Mandarake for Collectibles
So three years in to Sailor Moon Crystal, we know what to expect with the latest installment. The disproportionate limbs and tediously long transformations are here to stay. Maybe I’ll piss off fans to admit I forward 50% of most transformation-laden episodes. But I still keep watching.
A year ago, a colleague found out I was photographing anime locations around Tokyo, so she suggested that I adapt some photos her friend did for Sailor Moon. As someone who gravitates towards the Shitamachi, the “Lower City”, I can imagine most of my cycling routes from Tokyo University, through Ueno and Asakusa, down Jimbocho, to Nihonbashi, to Ginza and finally to the canals of Fukagawa, where I used to live. But Sailor Moon’s location of Azabu-Juban in the posh, hilly south part of Tokyo is a black hole in my navigation map. With Doni’s permission, I borrowed her juxtaposed photos and screencaps and explored the history behind the places she found.
Azabu-Juban was established in 1962 (the Showa era) as a smaller neighbourhood in the Azabu area. Juban roughly translates to “the ten” and, in this case, refers to the samurai residences from the Edo period. The large fuedal properties have since been subdivided, but the area still has residential plots — a luxury in Tokyo. Despite its mega-city status, Tokyo still has rooted communities in all its namesake pockets, which begins with a commercial street for everyone to get their errands done. Ichinobashi to Sendaizaka is Azabu-juban’s shopping area and even boasted one of Tokyo’s only natural hot springs until 2009.
Located close to Tokyo’s embassy area, Azabu-Juban is one of Tokyo’s trendiest and most sought after residential neighbourhoods in Minato Ward. The area is also close to the Tokyo Tower, which features often in the Sailor Moon series, and commercial areas such as the Roppongi Hills mall, and Hiro-o.
This tiny park hosts an annual matsuri, festival, in August so you will find it on Google Maps under the name of the event 麻布十番納涼まつり. In fact, Azabu-Juban has its own neighbourhood website, complete with shops, restaurants, and events.
Shibuya has its Hachiko. Ikebukuro has its owl. Azabu-Juban has its Girl with the Red Shoes, said to be inspired by the Japanese nursery rhyme “Akai Kutsu” (Red Shoes), which in turn had further inspirations. The poem written in 1922 by Japanese poet Ujo Noguchi is popularly believed to be based on the life of the girl, Iwasaki Kimi, who died at the Toriikazu Church orphanage in Azabu. When Kimi’s mother, Kayo, married Shiro Suzuki and moved to Hokkaido, she arranged for her 3-year-old daughter to be adopted by American missionaries to spare her the harsh northern frontier. Kimi contracted tuberculosis just before her adopted family, the Hewitts, returned to the United States. At the time, tuberculosis was incurable, so the Hewitts left her with the church. Kimi died in 1911 at the age of 9 and her mother never found out even though she had moved back to Tokyo. It is said that Ujo Noguchi met Kimi’s stepfather, Shiro Suzuki. In 1973, Shiro and Kayo’s third daughter claimed that the girl in “Akai Kutsu” was her half-sister, Kimi.
The shrine Rei and her grandfather take care of has its real-life counterpart in the Azabu’s Hikawa Shrine (氷川神社). The kanji character for ice (氷) was replaced with the word for fire (火). Not only do they look alike, they also are pronounced exactly the same way: “hi” the name of the shrine remains the same.
Thanks to Doni, I placed another corner of Tokyo in my mental map of historical trends, economic shifts, and enduring little neighbourhood charms. If you have an area you’ve photographed and want written up, feel free to message me any time. 🙂
This Sailor Moon post is adapted from images posted on the blog Doni Has Wanderlust with the author’s permission.
This post has been updated and was first published on Odigo on October 3, 2016.
I assume you’ve heard of the anime Durarara!! (DRRR!!) if you’re here because Ikebukuro as an area is rarely on the top of anyone’s to-visit list, local or international. And if you haven’t, I would suggest checking this supernatural slice-of-life anime out. This anime location scouting post is part of a side project I started in my last months before moving out of Tokyo. I had a part-time job, so with the remaining time, I wanted to do something that would get me to explore the city more and give me a reason to take photos.
What follows is a map of the sites for the anime that you can preload onto your phone for your own walking tour and juxtaposed screencaps and photos by yours truly. The text is my random commentary about the stories in Ikebukuro that fascinate me.
A first arrival at Ikebukuro Station will probably throw you back to the opening scene of Durarara, where Mikado waits anxiously for Masaomi. The station is the intersection fo the JR trains, the Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi, Futoshin, and Yurakucho lines, and 3 private rail lines. Ikebukuro’s traffic is second only to Shinjuku Station, carrying 2.71 million people daily.
