This is a photo essay of Nakano Broadway by an anime fan, gamer, and maybe otaku. I also have an in-progress visual guide to Mandarake’s 27 shops.

Nakano Broadway Tokyo

Entrance to Nakano Broadway Shopping Centre

It’s always easier to say you came to Japan because of the ‘culture’. Conveniently leave out the ‘pop’ part of culture and list out things like the temples, the food, the crafts. Maybe drop a few names in history. You’ll get bewildered, but respectful, nods. The truth is, I grew up on a staple anime diet since Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in kindergarten. By the time I moved to Tokyo, I’d soaked myself in two decades of anime from Hikaru No Go up to the more recent Death Note, Code Geass, Durarara, Steins:Gate, Mushishi. It’s difficult to believe Baccano and Ghost in the Shell SAC are a decade old.

After arriving in Tokyo, I did a quick visit to Akihabara and wasn’t too impressed with the commercial and touristy vibe. Then, I discovered Nakano Broadway. Actually, I rediscovered it when I found Mandarake in the upper floors. Basically, I got pretty excited, and I want to show you why this place is so awesome and worth a visit.

Nakano Broadway, a shopping complex built in 1966, houses not only Mandarake’s 27 shops, but also the numerous collectible shops like Robot Robot, and specialty stores for doujinshi.

Give yourself a good half day to wander through! Directions at the bottom of this post.

Mandarake Bookstore Nakano Broadway

Hello Mandarake!

If you take the escalator from the main entrance of the covered shopping arcade, you will be whisked up to the 3rd Floor, where the main bookstore is. This is fitting, as Mandarake began as a second-hand bookshop in Nakano back in the 80s. I’ve heard that the name comes from a combination manga and darake (random stuff). Since then, Mandarake has expanded to cover all things Japanese (and foreign) pop culture. Most people know their location in Akihabara, but I much prefer their home home base here, which is more spacious and has many other independent shops.

Mandarake Bookstore Nakano Broadway

Steampunk anyone?

Of course, what caught my eye immediately was this awesome homage to steampunk. I love all the retro flyers, aliens, and neon lights that harken back to earlier decades in the 20th century.

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Steampunk Decor

More neon lights. I stared at this fixture for a while!

Dragon Ball Z Kami Mandarake Nakano Broadway

DBZ’s Kami-sama! A godly price-tag for one so small.

I like the balance between casually stacked boxes, crammed glass displays and carefully selected features. The rows and rows of boxes for limited edition Final Fantasy figurines alongside individual figures such as the one above give a reassuring sense of collection and taste. Even if I can’t buy it, at least I can oogle!

Pikachu!!! Plushies!!!!

Pikachu!!! Plushies!!!!

How can one resist Pokemon and the Gameboy games we grew up with? Of course there are second-hand console games around here too!

Dragon Ball Z's Android 18 never looked better.

Dragon Ball Z’s Android 18 never looked better.

Quality. I can’t believe the quality of the figures, and the shockingly reasonable prices. They were so much more expensive in Canada and rarely had such awesome poses.

Nintendo Earthbound Ness Nakano Broadway-1090531

Ness! Zelda! Pokemon! Winner.

This is in a small corner shop across from the Mandarake buying centre. It basically specialises in mini figures and keychains for select animes, and has figures from games I love…

As retro as you get. Bruce Lee.

As retro as you get. Bruce Lee.

This is within the red arches of Mandarake’s Henya-kan ,which houses all sorts of retro collectibles. I can’t quite trace how all the odd, usually individual, figures link up, but the collection feels oddly right. The photo below is the interior, which has everything from kids face masks to retro metal plates.

Inside the Mandarake Henya shop. Has some trippy sound effects.

Inside the Mandarake Henya shop. Has some trippy sound effects.

Gundam! *heart*

Gundam! *heart*

I’m superficial. The Gundam mechas are just gorgeous. Imagine seeing an entire wall of them, lovingly arranged.

