We have a guest post by TapuKokoro who went to Japan and was kind enough to share their doll/hobby shop experience with you.
We hope you enjoy the article, there’s a fun treat waiting for you at the end 🥳
UPDATED: Winner Announced Below
Hello, this is TapuKokoro.
I went to Tokyo for a week and did a lot.
Out of the things I did, this included taking a look at dolls.
I do apologize for the photo quality in advance.
I used an iPhone 6s at the time, and while traveling, I prefer to take quick photos over spending time getting the perfect shot.
This is because I want to just enjoy the setting over worrying about that sort of stuff.
In terms of doll and doll merchandise/accessories, I mostly just visited Akibahara.
Interestingly enough, there was a Dolk, Azone, and Dollfie shop, all in the same building.
I was able to find the Azone shop off of Google maps, but not the other two, so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to hit several doll shops in one go.
In addition, there are many shops where you can find secondhand dolls and doll parts.
Notably, there’s a chain store that specializes in secondhand goods called Mandarake.
I found a Mandarake in Akibahara and one in Nakano Broadway, and there’s definitely more out there.
Mandarake stores consist of things such as anime goods, model kits, franchise merch, and yes, dolls.
They also have an online site where you can find many goods, although it can be a little finicky because as a physical store, if you want an item listed on the site, they have to double-check it to see if they can actually have it in-store, I think.
The Azone store has a large variety of the dolls they’ve released over the ages on display.
Unfortunately, these weren’t for sale, but there are still many dolls that have been released recently.
Azone stocks 1/3, 1/6, and 1/12 scale dolls, with the 1/12 scale ones mostly being their Assault Lily line.
In addition, you can find many clothes and accessories.
There was a sign saying to not take pictures of the products, but allowed for pictures of display dolls, so unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of what they were selling.
I went to Dolk, saw the prices, took some pictures, and walked out.
These dolls are really pretty, especially some of the male dolls that you wouldn’t see in Azone and rarely in Dollfie, but wow are they expensive… Maybe one day…
The Dollfie shop was particularly interesting.
The shop was an open space with many customs already up for display.
I believe these are called D’ccords, or coordinate models.
These are basically Dollfies that have already had their face, wig, and outfit chosen by dedicated staff.
You can pick one out, and after you check its quality to make sure everything is alright (this is often done for many products in Japan, oftentimes cups and other fragile items), you can purchase her and take her home.
Aside from that, the shop also contains standard models that you can also find online, a service where the staff helps you pick and choose out the perfect loadout for a Dollfie of your choice (only in select shops; I believe this one does it, but I didn’t confirm), and many Dollfie parts, care items, wigs, etc.
I do like the setting and design of the store, and they have a gallery that showcases many of the character dolls that they’ve made throughout the years.
As a secondhand store, Mandarake will have a wide variety of merch, but dolls do take a large portion of it.
Keep an eye out! These Mandarakes will often take up many storefronts in a building, if not the whole thing, in order to organize the wide variety of things they carry.
You’ll have to look around to find the dolls, but they’ll usually be taking up their own storefront in whatever building you’re looking at.
I didn’t check the quality of the secondhand goods, but I imagine that they should at least be decent.
Although the large variety of goods can be a little overwhelming, if you keep at it, hopefully you’ll find something that you like.
Amiami is another store where you can check for dolls.
It’ll mostly be anime merch, figures, and model kits, but it does stock some Azone dolls.
If you wanted to go for an older Azone doll, this place wouldn’t be a bad place to search.
I was pleasantly surprised that some older Nendoroids and Figmas could be found at the Amiami store.
Some smaller shops in Akiba also stock dolls, some of which might be from more niche brands.
You’ll likely mostly find Azone dolls, since their 1/6 dolls cover anime and game characters in addition to their original stuff, and are cheaper than dolls of a larger scale from other brands (1/12 scale dolls might also be found for similar reasons).
You should still try to look around and explore, though.
I wish I took more pictures of these, tbh.
I would like to show off doll purchases that I got, but uh, awkward thing: I don’t actually have any.
I had bought a lot of doll-related items while I was in Taiwan and was heading towards a sort-of “break” prior to returning to the US, where I would avoid buying dolls for the time being.
Furthermore, prior to visiting Akibahara, I had browsed two conventions, Prism Record and Reitaisai, both of which had drained my wallet significantly, making me promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy any doll stuff unless they pertained to my current immediate interests (Madoka Magica/Magia Record and Touhou).
Through the trip, I had seen exactly two dolls that fit that criteria: a Sakuya Izayoi doll and a Marisa Kirisame doll, both seen in Amiami, both being older 1/6 Touhou dolls.
Luckily, I already had a Sakuya doll (albeit secondhand with many missing accessories), and the Marisa doll was the older version rather than the new one, so my wallet didn’t experience more pain (at least there).
For those interested in model kits, there is a Gundam Base store in Tokyo near the Tokyo Teleport stop that also has a giant statue of the Unicorn Gundam.
There is also a Kotobukiya in Akiba for those interested in Megami Device and Frame Arms Girls.
Kotobukiya also makes other anime and game merch as well.
Like with dolls, smaller brands of model kits can also be found scattered in various stores, so be on the lookout!
It was a pretty fun trip overall.
Sometimes in hindsight, I feel like I should’ve bought more stuff (lol), but at the same time, I was happy with what I was able to get.
I met some people at the cons I went to and had conversations with them (albeit limited; I can’t speak Japanese).
For doll collectors and fans alike, I think Tokyo does have a good variety of dolls to be worth looking into if you ever happen to plan a trip to Japan.
That’s all I have! Hope you enjoyed!
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