We occasionally get requests from fellow modellers visiting Tokyo for a few days to advise about places to visit and things to do. Ofcourse everything greatly depends on the days available but we thought of putting together a short, easy-to-use guide starting with model shops. This posting will be updated with photos and addresses so come back again for more. Note: none of the shops cooperated in this list in any way (we just went there today and took photos) so if any of them is reading this, keep the free advertisement we are doing here in mind.
Is the most famous tourist area in Tokyo with the Electric Town and the thousands of small and bigger stores selling electronics, manga and more. It's the culture center of otaku the world over. The most interesting model shops of Tokyo are located there so it is advisable to reserve a day in your trip schedule just for Akihabara.
First up is the Yodobashi Akiba (1). The eight storey high building is full of electronics and the sixth floor is dedicated to toys with a special corner for modelling. Very good collection of new kits and tools.
Next is Akihabara Radio Kaikan (2) just across the Electric Town exit of the train station with two of the biggest and best model shops in Japan.
Yellow Submarine is on the sixth floor with all the latest kits in any scale and a good collection of tools. Don't forget to visit their second-hand corner for kits in low prices.
Volks is on the eight floor. Same range as YS but they sell exclusively the Zokei Moura kits. So definitely a place to visit. Note that both YS and V used to be at a different location.
Further away from the centre of Akihabara, about ten minutes on foot, but still on the main street is TamTam (3). Same range of new kits as the rest, good collection of tools.
Finally a few meters from TamTam, hidden in one of the back streets of Akihabara is one of the Leonardo shops (4). Used to be a big store with 5-6 floor but now there are three of them crowded with new, old and rare kits, books, magazines and more. Not a good place for tools and paints though. Their main store is the one in the photo below.
We recently visited the other two Leonardo shops.
Leonardo #2 is on the 4th floor of the building right next to TamTam. Fairly small but with an excellent collection of kits, mostly old and difficult to locate, in any scale and of any interest (planes, AFV, cars etc). Much better lay-out than the rather narrow Leonardo #1.
Leonardo #3 is located a little further away from the other two...about 3min on foot. In my personal opinion it is the best hobby shop in Akihabara! Plenty of space, excellent collection of new and older kits and books, clean, tidy, very friendly stuff and the whole time I spent there I enjoyed some wonderful blues tunes by the late B.B. King, Eta James and more, instead of the usual AKB48 kind of crap they torture you with at the other more well-known stores.
It is highly advisable to visit all the stores, compare prices and look for models one may have but the others don't. Hope you find this one useful and do share your experiences with us by leaving a comment.