Nakano Broadway sells anime merchandise for fans of all ages
By JUSTIN GONZALEZ | SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 24, 2018
For devotees of anime and manga — Japanese animated media and comic books — Tokyo has plenty of shops, cafes and even arcade games for otaku, or nerds, to get their fix.
The most famous neighborhood for anime fans is Akihabara, a vibrant and busy district in central Tokyo. But a relaxed shopping plaza just west of Shinjuku offers plenty for anime lovers to enjoy, too — and without all the fuss and crowds usually associated with Tokyo’s better-known otaku hangout.
Just a short walk from Nakano Station, Nakano Broadway is a four-story treasure trove of individual shops selling goods featuring some of Japan’s most famous anime and manga franchises — and some obscure ones, too. Here, shoppers can find a wide variety of items, from keychains to costumes, featuring their favorite characters.
Despite its reputation as an anime-lover’s haven, Nakano Broadway is a bit difficult for first-timers to find. The easiest way to get to the shopping center is to take a detour through Sun Mall, a covered shopping arcade directly outside the station’s north exit.
Walking through Sun Mall may make you feel like you are in the wrong place, as the shopping center has many restaurants and clothing stores unrelated to anime. But you’ll eventually reach Nakano Broadway’s entrance at the end of the road.
Head to the upper floors to discover numerous shops selling figurines, comics and rare collectables. There are so many stores in Nakano Broadway, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
There is something for every type of pop culture fan at Nakano Broadway — even those unfamiliar with Japanese franchises. Several stores specialize in American toys and comic books, with plenty of Star Wars, Gremlins and Marvel merchandise on offer. Some stores also sell vintage video games and gaming systems, with many old-school Nintendo titles to choose from.
For anime-themed clothing, check out the shops on the second floor to outfit your wardrobe with gear inspired by “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” Naruto, One Piece, and the Dragon Ball franchise.
Mandrake, a popular second-hand manga chain, has a large shop on the second floor, as well as a few satellite shops throughout the complex. These smaller shops are extremely specialized, with some selling vintage kaiju, or monster, figurines dating from the 1950s and 1960s.
For fans of newer anime, Passage Store sells figurines of characters featured in the long-running Shonen Jump manga magazine, while Cuba Style specializes in figurines from anime and manga franchises like Sword Art Online, Mega Man and Sailor Moon.
On the third floor, visitors will also find a Studio Ghibli store, featuring items inspired by the studio’s popular animated films like “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” Ghibli films are popular among tourists and locals, making this a great place for souvenir shopping.
Cosplay fans will enjoy browsing Candy One, located on the third floor, which sells a wide selection of costumes, makeup and wigs essential for assembling the perfect anime-inspired look. Some of the costumes on offer include outfits inspired by Sailor Moon, Black Butler, Naruto and Madoka Magica.
For something truly special, head to the fourth floor, where you’ll discover shops selling art books and original animation cels from classic anime series. Although most of the books on offer are written entirely in Japanese, I still enjoyed browsing to see artwork and designs from some of my favorite anime franchises.
If all this shopping makes you hungry, head to the basement floor, where the locals buy their groceries and where you can grab a bite to eat at any of the food stalls. For an Instagram-worthy treat, try the famous eight-layered ice cream cone (550 yen, or about $5) at Daily Chico.
With four floors, it is easy to spend hours exploring everything Nakano Broadway has to offer. Whether you’re a total anime geek or just a casual fan of a show from your childhood, it’s the perfect place to browse for a special item to remember your time in Japan.
DIRECTIONS: Nakano Broadway is accessible via the JR Chuo Lines and Tokyo Metro Tozai Lines at Nakano Station (5-minute walk). From Nakano Station, take the north exit and head north through the Nakano Sun Mall shopping street. Nakano Broadway is located at the end of the shopping arcade.
TIMES: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
COSTS: Prices for items vary, with some goods as cheap as 20 yen (about 15 cents), to some rare collectable items running more than 100,000 yen.
FOOD: Restaurants are located both in the basement of Nakano Broadway, and in the immediate vicinity around Nakano Station.
Shoppers at Nakano Broadway in Tokyo peruse the many manga comics at a Mandrake chain store. The shopping center is a four-story treasure trove of individual shops selling goods featuring some of Japan’s most famous anime and manga franchises — and some obscure ones, too.
ALLEN ONSTOTT/STARS AND STRIPES