Hong Kong Japanese Pop Culture Stores Re-Visited
It's been 8 years since I last wrote about where to find import Japanese pop culture/otaku Anime goods from shops around 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 4.5 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... Mainstream merchandise localised in Traditional Chinese such as One Piece, Gundam and Dragon Ball can easily be found everywhere.
However, goods for the niche show that most likely only Anime fans will know such as Psycho-Pass and Steins;gate can still be tough to find. Detailed (and expensive) scale figures are rare so you will need to know where to look to find the rarer merchandise.
Here are some of the places I have scouted.
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. And this is outdoors in the streets, not indoors!
With all that said, here's a list you can visit...
For your printed media needs you can find a range of magazines, comics, light novels and even art books all in its original Japanese text here. Unfortunately they don't always stock popular works such as Shinkai's artbooks for some reason.
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 on level 11 where the "Sogo Club" starts. You also need a "membership card" (more on that later) to get to the bookstore floor too so it hasn't exactly become welcoming but might allow people to shop in more peace.
Their prices aren't in HKD unfortunately. 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.
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.
Their toys floor has some crane game prizes for sale but don't expect niche or scale figures there.
There's another Sogo in Tsim Sha Tsui but don't bother with that outlet as it only sells mainstream fashion and travel goods.
Some time after writing this guide in early 2018, they started to require "membership cards" to access level 11 and beyond. You can get one immediately simply by filling in your name and email address on a form at the escalator where a staff member is posted. You can also install their store app but I haven't tried that method yet.
Don Don Donki
And just 5 minutes walk away is Japan's rebranded bargains store, Don Donquiote. There are multiple branches around HK including one in the popular tourist area of Tsim Sha Tsui but most of them are only a single floor high. This one is four floors high (or three if you exclude the food court floor) which means a bigger selection of goods of course.
As with most stores, this place only sells crane game prize figures for mainstream shows but it has a whole lot more variety of merchandise including Nendoroids.
Most of the store is food and daily necessities related and they have a theme song playing on loop which might get to your head.
Their own brand of Furikake (rice seasoning) is horrible so if you're thinking of getting that, you might want to avoid it; just watch out look for the packets with four yellow squares on the front and donki.jp printed on the back.
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.
There is only one or two stores that sell scale figures while the odd store do a deal if you buy mutiple crane game prize figures.
If there's something rare you're looking for you'll most likely find it here.
This local store has closed around 2020 since writing this unfortunately.
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.
Sino Centre (Recommended)
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 that also sell the more detailed scale figures when you head upstairs but, I don't think they have as much unique items as In's Point. If you can't find an artbook or printed media at Sogo, then you just might find it here. I even managed to find a raw copy of the Your Name art book here.
Music fans looking for signed photos of your favourite Asian JPOP/KPOP 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.
Langham Place, Kaiten
This place is just right behind underground exit E1 so as soon as you come out, look backwards and the tall building there (probably with lots of people) will be it.
They used to do movie posters but not any longer it seems. There isn't much pop culture goods but, if you head to the 11th floor you can find a variety of goods. The layout just reminds me of Nakano Broadway in Japan but have fun finding the lifts!
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
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.
At one point I recommended this place but unfortunately most of the stores that sold rare merchandise including body pillow covers and tapestries seem to have closed down now. There are still a few stores left but most have been replaced by gachapon and arcade crane game machines now or KPOP related cosmetic stores.
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 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. Most of the sellers will be honest about it being bootleg.
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. Or just a big reputable department store like Sogo or Donki above. Only downside is they might be "Asian versions" which won't go for decent prices if you plan to sell them again later so check the packaging.
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!
Any idea what is the shop name of the pic that you post for CTMA , believe that shop is located at B2 right beside the escalator that is going upwards. I looking for that shop name and is managed by 2 ladies. I went last year but cant remember the shop name .