Unlike Shinjuku Station, it is possible to cross underneath Ikebukuro Station to get between the East to West sides, both of which have landmarks. Ikebukuro’s West side is famous for the TV drama West Gate Park. Most of Durarara’s most iconic scenes are on the East, which is where I head to take the rest of the photos.
Ikebukuro’s East exit has a prominent Seibu department store, which has a nice rooftop beer garden for chilling with friends on a warm evening. In addition to the wall that is Seibu, you can head north towards the BiC Camera electronic department store. Personally, I like shopping at this location more than the ones at Shinuku and Shibuya because it’s usually less busy. Competitor electronic stores are also across the street, so you can do all your electronic shopping with much less of the touristy jostling here.
From the Seibu intersection, one can simply follow the crowd down the main shopping area towards Sunshine City. The area livens up at night and are often so lively the cars know to use other routes.
When I told a local Japanese friend I wanted to go to Ikebukuro, she asked, “Ikebukuro? What’s there?” She is the Ebisu type. Ikebukuro, especially on the North-East side of the station reveals its rougher edges as an immigrant area.
Ikebukuro was once a village that – as the name suggests – once had multiple ponds. The current Ikebukuro Station actually stands on the area historically called Sugamo (stations and area names tend to shift a few kilometres in modernization). Since the Taishō and Shōwa periods, its relatively low land prices as an outskirt of Tokyo attracted artists and foreign workers. To this day, the area is one of Tokyo’s most international, with over 7% non-Japanese residents. Personally, I would come here for everything from Chinese supermarkets to Middle Eastern restaurants.
For a somewhat underdog area, Ikebukuro boasted the tallest building in Asia between 1978 and 1985. As the name suggests, the Sunshine 60, has 60 floors and held its position as Asia’s tallest building until 1985 when it was surpassed by the equally imaginatively named 63 Building in Seoul. But the Sunshine 60 would remain Tokyo’s tallest building until the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings were completed in 1991 and soon became another anime landmark.
Sunshine 60 is part of Ikebukuro’s most famous complex, Sunshine City. Sunshine City occupies the old location for the Sugamo Prison, but now consists of four buildings that make up this city complex. Housed in Tokyo’s largest “city within a city” is a vast shopping mall, an aquarium, an arcade observatory, museum, planetarium, hotel, and office buildings.
The Studio Ghibli‘s licensed store the “Donguri Kyowakoku” and the Pokemon Centre are both housed within Sunshine City.
Note that the photo above is the Tokyu Hands entrance to Sunshine City, where many face offs take place in Durarara.
Perhaps unintentionally, Durarara also immortalized Ikebukuro’s highways and overpasses through one of the series’ most beloved characters: the headless rider, Celty. The overpass is right beside the Tokyu Hands and wraps around Sunshine City, where the motorcycle chase scenes take place. The entrance ramp to the highway is further down (and on my map).
If you are wondering how I concluded this unassuming side street is the location for Simon’s sushi shop, the red flute-like decorations on the wall of the building in the corner gave it away. It took me a bit of circling around before I found it!
Lastly, I want to circle back to the Ikebukuro Cinema Sunshine near the top. Given all the “Sunshine” names in the area, one would have thought it was an Ikebukuro thing. Maybe it is, but Cinema Sunshine is actually a cinema chain that began in Ehime Prefecture, off the main island of Honshu. The company was founded in 1943, and its first building was opened in December of 1978, but the Ikebukuro branch opened only in 1985.
While I could go on about this area that quickly became one of my hang-out staples after moving to Tokyo, I figured I would stop here for now. Rest assured, I’ll share other shots I take of the area that are so familiar to us fans. 🙂
In the meantime, you can check out other mapped & photographed anime locations in Shinjuku!
A visual guide to Mandarake’s shops at Nakano Broadway, based off of the official store map. You can get a sense of the things you’ll find here in my photo essay.
Most people who are interested in anime, manga and gaming make Akihabara a top Tokyo destination. It’s a pretty interesting place to see, especially with all the lights at night. I personally prefer Nakano Broadway, the shopping mall from the 1960s that is the home of the first Mandarake. The complex is home to Mandarake’s 27 stores and a host of other independent specialty shops that range from coin collectibles and watches to video games and headphones.
For people who are visiting Tokyo for the first time, it might be difficult to imagine how Mandarake’s online shop manifests in real life. Below, I’m sharing quick and dirty visuals for what to expect when you go through this area. Give yourself at least half a day to explore!
