Hunting in Asahikawa

Asahikawa, the second largest city in Hokkaido (next to Sapporo) may be better known for its Zoo and Ramen rather than its hobby/otaku culture. Nevertheless just like almost every other city in Japan, if you know where to look, you are bound to find a hidden gem just lying in plain sight. In my recent trip to Asahikawa, that hidden gem turned out to be the conspicuously well hidden, Animate Asahikawa. 

Located in the Marukatsu Department Store, Animate Asahikawa is just a short walk from the JR Asahikawa station. That being said, it is very easy to miss as there is only a single sign outside the building with no other indications of its location otherwise. Once you are in though, it is a wholly different scenario with the entire outer "wall" of the shop lined with Gashapon machines, posters and merchandise.
The various clear files on sale within the store usually featuring the most popular anime/games/manga currently. And yes, this particular Animate sells many clear files for some reason of another.

There is just this little sign to confirm that you are indeed at the right place.

On the other half of the wall, there are posters and bulletins detailing the upcoming releases and available pre-orders. This is a very common occurrence with most hobby shops in Japan.

One of the two entrances into the shop, this one is located right next to the cashiers.

Inside there are all sorts of hobby related merchandise you can find short of actual scale figures. Everything was neatly sorted by series and for the miscellaneous goods, they were are pilled in the same area together. If there was one thing I needed to note was, Asahikawa's Animate seemed to cater more to the female-demographic than to men. Why exactly is something I need to find out.

Here is the second entrance which was located roughly in the middle of the store. With white floors, walls and ceiling with bright lights, Animate Asahikawa was a pleasant place to be to take shelter from the frigid cold outside. Seeing as how taking photos in shops is often frowned upon, I had to practice some restraint. Hence, the lack of "in-store" pictures.

Next to Animate was yet another otaku-hit, Book Net One which sold all sorts of magazines, manga and light novels. It too had a long row of Gashapon machines outside the shop.

Speaking of Gashapon, the latest Madoka Magica Soul Gem Gashapon was there too! Although I had infamously bad luck when it comes to these sort of things, the temptation to give it a shot was just to strong. Besides, the 1 in 5 odds (20%) was good enough for me or in my mind it was at least.

300 Yen in. Nervously rotate the mechanism. The notable clunk of the capsule falling down. I looked down and there it was. An orange capsule.

I did it on the first try, the first time such a thing has ever happened to me!

On the same floor as Animate, there was a small arcade of sorts too.

There were several crane machines and photo booths but, as expected, their figures were pretty old.

And with no one in view who mans these booths, I wonder how or who exactly resets these prize's positions.

Equally expected, there was no one in sight playing these machines. But, that is largely in part to the larger and more up-to-date arcade located in the Aeon Mall which was right next to the JR Asahikawa Station.

So, what did I get from Animate Asahikawa? Well, the cover states it all. The recently releases LisAni Muse special that I have been hunting for. Chronicling their 6 year journey, this was just one of the few new Muse merchandise following their hiatus. It even came with a free poster which was really neat!

All in all, while I did not have to spend much, I was pleasantly surprised at the offerings in Asahikawa. There were several other hobby stores located a little further out of the city center but, I did not have the chance to check this out especially with the current weather. Nevertheless, it is great to see that the love for anime can be seen even in the far reaches of Hokkaido. With that, I shall sign off for today. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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