Subculture in Sendai

What images come to mind when you hear the phrase “Japanese culture?” While many tourists flock to experience temples, gardens or the ancient tea ceremony, others come seeking the modern niche pop culture. This Japanese “subculture” is centered on Tokyo’s Akihabara district. Filled with maid cafes, electronic stores, gaming, anime, and manga, it is truly an “otaku’s” (pop-culture obsessed person) paradise. However, there must be some similar experience in northern Japan, right? Knowing next to nothing about pop culture ourselves, we joined local guide Shunsuke Wakamatsu’s “The Sendai Otaku Tour” to find out more.

“Sendai is the center of anime, manga and subculture in Tohoku, but only if you know where to look,” explains Mr. Wakamatsu. We soon found out that Sendai’s subculture shops are conveniently located in three hotspots in front of Sendai Station. Hidden in plain sight are: Parco, EbeanS, and the second floor of Asaichi Morning Market fish market inside the Shin-Sendai Eki-mae Bldg. While you could explore these areas by yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself lost navigating the maze of manga and overwhelming amount of otaku oddities on display.

“Subculture” covers a wide range of genres, and you’ll get to learn about them all. Anime, manga, “idol” groups, game arcades, figures and models, trading cards, cosplay, and even capsule machines are all introduced in detail!

There are three things we felt make this tour extra special. First is that several anime/manga related to Sendai are introduced, such as "Wake Up, Girls!" or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Second is the knowledgeable guide which not only does an excellent job of showing you a new side of Japan, but is more than capable of helping you track down the perfect souvenir. Lastly is the fact that if this tour was done in Akihabara, it would feel too touristy and crowded. The only people shopping for sub culture in Sendai are fellow otaku, and they are happy to let you explore their world.

Sign-up and view details of “Tohoku’s Akihabara” style tour here: