The word “otaku” is often translated as “geek” in English, and in Japan an “Otaku Town” generally means areas known as treasure troves of anime and game goods. The most famous places that come to mind are probably Tokyo's Akihabara and Osaka's Nihonbashi Ota Road. But have you heard of Center Plaza? Center Plaza and Center Plaza West Building are only a train ride away from Osaka Nihonbashi, near Sannomiya Station on both the JR and Hanshin/Hankyu Kobe Line. Introducing Kobe's "Otaku Street,” two floors of shops densely packed with subculture goodies in a single building that is connected to the station for ease of access (and protection from the rain!)
What Exactly is Center Plaza?
Center Plaza is a shopping mall located between JR Sannomiya Station and Motomachi Station, on the south side of the overpass, between Flower Road and Tor Road. There are three buildings. From east to west they are San Plaza, Center Plaza, and Center Plaza West Building. There are a total of over 500 shops, with everything from fashion to gourmet to variety goods.
Anime and game shops have existed here at Center Plaza West Building for over 20 years, however the number of shops has recently seen a rapid increase, with many more shops than ever before concentrated around the 2nd and 3rd floors of Center Plaza and Center Plaza West Building. Because of this, it is now referred to as Kobe's very own "Otaku Town.”
Let’s have a look!
Specialty shops have existed on the 2nd and 3rd floors of both Center Plaza and Center Plaza West Building for over 20 years ago, with more than 10 specialty stores located in each, as well as in San Plaza, which is connected to Center Plaza. These little shops lined with all kinds of goods are a mountain of treasure for fans of anime and games.
One of the striking points are the rows and rows of "gacha-gacha" toy vending machines lined up in front of the shops and along the passage. There are also secondhand bookstores and cafes on each floor, so you take a break in between your back-to-back visits to all the shops. Here are some of the recommended places to check out:
1. Yellow Submarine Sannomiya: Everything from Figures to Trading Cards!
The Yellow Submarine Sannomiya branch on the 2nd floor of the West Building has been a pioneer of subculture goods for about 20 years. They offer a wide selection of merchandise, from Trading Card Games (TCG) and board games to hobby items such as figures and plastic models.
Especially popular are the TCGs Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, and there are even game competitions held in the shop. In board games, they also produce and sell Japanese versions of the original overseas products.
The figures and plastic models are also very popular amongst foreign visitors, and the store is crammed with them. There is also a Yellow Submarine shop located in Osaka, however recently many tourists are even coming out to Kobe in search of their favorite goods, particularly One Piece and Dragonball figures, as well as Gundam models. There is even a corner of the shop geared towards female fans.
Yellow Submarine Sannomiya Branchイエローサブマリン三宮店
- Address CENTER PLAZA WEST, 2F 2-11-1 Sannomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-0021
- Phone Number 078-327-5202
Closed:Open every day (except January 1st)
2. Animate Cafe Kobe Sannomiya: A Variety of Anime & Game Collaborations!
On the 3rd floor of the Center Plaza Main Building is Animate Cafe Kobe Sannomiya, which offers a variety of collaborations with a variety of anime and games, usually centered on whatever is popular or trending at the moment. The shop's interior is also designed according to the current collaboration.
Many limited-edition products can be found at the front of the shop, as well as many fans looking for their favorite goods. In some cases, reservations may only be available via a lottery system and can only be booked in advance, so be sure to check the website before going.
Naturally, the drinks and foods you can find at the cafe are also related to the current collaboration. The original menu is designed in accordance with the characters and motifs of the series. In the case of free admission, you may be able to enter without an advanced reservation (however, admission tickets may be distributed at crowded times).
There is also a standard drink menu available with items such as regular coffee, so you can still enjoy it as a normal cafe. Please check vacancy status and collaboration even schedules online on the official Animate Cafe website and Twitter feed.
Animate Cafe Kobe Sannomiyaアニメイトカフェ神戸三宮
- Address CENTER PLAZA 3F 1-1-9 Sannomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0021
- Phone Number 078-325-3391
Hours:Free Admission: 12:00PM~8:00PM
Lottery Reservations: 10:00AM~8:00PM
Closed: Open every day
3. Surugaya Kobe Sannomiya 1st Shop: Popular With Tourists!
Surugaya Kobe Sannomiya's 1st Branch was relocated and reopened on the 3rd floor of San Plaza on March 30, 2019. It is a thrift shop that sells figures, anime goods, CDs, books, video software, and female-oriented doujinshi (fan-made comics). In addition to super-popular One Piece and Dragonball goods, items such as "bishoujo" figures (cute, female characters) are also popular with tourists.
In addition to all the anime goods and figures there is also an "ALL 100 YEN" corner in the shop, lined with character goods and stuffed animals. It is especially popular with female customers, and you can often find crowds of people in the store searching for their favorite items.
There is also a "Kyoto Animation Corner," as well as the Kobe Sannomiya 2nd Shop, located on the 2nd floor of San Plaza, which sells plastic models, board games, retro games, and goods related to girl idol groups.
- Address SAN PLAZA 3F 1-9-1 Sannomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0021
- Phone Number 078-381-5011
Closed:Always Open (except January 1st)
Because all three buildings are connected via the 2nd and 3rd floors, you can easily move around between them. With so many shops, all displaying rows and rows of gacha-gacha machines out front, even just walking around is sure to be fun. Another plus point to Kobe's Otaku Town: being able to walk around in search of your favorite goods, regardless of the weather!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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