Gundam Wing Collectible Figures Mandarake Broadway Nakano

Gundam Wing Mini Collectible PVCs

Even if I have no space or inclination to get a full figure, there are still plenty of mini ones I could choose for life on the road.

Trains! They also have subway cars.

Trains! They also have subway cars.

There’s also a train shop too! Trainspotters come for your models, vintage tickets, signs, and whatever else train-related you can think of on the 4th floor. It includes subways.

Taking a break.

Being excited nonstop is exhausting!

Despite this building’s subculture popularity, it’s still got many quiet corners.

Mandarake Nakano Retro Arcade Tourney 1090592

Retro arcade tourney!

And after the recharge, I stumbled on this in what seemed like a quiet corner with shuttered shops! The tourney ladder was basically done. There was awesome buzz around this match and still there were other guys still playing on the side.

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Nintendo Cartridges Video Games-4829

Childhood growth = Nintendo cartridges, to Sega & Sony PS Discs, to PS3

You’ll find these in the Mandarake Galaxy-kan on the 2nd Floor. There are also other shops in the building that sell video games.

The Last Unicorn Cel! My gosh.

The Last Unicorn Cel!

My jaw dropped when I saw the demon bull at the Mandarake Anime-Kan. It was one of the saddest movies I watched and left a deep impression even though I’d only seen it once. This iconic demonic bull. This place helps me rediscover childhood nuggets I’d totally forgotten!

Cel art for Mikasa Ackerman, IMHO the real hero of Attack on Titan.

Cel art for Mikasa Ackerman, IMHO the real hero of Attack on Titan.

I ordered storyboard and art books from Ebay the moment I convinced my mom to let me use her credit card online. Seeing these cels taught me a lot about how they developed characters and put together the film strips!

Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon…OMG, Sailor Saturn!

This is definitely the place where no-one will judge you no matter what you love! It’s hard to believe the Sailor Moon things we discarded years ago can fetch such prices now! Find all these magical princess related things in the Mandarake Plastic section on the 4/F.

Sailor Moon Mandarake Broadway Nakano

Never stop believing in magic, plastic wands!

This doll area was super creepy, but you should check it out.

This doll area was super creepy, but you should check it out.

Of course, this is Japanese subculture. There’s plenty of other things yaoi, adult manga, and dolls. I’m not gonna lie. The dolls were well crafted, but seeing rows of their soulless eyes and bodies, then entire shops for their clothes and accessories was a bit awkward.

Yu-Gi-Oh Blue Eyes White Dragon Mandarake Nakano Trading Cards

Blue Eyes White Dragon! Oh, Yu-Gi-Oh.

About the last trading card set I dabbled with after Magic and Pokemon. Good times!

Can't stand Eren Yeager, but this figure looks super cool.

Can’t stand Eren Yeager, but this figure looks super cool.

So many characters I didn’t even like in the original anime look so cool.

Don't forget Sanrio and Hello Kitty! Love how this little shop is so...old.

Don’t forget Sanrio and Hello Kitty! 

One other thing I love about Broadway Nakano is that it doesn’t try to be that modern or flashy. The ground floor and basement are still daily-life shopping areas. Even many of the shops here don’t seen to mind their dated decor. On the contrary, it adds to their appeal.

Ryuk's just so awesome he needs to pics.

Ryuk and Gutz!

Even if there are repeats, every display case is a new field for discovery. Each independent shop shows off their collections in unique ways. Sometimes, you’d think there’s even a logic to it – putting Death Note’s Death God with Berserk’s Black Swordsman.

R2D2. Mandarake has a special shop for Star Wars stuff.

R2D2. Mandarake has a special shop for Star Wars stuff.

Even better, there are plenty of specialty shops for other interests too. Mandarake’s Special 5 is for American collectibles. I saw a military shop, coin collectible store, and Sennheiser.

Porco Rosso

Studio Ghibli’s Porco Rosso

Those moments when you can zone in to an awesome figurine…

Yoshi!

Yoshi! (And Mario, of course)

*Yoshi!* Every time I see this photo, Super Mario World’s sound effects play on loop.

Mandarake Nakano Broadway

Retro battle ship and war plane toys.

