Friday, March 25, 2016

Japan, A Shopping Overview: Nakano Broadway

Nakano Broadway feels like it’s the antithesis of Akihabara. While “Akiba” can feel downright sterile and plastic at times, Nakano Broadway feels organic and real. The shop owners and stores feel genuine. One of the reasons for this is that many of the tenants in the shopping arcade are actually the owners of the shops. Most of the shops have been there for many years. You won’t find any fly by nighters here. The complex has a really interesting background; it was originally a luxury apartment and shopping complex built in the mid 1960’s. Up until the 1970’s it housed numerous celebrities, politicians and the like. However in the 1980’s it lost its lustre as its high profile residents moved to trendier parts of Tokyo. Around the same time Mandarake opened up its first store. As the old tenants moved out with their high profile residents, niche hobby stores and the like moved into the empty shop spaces over the next twenty or so years. The resulting shopping complex while heavily weighted on the hobby side, still has a number of mainstream businesses nestled throughout.

The layout of the shopping complex also has an interesting history. Supposedly the creator of “Dragon Quest”, Yuji Horii once said he was inspired by the rather confusing layout of Nakano Broadway for the dungeons in the RPG. You may want to take that bit of info with a grain of salt. Anyway, to get to the complex take the Chuo-Sobu Line. Nakano station is three stops away from Shinjuku station. Take the north exit and head straight towards and through the Nakano Sun Mall (中野サンモール) which is a covered strip mall. 225 metres later you will come to the entrance of Nakano Broadway. Note that most of the shops open around midday (as the vast majority of them are Mandarake shops) however some of the smaller ones do open around 10am. The best way I find to tackle Nakano Broadway is to take the elevator to the fourth floor and work your way down to the first. The basement only has clothing and food stores (which may or may not be of any interest to you). To get to the elevator, take the first right after the entrance (don’t go up the escalator), then the next left. The elevator will be on the right hand side and is quite small. On the fourth floor standing outside the elevator to your left, you will be assaulted by the noise of Nakano TRF, a game centre which opens from midday.

Moving around the floor in a clockwise direction, the first shop you’ll come across is Mandarake Mania Kan. Here you’ll find old manga and magazines, anime mooks (magazine/books), Japanese movie programmes and vinyl records. Across the hallway is Kanransha which has a fantastic selection of movie paraphernalia for western cinema, Japanese cinema, anime and tokusatsu films including movie programmes, posters and flyers. The shop used to be an utter mess with crap everywhere, but on my last visit I noticed that it is much more ordered and you can actually find what you’re after quite easily. Next up and the Mandarake shops Mandarake Special 6 (robot toys and figures including die-cast metal Popy and Bandai Chogokin robots), Mandarake Plastic (dolls and accessories), Mandarake Anime Kan (anime cels, backgrounds and key animation drawings), Mandarake Ryusenkeiziken (model trains) and Mandarake Henya, which is the company’s showcase store of advertising paraphernalia, vintage toys and Showa era antiques and oddities. The Tori gate at the entrance and lighting on the floor make it the most unusual stores in the complex. Nestled in-between these stores is a rental showcase store called Final Piece.

Around the corner is Anime Shop Apple Symphony which contains a huge range of anime cels for rather cheap prices. I’ve bought a number of cels from this shop, mostly magical girl and shoujo stuff from the 1990’s. They also have some general anime merchandise and original drawings used in the animation. Up a bit further is Mandarake Kaiba which contains anime art books, reference and sub culture books. Along with Mania Kan, these are the two Mandarake shops I spend the most time in. Beyond that is Ai Ai Toys which is wall to wall gatchapon for the most part (open from 1pm, closed on Wednesdays) and Marumo Shoutengai which mostly sells figures, gatcahpon and cards.

Down one level on the third floor at the southern end, we start with Alphaville (open from 1pm) which sells nothing but bishoujo PC games. From here in a clockwise direction we come to the first Robot Robot store on the floor which has mostly figures and gatchapon. Next door is the first Trio store which specialises in male idols, specifically those managed by in the infamous Johnny & Associates production group such as SMAP, Kinki Kids, V6 and Arashi. Two games shops; Yu Vic which has nothing but cards and Tomato Land who deal in new and used video games. Next we come to a cluster of Mandarake stores; Mandarake Infinity (male idols), Mandarake Special 2 (Kamen Rider and sentai toys, Macross toys and anime plastic models), Mandarake Special 3 (Gundam, Evangelion and Disney toys and figures as well as video games), the main Mandarake store headquarters which contains used manga and the buyback store.

