Any visitor to Tokyo interested in anime and manga will surely have Akihabara high on their to-do list. However, on the other side of Tokyo, Nakano Broadway is just as much a must-see for fans of Japan pop culture. A short walk north of Nakano Station, Nakano Broadway is a four story shopping mall whose second and third floors are entirely dedicated to anime, manga and collectibles. It can be easy to lose your bearings once inside, but the shops listed below are all notable for the range and quality of their merchandise.
For manga lovers, this Nakano institution is incomparable. Mandarake is a second hand comic book shop, with prices ranging from 105 yen (around $1) for sale items to several million yen for rare, signed or one off pieces such as an original sketch from the Hayao Miyazaki classic anime “My Neighbour Totoro”. With manga lining the walls from floor to ceiling on all sides of this three-floor emporium, you’re sure to find whatever you were looking for and much else besides.
Anime World Star
Anime World Star (sorry, web page in Japanese only) is the shop to visit if you’re looking for original celluloid prints, commonly called cels, from your favorite anime series. Small or partial cels selling for as little as 1000 yen (around $10), and larger, complete cels from just 4500 yen (around $45), they are a unique souvenir that needn’t break the bank. With more than 100,000 in stock at any one time your only problem might be narrowing down the field to a few favorites!
For those who prefer models to cels, Robot Robot should be your first stop. Up on the third floor, it is stacked to the rafters with an astounding range of Japanese toys and collectibles. From six inch high Godzilla figurines right through to life size Ultraman models, if you can’t find a figurine of your favorite character here, the chances are that you can’t find it anywhere.
In this shrine to Japan pop culture it’s easy to lose track of time, so the best thing to do is browse until your stomach tells you it’s lunchtime. Then head down to Nakano Broadway’s basement, where tiny restaurants jostle for space, serving cheap, tasty yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), okonomiyaki (a thick pancake with pork, etc.) or ramen (noodle soup) all for less than 1000 yen (around $10). If you feel like dessert, don’t miss the chance to try one of Daily Chico’s oversized Tokudai Soft Creams, an ice-cream with ten flavors piled on a cone like a sweet skyscraper. These sell for a very reasonable 390 yen (around $4), and watching people work out how to tackle the monster is nearly as much fun as eating one yourself!
If the ice-cream gives you an energy boost, you can make another assault on the stores upstairs. Or you might choose to relax with a coffee, simply people watching and enjoying your day in this unique palace of Japan pop culture. Just don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs!