

Gundam kits there are routinely priced 20 or 30% less than their MRSP on the box, but some shops may have a better bargain so do shop around.

If you are free you can try visiting Yamada Labi in Ikebukuro, they have a fabled entire floor dedicated to just Gundam there.

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There is also a Tamiya outlet store close to Shimbashi station. Great for finding all things Tamiya, as well as kits that they bring in (such as Italeri). If you're time is limited, then Akihabara is definitely the way to go. When I was there in 2009, I made the trek down on a Saturday night - shops were in open, place was packed, and the neon was amazing! Pricing was reasonable at that time - not sure what it may be like now.

Now I'm craving a cold beer and some Yakitori...

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  • 2 months later...

Hey guys, back from my trip and would like to share some of my pictures and observations for anyone else wanting to visit in the future.

Haneda Airport. The 5th floor has an open observation deck that gives a great view of the apron and runways, I recommend stopping by at the beginning or at the end of your trip.



In Akihabara, I first dropped by Yodobashi Camera. This was the only shop where I was able to (secretly) take some pictures as most stores in Akihabara are pretty strict on in-store photographs. But the rest of the hobby shops in the town are pretty much similar. Yodobashi has plenty of car, plane, ship, train, and sci-fi models from the Japanese manufacturers like Hasegawa, Tamiya, Fujimi, Aoshima, and Pit Road. Prices are not bad and they absorb the 8% GST.



Volks Hobby Tengoku. Smaller selection of kits and prices are a bit higher than Yodobashi's. Kits are on the 2nd floor. This is also the only place I know in Akihabara that stocks Zoukei Mura kits, the one being featured in the showcase right now is their new 1/32 Mustang IV.


Leonardo ET is located in Suehirocho in the northern part of Akihabara. From the Suehirocho station exit no.2, walk north until you see the McDonald's, then turn right into the side road and then take the first left into the alley behind it. To get to Leonardo LG, continue on after turning in from the McDonald's and you should see it after reaching the end of the side road. Has new kits at good prices and older, rare kits at even better prices. All sorts of makers including Hasegawa, Tamiya, Aoshima, Fujimi, Revell, Monogram, Airfix, Academy, and Dragon. Great collection of publications and aftermarket too. The selection was just mind-blowing, I honestly wished I had more luggage space to buy more stuff from here.



Yellow Submarine has more of the same kits, but it also has a very large collection of aftermarket decals and parts.

Tam Tam Hobby. It was mostly train models and military goods, an okay selection of kits.


While I was exploring Shimbashi, I made a stop at the Tamiya Plamodel Factory shop. Like GVoakes said, it has plenty of Tamiya and Italeri kits, as well as tools and magazines. Being an official shop, the prices are on the high side so I wouldn't recommend getting stuff from here unless you really want to.


I had planned to go to the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama on the morning of my second last day but decided against it at the last minute. Turned out to be a bit of a save there as an earthquake happened there at about 8.30 a.m.

I spent a total of 6 days exploring Tokyo, including Asagaya, Akihabara, Nakano, Shimbashi, Shinjuku, Odaiba, and Ueno. Was a bit nervous at making my first Japan trip and doing it solo, but it worked out alright in the end. You don't have to speak fluent Japanese but knowing even a few phrases will make it a lot easier.

My modelling haul was made up of the Tamiya 1/72 F-16CJ which I got for a good price at Yodobashi (1570 yen without tax, around the same as HLJ's but with the bonus of not paying for shipping), a 1/12 arcade machine, a 1/100 architectural model set from Terada Models (http://www.teradamokei.jp/en/ ,their bilingual instructions are hilariously funny and witty) and Zoukei Mura's 1/35 Edelweiss tank from Sega's Valkyria Chronicles.


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Maybe get in touch with "teensound-jp" on ebay. I bought some nice vintage Hasegawa kits from him a while back. He has access to a closed down

hobby shop in the Minato-Ku area. I got some very nice prices. I don`t know if it`s still available, but worth a check if you are crossing paths in Tokyo.

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I had an opportunity to go but it was just too expensive for my employer to send me. Too bad, it would have been fun!

You could always make the trip later yourself, it's an experience not to be missed. :D I'm already starting to draw up plans for a return trip!

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I'd love to go. Definitively on the list. I also want to see a ballgame there.

Go! You won't regret it. I'm hoping to head back in a year or so, and spend significantly more time there than I have before. So much to see and do(and new restaurants to try out as well!).

One spot to add if you have the time - Yasukuni Shrine. Japan's main war memorial and a really interesting historical museum. Thought provoking and sobering at the same time, and a chance to see some actual hardware (A6M5, Type 97 tank, Kaiten, etc...)


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so in tokyo are it prices cheaper there than they are hear in the U S or are they the same minus shipping cost

Its cheaper, in several different ways. First, retailers sell kits at MSRP -20% as a general rule, so its always cheaper than what you will get in North America. The price that HLJ and 1999.co.jp show is what you will see in stores. Next there is a hidden cost attached by North American importers, that marks up costs due to import fees.

The other side is that japanese retailers keep things on their shelves for years at the old MSRPs. So older hobby stores will have kits from the 1980s, with the same prices as they had back then (no inflation). so a Hasegawa F9F cougar will still be 500 yen or so.

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so in tokyo are it prices cheaper there than they are hear in the U S or are they the same minus shipping cost

It depends - I found some good deals on Tamiya kits when I was there in 2009. Also, some Japanese manufacturers (Fine Molds) were slightly better priced (although still expensive). Factoring in shipping costs, I came out ahead. Italeri, Revell, etc. were all much higher priced.

My main focus was not on kits as much as it was on aftermarket accessories that never make it across to us, or are only available trhough companies like HLJ.

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