It's been 8 years since I last wrote about where to find import Japanese pop culture/otaku Anime goods in Hong Kong so I thought I'd write about it again. I visit HK frequently so it's worth knowing about these places for me being a big fan of Japanese video games and Anime.
Not much has really changed since that post in 2009 but there are a few new shops I discovered that I didn't mention back then.
Import Japanese goods are pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong. Japan's only a 2 hour flight away after all unlike UK which can be 14 - 19 hours so it only makes sense for the city to import from there.... However, while mainstream merchandise such as One Piece, Gundam and Dragon Ball can easily be found anywhere niche goods can still be tough to find.
Stores Don't Open Until Well After Noon
So, don't bother going out until after lunch time. Also be careful of your belongings when exploring the non-department store places as they can have pick pockets lurking but, you should be doing this while travelling anywhere anyway.
Best Avoid The Weekends
If you're not a fan of crowds, it's best avoiding these places during the weekends when it feels like the entire population of Hong Kong is out of their homes - especially in Mong Kok. The crowds are so bad there during the weekends you'll have very little to no personal space.
With all that said, here's a list you can visit...
For your niche, raw unlocalised printed media Sogo is still my favourite place to go to. There's an exit that leads directly into the department store from Causeway Bay Station so you can't miss it.
Then you head all the way up to the top floor to find Asahiya Bookstore.
You can actually only go up so far using the lift before you have to use the escalator to reach this section of the department store.
They have a range of magazines, comics, light novels and even art books all in its original Japanese text.
The only downside with this store I think is their products aren't priced in HKD. You'll find lists showing their own JPY to HKD exchange rates which is usually slightly more pricier than the market rate but, it's still cheaper than importing the printed media yourself considering how heavy they can be.
They've changed the store layout since I last visited. They now have a circular shelving area in the centre of the floor where the cashier used to be.
Other than the pop culture goods, you can also visit their supermarket floor to stock up on Japanese food and snacks too. You'll find some products that aren't available in the local 7 Eleven or other convenience stores.
There's another Sogo in Tsim Sha Tsui but don't bother with that one as it only sells fashion and travel goods.
There's a lot of places selling figures in this area and if you're a computer geek, you can visit the Mong Kok Computer Centre in the area too while you're here. You can usually buy something at 2/3 the price compared to back in UK thanks to the exclusion of VAT. However, I would avoid the cheaper unknown brands which have poor build quality and break easily. It's also quite a different story if your goods don't work as non-department store retailers aren't too fond of returns and will try to send you away...
You can also visit the "Ladies Market" which is a whole lane filled with street stalls selling a whole variety of goods including one or two stalls with bootleg merchandise such as tapestry/wall scrolls of popular Anime shows or games. The stalls have the signature red, white and blue stripes a lot of nylon bags have in Hong Kong on them so you can't miss them really and you're bound to come across them at some point.
In's Point (Recommended)
There are quite a lot of figure stores around the Mong Kok area such as the Sino Centre and the CTMA Centre but I don't think either can beat the selection at this place.
If you go to Yau Ma Tei Station, Exit A2 then go onto Nathan Road and turn left you'll eventually come across it.
There are 2 floors chalk full of figures I didn't see in the other places. Basically they have shelves setup for rent just like in Japan, showcasing a bunch of rare goods people want to sell.
If there's something rare you're looking for you'll most likely find it here.
Didn't know there was an Animate branch in Hong Kong, a very common multi-floor chain department store in Japan that specialises in Anime merch.
It's quite a walk away from Mong Kok station but also on Nathan Road. If you use the D1 exit then head north in the direction of the Chow Tai Fook jewellery store you'll eventually find it.
This store isn't as big as the branches in Japan with only 2 small floors so there isn't a great selection on display but you won't have to worry about bootleg goods here.
Bare in mind a lot of the goods are localised (or Taiwanese imports rather...)
With all that said, it will give you a taste of what the Japanese Animate stores are like if you've never been to Japan, with its familiar blue shelves.
This place is in betweeen Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei Station so you can get off at either station. Yau Ma Tei you would get out at A2, go onto Nathan Road and head north in the direction of McDonalds. Mong Kok you would get out E2 and head south in the direction of Starbucks.
There's a few game and pop culture stores dotted around the place when you head upstairs but I don't think they have as much unique items as In's Point. You'll also find one big store selling a lot of magazines and books in original Japanese.
Music fans looking for signed photos of your favourite Asian pop idols will probably want to visit here too.
This place is just behind Sino Centre. Once you exit, turn left then first left onto Dundas Street. Turn on the first left again and you'll see it.
You can find a few pop culture stores if you head downstairs.
Again, they don't really have much of a selection to recommend this place.
Richmond Shopping Arcade
Exit Mong Kok Station D2 and head along Argyle Street in the direction of the Broadway store and you'll eventually find it next to McDonalds.
It's quite a cramped place with mostly retro figures and toys.
So not a place I'd recommend for modern day pop culture fans.
This place is just right behind exit E1 so as soon as you come out, look backwards and the tall building there (probably with lots of people) will be it.
It doesn't have that much pop culture goods but, if you head to the top floor you can find a place called "Doki-Doki Dendou" selling all sorts of goods including marketing posters used for various Anime movies.