Further on we have Havikoro Toy which deals in figures, mostly shokugan toys and gatchapon, BLOX which has a lot of western pop culture merchandise but also focuses on Michael Jackson memorabilia, Gaocchi who deal in items from the Showa era including toys, baseball cards and other merchandise and the second Trio store which mostly deals in general idol merchandise, mostly AKB48 stuff. In between these is Recomints, a record store. They used to have a second store which dealt exclusively in used anime and tokusatsu CDs, DVDs and blu-rays, but this shut down a year or so ago. Right at the top of the northern end of the floor we have Fukuo Stamp Sha which deals in stamps and coins, with Tacoche next door which sells self-published books and fanzines as well as independently published CDs and other merchandise. Right at the very northern end of the floor is A-Moju (open from 1:30pm, closed Wednesdays) which carry Pez dispensers and merchandise as well Star Wars, Smurfs and Tom and Jerry figures and merchandise plus other western pop culture goods.

Around the corner is the second Robot Robot store which has mostly western figures such as Star Wars and transformer toys and the like. There is also a formula one motor racing merchandise store called F-1 Collection Signass, the second Liberty shop which has figures, some garage kits, model trains and cars, some plastic models and some used blu-ray and DVD. Further along is Omotya no Pony which is small mainstream toy store. Rounding out the hobby stores on this floor are Toy Burn which deals mostly in Shonen Jump related merchandise and figures, Para Box which a doll collector’s paradise and Antique Nakano Broadway which sells Showa era toys and merchandise.

Now we venture on to the second floor of Nakano Broadway. This floor has a large number of rental case stores; Avanse (open from 12:30pm, closed Tuesdays), Clear, Collector Toybox Bowwow (also specialising in soft vinyl toys and bishoujo  figures), Toreka (closed Wednesdays), Cube Style and Vent Vert (mostly teddy bears, Disney merchandise and other similar items). And this floor is also heavily dominated by Mandarake speciality shops; Mandarake Card, Mandarake Cosplay, Mandarake Daisyarin (die cast cars), Mandarake Deep (doujin for men), Mandarake Galaxy (games and related merchandise), Mandarake Kaguya (model kits), Mandarake Katsudou Shashin (movie posters), Mandarake Live (doujin for woman), Mandarake Micro Kan (Kinkeshi type erasers, mostly Kinnikuman related), Mandarake Special (soft vinyl kaiju toys, garage kits and other related plastic toys. This shop has the huge Tetsujin 28 out the front), Mandarake Special 4 (old capsule toys, PVC and trading figures, bishoujo figures and garage kits), Mandarake Special 5 (American and other foreign hero toys) and finally Mandarake UFO (anime and tokusastu DVDs, blu-rays, voice actor and game related CDs).

But there’s also a heap of other shops on this floor; the third Robot Robot shop (specialises in magical girl merchandise and figures as well as Ultraman soft vinyl toys and US children’s toys), And Toy (anime merchandise), Bigyard (model trains), three Lashinbang stores (used DVDs, Blu-rays, dojinshi, anime, game related CDs, figures, merchandise etc.), Merry-Go-Round Toy Store (figures and shokugan toys), Bamboola (Shonen Jump and Studio Ghibli merchandise), Poppoya (model trains, closed Wednesday), Nozaki Coin, Aloha Toy (anime figures and merchandise for women), Disc Five (DVD, Blu-ray, games and consoles, closed Wednesdays), Game Station (new and used games and game consoles), Alf (die cast model cars) Books Rondo Sha (second hand books, closed Wednesdays), Antique Ajisai (western curios, antique dolls, teddy bears etc., closed Wednesdays), Havikoro Toy Cardshop Kaizokuou, the third Trio shop (male and female idol merchandise), Nakano Vintage (plastic models, train models, Showa era merchandise and collectibles) and Anime World Star Goods (anime cels and some anime merchandise, closed Wednesdays).

Finally to the first floor; two gaming arcades, Adores Nakano and Namco, Cardshop Treasure (telephone cards), Freedom Garage (Shonen Jump figures and gatchapon), the second Havikoro store (anime merchandise for women), Ikukan (rental case store, closed Wednesdays), Plabbit (completed Gundam models and hobby accessories, closed Wednesdays) and Mandarake Mon, a display store for some of their showcase items, which is right at the entrance of Nakano Broadway. The basement floors mostly have food and fashion stores. Shops in the complex don’t change as much as other areas, but you may still want to check the shops website (if they have one) to confirm if they’re still operating and their opening hours if you are heading to specific shop. Note that many of the stores don't open on Wednesdays, so it's probably not the best day to go to the complex. Sorry for the poor selection of photos in this post. Nakano Broadway doesn't really like patrons to take photos inside the complex and unlike other foreign visitors, I have chosen to adhere to their request.

Next time in my anime shopping series I’ll be looking at Osaka, in particular Nipponbashi (aka Den Den Town) in the Namba area as well as some other anime shops in Osaka that are a little bit off the beaten track.

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