Your Guide to Nakano Broadway, An Otaku and Collector's Paradise!
Tokyo is often described as being a blend between the old and the new, a combination of the cutting edge and the traditional. Indeed, there are some places in Tokyo that seem to be from another era tucked away in hidden pockets across the city. One of those special spaces that brings together modern goods in a nostalgic atmosphere is the shopping arcade, Nakano Broadway. Hunters of anime collectibles, used manga, rare figures, and unique fashion find themselves wandering the floors making discovery after discovery at Nakano Broadway, and end up going home with more than a few bags full of souvenirs. In today’s article, we will be exploring the ins and outs of West Tokyo’s Famous Nakano Broadway shopping complex.
Feb 28 2020 (Dec 25 2020)
What is Nakano Broadway?
While its selection of goods leads it to be often compared to Akihabara, Nakano Broadway offers a very different atmosphere and experience. Nakano Broadway feels like a place trapped in time, evoking a Tokyo from decades past with its small shops jam-packed with retro goods, toys, collectibles, games, anime-related rarities, and much, much more.
The first floor has a collection of clothes, used electronics, watch shops, and cafes that run among the long central strip adjoining Nakano Sun Mall.
If you only visit the first floor, you would be at a great loss, as the real fun begins when you ascend to the floors above to wander around the labyrinthian collection of shops there.
How to Get to Nakano Broadway
Access to Nakano Broadway is very easy, only taking about 5 minutes from Shinjuku Station on the JR Chuo Line. Alight at Nakano Station and take the North Exit to find the Nakano Sun Mall entrance. Walk straight down Nakano Sun Mall’s main strip, and after a few minutes (about 225 meters in) you will find the entrance to Nakano Broadway.
Hours and Main Attractions
There are simply too many shops in Nakano Broadway to cover extensively, so we'll stick to some of the best points of interest. There is not a uniform schedule for the hours of business of each shop, as most are independently operated, but the general hours of operation for Nakano Broadway are from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, with some shops opening as late as 1:00 pm, and others closing around 7:00 pm. Having said this, it’s probably a good idea to visit in the afternoon to get the most out of your time here.
The Mecca of Mandarake
For those of you familiar with Akihabara, the name Mandarake may ring a bell. While today this famous chain of used pop culture goods has spread throughout Japan, it all started here in Nakano Broadway in 1987. The around 30 Mandarake stores here are spread out across the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of Nakano Broadway, and cater to almost any niche collector interest you can imagine.
Read on for details of just a few of the many, many Madarake stores you can find at Nakano Broadway!
Perhaps the largest of the Mandarake stores, this location is worth a stop even to just see its huge, cyberpunk-esque facade. Used manga of all varieties can be found here for as low as 100 yen a book, or even three for 200 yen! Why not try to search out the original Japanese version of your favorite series for your collection?
Mandarake Special (1~7)
The Madarake Special stores sell collectable figures. The stores are divided into loose themes: some specialize in western characters or dolls, others focus on popular Japanese franchises like Kamen Rider and Pokémon. Try to find them all scattered across the many floors of the complex.
With its striking red gate entrance, at first glance this branch of Mandarake seems like a museum dedicated to retro toys and signs, but you can actually purchase the beautifully displayed items here! Even if you're not a collector of Showa-era memorabilia, it’s worth taking a peek inside to soak up the atmosphere.
Mandarake Anime Cells
Located on the 4th floor, this small Mandarake has authentic anime cells for sale. Many of the cells are painted, while others are the original pencil sketches. Diehard anime fans may even be able to find a scene from their favorite anime or movie for purchase!
There are only a few stores in Nakano Broadway that sell used video games, and this is probably the largest among them. All the goods are in very good condition for their age and will appeal to the discerning collector. Check it out for a retro game selection you might have trouble finding elsewhere.
Other Notable Shops
There is a huge selection of goods available from the group of Mandarake stores, but Nakano Broadway also has many other independent shops to explore. Below are just a few of the unique and quirky stores you can find here.
Located on the 3rd floor, Gaocchi is a small store absolutely filled to the ceiling with small toys and paper goods (trading cards, idol postcards, masks, etc.). Squeezing through the tiny aisles in this store taking in the colorful toys everywhere is like a sensory overload. Many of the items may be from a generation or two older than the average western otaku, but the store is still worth taking a look at.
Across from Gaocchi is the embroidered jacket specialist and general pop culture fashion store Blox. There are many beautifully embroidered jackets for sale here emblazened with the faces of your favorite anime characters (Naruto, Dragon Ball, Evangelion, etc.) or kaiju (Godzilla, Gamera, King Ghidorah, etc.)
The jackets are not cheap - some of the more expensive items will run you about 50,000 yen - but wearing one back home is sure to make a fashion statement like no other!
Fujiya Camera Shops
There are a few Fujiya Camera shops throughout Nakano Broadway that deal in both Japanese and foreign-made cameras and lenses. They offer a large selection of camera-related goods, and also carry some professional-grade filming equipment. If you're a connoisseur of film, it is certainly worth stopping by.
In the basement of Nakano Broadway you will find a very different scene from the floors above. Food and vegetable markets, fortune tellers, and used clothing stores make up the basement area.
Nakano Broadway’s fashion area is called Petit Paris. This is a good place to check out some modern Japanese looks, or even snag an affordable kimono! Both men’s and women’s kimono are on sale if you're looking to add one to your collection of Japanese memorabilia.
You'll likely get hungry exploring all the shopping options here, but luckily there are a few spots in Nakano Broadway offer some tempting snacks! Located in the basement, Daily Chico has gained notoriety for its giant eight-flavor soft-serve ice cream. This towering rainbow of deliciousness is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The flavors include strawberry, chocolate, banana, matcha, coffee, milk, grape, and ramune soda. Priced at only 480 yen, this is a must-taste experience!
You may have heard of Takashi Murakami, one of the most famous pop artists in Japan today. Murakami is well-known for his colorful and bizarre designs, most notably his smiling rainbow sunflower motif. Bar Zingaro, located on Nakano Broadway's 2nd floor, comes from the mind of this creative individual. The relaxed atmosphere and colorful food and drinks ordained with the signature sunflower image are sure to make you smile, filling your day (and stomach) with happiness.
There are many more interesting shops and hidden gems within the large Nakano Broadway complex. Half of the fun of visiting Nakano Broadway comes in the form of discovering the shops that really speak to you. There is so much to see there, you may find yourself making multiple trips during your visit to Tokyo.
If you're a fan of Japanese pop culture and collectables, Akihabara should be on your to-do list! Check out our Guide to Akihabara here. For another shopping street full of anime, manga, and game stores with a charming retro vibe, read all about Shinkyogoku-dori in Kyoto!
Header image: Osugi / Shutterstock.com
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.