The layout just reminds me of Nakano Broadway in Japan.
Other than that, it's more about brand shopping here so it's really busy compared to all the other smaller places listed above.
Sham Shui Po
Dragon Centre (Recommended)
Exit Sham Shui Po Station C2 and head north towards the main street, Yen Chow Street and it will be on the left. This place actually isn't that far from the Golden Computer Arcade - less than 10 minutes walk.
At the top floor you'll find many little stores - most have shelf space for rent just like in Mong Kok's In's Out so again you'll find a lot of rare merchandise here. There are body pillows, plushies, tapestries, posters, keyrings, figures - a huge variety of goods.
Even Danny Choo's dolls seem to be available here.
As usual, bare in mind it's not all official merch but a lot look legit. Even though some goods are unofficial (more like doujin, fan-made) they can be very well done.
The place is a multi-storey shopping centre unlike the places in Mong Kok so you'll also find a big food court and an arcade you can hang around in once you're done.
The second floor even has a dedicated room for gatchapon machines.
It's pretty much a one stop place for everything.
Golden Computer Arcade
Can't miss this place. As soon as you exit D2 you're there and it hasn't changed (well, apart from all the pirate good stores gone now). Top floor still packed with video game sellers while basement is filled with computer hardware.
Switch games go at 2/3 of the price thanks to HK's exclusion of VAT as mentioned before. Finding actual Japanese copies of games however can still be a challenge as most are Asian versions in places like this.
I always get the MTR station mixed up for this so just in case you do the same, you get off at "Kowloon Bay" not "Kowloon Tong" ^^;
For this particular branch, look for Telford Plaza signs at the metro station. You'll then have to exit Plaza I and head up an escalator to find Plaza II.
It's yet another Japanese goods department store and they don't really have much in terms of more niche merch but, if you're looking for more raw printed media such as magazines you can find some here. Their selection can't beat Sogo's, though.
There's also an "Apita" branch in Tai Koo but it doesn't have any import magazines.
What I like about the UNY stores is they all have a fast food court you can visit for ramen and other Japanese cuisine once you're done shopping. You can also stock up on Japanese food and snacks that local convenience stores might not have just like in Sogo.
If you do happen to stop by Telford Plaza II, there's also this small store on level 4 that sells a selection of Japanese merchandise too.
The place maybe small but it has quite a variety of figures and other niche merchandise such as plushies, keyrings and ornaments so it's worth a visit if you're in the area.
Oriental 188 Shopping Centre
Exit A4 turn right and head in the direction of Standard Chartered. Once you see Emperor Group Centre head down Heard Street next to it then turn left at the end.
This place which used to be rife with pirate game/Anime stores seems to be a shadow of its former glory now.
It has a fair number of game stores but not as packed as Golden Computer Arcade in Sham Shui Po to recommend.
Bootleg Figures and Asian Version Goods
Bare in mind unless you're visiting reputable large department stores like Sogo there can be a lot of bootleg goods in Hong Kong.
Arcade crane prize figures are popularly sold despite the "not for sale" tag. They're not to scale and aren't as detailed or well painted as scale figures but are still quite good quality.
If you do decide to go for them however, watch out for bootlegs which will be missing the manufacturer's logos on the box such as CraneKing and Banpresto. They can cost the same as what the authentic prizes would sell for on the market (around £10 - 15) yet, these figures will have some horrible paintwork where a lot of shiny paint is used instead of matte and faces can look off. They might not even stay upright and the sculpting's not so clean either so not worth the money IMO.
Bootleg scale "China version" figures 1/7 or bigger on the other hand can be really good which usually cost 1/3 - 1/5 of genuine Japanese figures that can cost up to £150 or more. Again, packaging will be missing the manufacturer's logos and also holographic seal of approval. Faces can look slightly off, only single tones of colour instead of nice gradients, bits of paint chipped off - especially on the props such as weapons but overall they look fairly good. It makes me wonder if they're figures that never passed the QA tests and were thrown out. All figures are made in China after all but with Japan known for quality, they must have some extremely high quality tests to pass.
Other than that, anything smaller than 1/7 and the quality will probably be worse off such as details from the clothing could be missing and parts being poorly assembled with lots of glue visible all over the place.
It boils down to asking to see the figure if in doubt really.
If it's Good Smile's Nendoroid figures you're after, genuine figures only cost about the same price of a video game (or cheaper even) at around £30 so you might as well just go for it with a reputable seller such as AmiAmi or HobbyLink. If you must get them from an independent retailer then check the quality yourself - they will have the same flaws as the scale figures such as the face looking really different.
As for video games, you'll find most of the places such as Oriental Shopping Centre and Golden Computer Arcade mostly stock Asian copies. These usually come with English/Chinese manuals and sometimes have the in-game content translated too. The main problem is they are mostly linked to the Asian online stores so if you try to play online such as on PSN you'll end up needing an Asian account which also applies to DLCs and save files you might carry over.
So be sure it actually has a Japanese age rating on it if you want to be able to use the Japanese DLC.
And that ends the list of places I managed to scout. Happy Japanese pop culture shopping!