Where Akihabara fails, Nakano Broadway succeeds. This shopping centre in Nakano, Tōkyō, has just about everything the geek shopper requires, and a heck of a lot of things you don’t know you need until you see them.
It seems so innocent at first: a little shopping arcade with snack shops, a kimono store or two, pottery shops, cafés, restaurants and an ice cream parlour lulls you into a false sense of security. You can take your partner here. You can fool him or her into thinking that, ahh, this is a lovely little place that’s out of the way where you can shop for souvenirs and… hey… wait a second… is that Tōkyō’s largest Mandarake there? Oh, no, of course I didn’t know this was here, darling! Gosh! Four floors of anime goods, gachapon, collectibles, cosplay gear and manga? Tragic. Absolutely tragic. Still, never mind, now that you’re here you might as well make the most of it…
Make no mistake. You will be here for hours. All day, if you’re travelling alone or with an amenable partner. You will spend all your money, you will buy amazing things, and you will wonder why in the name of arse you wasted a day at Akihabara yesterday. Mandarake alone occupies about twelve shops across four floors of Nakano Broadway, and there are a handful of non-Mandarake shops which also sell goodies you want. Each of Mandarake’s stores has a speciality: Cosplay costumes, collectible cards, doujinshi, model kits, DVDs, CDs, console games, pre-opened gachapon, artworks, toys, comics, figurines, bonus goods (i.e. giveaways from cereals, that kind of thing), animation cels and vintage manga all have their own shops. This saves you rooting through every single shop when only half that list interests you.
Getting there couldn’t be easier, either. Nakano Station is on the JR East East Chūō Line, the JR East Chūō-Sōbu Line, and the Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line. Head for the north exit – there are usually Mandarake posters near it. Exit the station, use the crossings to get safely across the roads, and follow the covered shopping street lined with restaurants, newsagents, a chemist, and the like. At the far end of this street is Nakano Broadway, so seamless it’s almost a continuation of your covered walkway. For all the geek goodness, keep going, past the innocent, non-otaku shops that lure in the unwary, toward the rear of the shopping centre.
For more information, see:
http://www.mandarake.co.jp/shop/floor/nkn.html – Mandarake’s floor guide, or click here to see it through the eyes of Google Translate.
http://www.nbw.jp/ – Nakano Broadway’s website.