I think I date myself when I recongise these boxes, and this is the best place to feel proudly ‘old’. What a shame the millennials grew up without these analogue things!

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Baseball-4851

Baseball collectibles in the Mandarake poster store.

I also find this place an interesting destination to check out niche cultural interests. Baseball’s huge in Japan.

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Daisharin Car Toy Models

Collectible car models

I can’t drive. I don’t have much of an interest in cars, but it was fun to look at all the mini models that have such detail. It’s a much faster way to look at the history of cars than walking through models at a museum for a lay-person like me!

Saber from Fate/Stay Night.

Saber from Fate/Stay Night. And all the other girls that capture the imagination.

Totoro Figure at Robot Robot

Totoro at Robot Robot

Robot Robot is another collectible store in the mall. It also has two Akihabara stores. I never understood the price of Ghibli things – which range from ¥300 cute figures to ¥3,000 for ugly plushies. Robot Robot also sells Disney items (think Frozen) and Barbie collectibles.

Mandarake Princess Mononoke Micro Kan-4875

Princess Mononoke’s Great Forest Spirit / Nightwalker, at an incredible price!

Speaking of Studio Ghibli, I had to include another photo. These two figures from Princess Mononoke were found at Mandarake’s Micro-kan, which I found the most entertaining. A number of shops can be a bit random in their collectible pairings, but this one tops it with pro wrestling masks, tamagochi, digimon, and other collectibles from the 80s and 90s. In the next 3 photos, you’ll see some of the things I discovered in there.

Mandarake Tamagochi-4884

Tamagochi from the 90s

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Micro Kan Wrestling Mask-4870

Wrestling masks at Mandarake Micro

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Micro Kan-4879

Superheroes!

And, even though I never became a FF Fan, I’ve always loved their art. I’m not sure I’d fork out this amount ever for a model, but the idea of having this set was pretty cool!

Final Fantasy. Love Japanese video game characters.

Final Fantasy. Love Japanese video game characters.

Even if you’re not up for ¥20,000 figures, there’s definitely something for you. Keychains, mini figures, and charms ¥150. Just look around!

So...many...choices...

So…many…choices…

Alright, here’s a sample close up from another store.

Super Mario World Keychains Cell Phone Accessories Mandarake Nakano Broadway

Cell phone accessories usually range from ¥150 – ¥800

Mandarake Special 4 Nakano Broadway

PVC & collectible figures, capsule toys, One Piece

This was basically me, every 10 metres.

This set makes Kingdom Hearts look pretty cool.

This set makes Kingdom Hearts look pretty cool.

There are so many PVC styles. This place just made anime, manga, and doujinshi come alive.

Mandarake Nakano Broadway Books-4855

Collectible books on the 2/F

I have to throw in these old prints. I’m also a bookworm, so any bound text is cool, even if I can’t read all of them!

Mandarake Nakano Broadway-1090564

One of my favourite little shops right across from the Mandarake Buying area.

This mid-century complex has its worn-down charm. Some of the stalls are shuttered and quiet. Admittedly, the Mandarake is the big draw that keeps this ecosystem of little specialty stores alive. Despite its success (check out its online store, which ships internationally), the Mandarake has stayed firmly in Nagano and made this a vibrant community and subculture hub. The above photo is of one of my favourite small stores sprinkled throughout Nakano Broadway. It sits right on a corner, across from the Mandarake Buy Centre.

Yes, this is all pretty exhausting!

Charlie Brown and Snoopy summed up my sister and me.

After being mind blown all afternoon, I was pretty contentedly pooped out!

I also have photos of the Mandarake storefronts based off their handy English map.

Address: 5-52-15 Nakano, Tokyo 164-0001
〒164-0001 東京都中野区中野5-52-15
Website: http://www.nbw.jp/index_e.html (English Site)
Hours (Daily):
Varies by shop
Generally 10:00 – 22:00
Mandarake: 12:00 – 20:00

If you liked this post, look out for my visual guide to Mandarake at Nakano Broadway.

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