The levels begin from the top (4th Floor) down to the ground level, where the entrance is. This is also to correspond with Mandarake’s map, which is ordered from #1 to #27.
Note: Linked items direct you to my Nakano Broadway photo essay which has close-ups.
It’s actually several store units, each specialising in their own dolls, teddy bears, and magical girls. Included some examples in my photo essay of Broadway Nakano.
It’s like a mini museum. There are story boards and cels from classic anime from the 80s right up to recent years.
I love this upper bookstore. Most of the stuff is in Japanese, but the art and design books are quite international. It’s even better than a lot of art book stores. For Japanese readers, I also found many interesting historical books (i.e. Edo Tokyo and Japan).
It’s difficult to explain what makes this shrine to vintage and tin toys so cool. Just walk through the torii.
The art books that you’re probably ordering online will be housed here! In addition to the gorgeous collections like CLAMP X and Angel Sanctuary, you’ll get the vintage comics and magazines as well.
Train models, goods and train parts, N-gauge, HO-gauge stuff here.
This is Mandarake’s Robot & Mecha store. Of course, there’s the Gundam, Macross, Evangelion, stuff. There are also many other shops within the building that sell these models!
English speaking staff available
Where you can sell your items to Mandarake.
I don’t quite get their collections here, as it’s quite random. However, you’ll find collectibles from many of the most popular anime and video games, Disney movies, and LEGO collections. Basically, it’s a good first stop to see what they have.
Shounen, shojo, seinen manga. Boys Love manga, CDs. Light novels
Goods from male idol groups (Japanese & Korean), Male seiyu & actors
Superhuman / Sentai Toys (Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Hero, Power Rangers)
Seinen manga, light novels, subculture, adult manga, hobby & anime magazines, artbooks
PVC & Trading Figures, capsulre toys, One Piece POP
Basically Ultraman, Transformers, Zoids, Votoms, Kaiju characters.
American toys and artist figures. I’m not sure why Lupin the Third is also thrown in, but it is!
Game cards, trading cards & stickers. Nostalgia incarnate.
Basically, pick up your entire Anime DVD and Bluray set here. You’ll also find the soundtracks and CDs.
Since I don’t own a console anymore, I didn’t tempt myself by sifting through every isle. However, I did see plenty of games I’d not seen before in Canada. I also saw tons of cartridges! I included some items in my photo essay of Broadway Nakano.
Baseball’s huge in Japan, so one side of this store includes jerseys, signed baseballs and other related items. The rest of the store includes lots of vintage posters and is good for retro inspiration!
Complete sets that are perfect if for last-minute anicon decisions.
Find your favourite rare models here. Have one shot in my photo essay of Broadway Nakano.
This one is a hilarious mash of items. There are tons of rubber figures, 80s & 90s Anime collectibles (digimon etc.), pro wrestling toys & masks, Studio Ghibli items, and tamagochi. Check my photo essay of Broadway Nakano to see some of the items.
New & Vintage plastic scale models
Special products & auction items are right at the entrance on the ground level. It’s actually more like a showcase wall rather than a shop, although there is someone inside to help you!
Map of the building: Mandarake has a handy English guide
Some of the things you’ll see: my random photo essay of figures, shops, and collectibles.
|Address:||5-52-15 Nakano, Tokyo 164-0001
|Closest Station:||Nakano (Metro Tozai Line, Chuo Line, Sobu Line)|
|Website:||http://www.nbw.jp/index_e.html (English Site)|
Varies by shop
|Generally 10:00 – 22:00
Mandarake: 12:00 – 20:00
Also join the Japan Forums Slack Community to ask questions and share info in real-time!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
How can one resist Pokemon and the Gameboy games we grew up with? Of course there are second-hand console games around here too!
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.
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…
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.
I’m superficial. The Gundam mechas are just gorgeous. Imagine seeing an entire wall of them, lovingly arranged.
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.
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.
Despite this building’s subculture popularity, it’s still got many quiet corners.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
About the last trading card set I dabbled with after Magic and Pokemon. Good times!
So many characters I didn’t even like in the original anime look so cool.
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.
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.
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.
Those moments when you can zone in to an awesome figurine…
*Yoshi!* Every time I see this photo, Super Mario World’s sound effects play on loop.
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!
I also find this place an interesting destination to check out niche cultural interests. Baseball’s huge in Japan.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Alright, here’s a sample close up from another store.
This was basically me, every 10 metres.
There are so many PVC styles. This place just made anime, manga, and doujinshi come alive.
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!
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.
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
|Website:||http://www.nbw.jp/index_e.html (English Site)|
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.