Nakano Broadway, the lesser-known but equally fascinating counterpart of Akihabara, is a must-see destination for fans of Japanese pop culture. On the other side of Tokyo from Akihabara, Nakano Broadway is home to a myriad of stores specializing in Japanese anime, manga, toys, video games, collectibles, and souvenirs.
While Akihabara offers the latest in tech and electronics, Nakano Broadway boasts an impressive and nostalgic selection of rare collectors’ items. With over two dozen Mandarake stores spread throughout the mall, Nakano Broadway caters to even the most seasoned otaku veterans. For those who are unfamiliar, Mandarake is one of Tokyo’s largest secondhand vendors, where fellow otaku buy and trade anime and manga-related merchandise. They’re also known to carry vintage, signed, and exclusive one-of-a-kind pieces; so if you’re looking for something extra special, you shouldn’t skip Nakano Broadway!
What is Otaku?
In history, the term otaku used to carry negative connotations and was used to isolate socially inept individuals, especially men, with introverted interests. Nowadays, men and women alike identify as otaku and are perceived as enthusiasts and hobbyists of Japanese pop culture, including, but not limited to, anime, manga, video games, and pop idols, thanks to their rising acceptance and popularity in the Western world.
Otaku are proud of their identity and are often seen dressed up as their favourite pop idols or fantasy characters at fan conventions.
Even if you aren’t an otaku yourself, a visit to Nakano Broadway can bring a newfound appreciation for this captivating and uniquely Japanese subculture. It can all seem a bit overwhelming when you’re new to the whole thing, but a stroll through Nakano Broadway is sure to provide an afternoon of entertainment — and maybe more, especially when you recount to your friends back home of some of the most memorable items on sale, including eerily humanesque plastic dolls and funny slogan tees that got lost in translation.
Exploring Nakano Broadway
By this point, you’ve probably wandered about long enough to have worked up an appetite. Fortunately, at Nakano Broadway, the range of food options is almost as extensive as the merchandise. Down on the basement level is the marketplace, where locals go for produce, meats and seafood, and other groceries; but there are also fast food joints, cafes, snack shops, and even dessert spots to choose from. As if that isn’t enough, there are yet more bars and restaurants to try within the alleyways surrounding Nakano Station, so you can rest assured you’ll not go hungry.
Likewise, if you’re looking to do more traditional shopping, the area outside of the mall has plenty for you to browse, from book stores, watch and jewelry repair shops, arcades, and fashion boutiques. You’ll also find familiar souvenirs, apparel and footwear, and even some specialty tech and photography retailers on the ground floor of Nakano Broadway. Just be wary of the time, as the stores at Nakano Broadway are notorious for their sporadic opening and closing hours.
Nakano Broadway is nearest to Nakano Station, served by the JR Chuo Line. From Nakano Station, take the north exit and walk for about five minutes until you reach Nakano Broadway.