Japan 2007: Nakano Broadway Mall

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Nakano Broadway Mall is pretty darned cool. Located at Nakano JR Station just a few stops from Shinjuku, Nakano is your typical Japanese mall, except 75% of the ‘typical’ stores have been replaced with shops aimed squarely at hardcore otaku. From the arcade areas to the original art and animation cells to the manga and the toys to the idol goods and video games… just fucking everything. You will spend a fortune, nerd, so be sure to bring one with you.

I had such a good time here. To see some of the amazing stuff we found at the mall (like that original Tezuka sketch up top going for $1500 or so), just keep reading.

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For this trip we were joined by our host David and his adorable son Noa. Bringing a toddler to a shopping mall full of insane nerd stuff was probably not the best idea, but he ended up behaving well and having a great time. This is us on the walk to the train station.

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As I’ve been mentioning throughout the entire travelogue, the release of the new volume of Ai Yazawa’s Nana was a big deal. As you can see in the background Japanese commuters do still read on the subway trains.

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And these dudes were both reading Nana Volume 18. Nifty 🙂

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That covered walkway at the bottom of the pic leads to the entrance to Nakano Broadway Mall… sort of. You see, to get to the actual mall, you’ve got to walk through that long covered shopping arcade first (with the glass curved roof and the two suns on the front of it). Effectively, you’ve gotta walk through a different mall to get to the mall you want. Luckily it’s right across from the train station (and I wanted to include this picture so you could actually find the place) but… yeah. Japan. 🙂

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At the end of the corridor (past the McDonalds) is the real entrance to Nakano Broadway. On the right there you can see foreigners walking out with their purchases. I have to say: Otaku Mecca has a pretty impressive entrance. It’s like God is shining down on it from above.
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It’s a little hard to explain the mall to outsiders, but essentially, the space is 4 stories tall (with one basement level) and features tons and tons of small-to-medium sized stores, as well as dozens and dozens of heavy-duty display cases. The stores also have display cases in them for their regular merchandise, but the majority of the cases feature consignment-goods from other sellers. It’ll have a price on it, and a barcode with the seller’s info encoded into it, and if you want something from the case you just call over the guy watching you like a hawk and he pulls it out, scans it, and takes your money. As such, there was tons of stuff to look at (and photograph) and considerably fewer shopkeepers to scream at you about taking photos (although I did get yelled at a few times… gomen nasai!).

Above we’ve got a collection of rare manga and fanzines. If you have to ask how much any of them were, you couldn’t afford them.

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Heh…

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Hahaha… Oh man.

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Just as a reminder, the 1 Canadian/U.S. dollar is worth about 100 yen, meaning that you can re-buy your childhood for between $20 and $630 a pop above.

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The yo-yo shop on the third floor featured the third-best yo-yo (player? artist) in the world. You should check out the video of him doing his thing, it’s pretty cool:

http://comics212.net/japan/DSCF4500.AVI 

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This is the outside of one of the Mandarake manga stores, I believe. Sort of? Anyway, Mandarake is a huge used manga chain that also deals in all sorts of Japanese pop-culture ephemera. The manga was awesome. I really, really didn’t want to get kicked out of this one, so I only took one photo of the inside:

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This is one of… maybe 8 or 9 aisles like this, packed floor to ceiling with manga. It was breathtaking. The sales staff showed me where the Taiyo Matsumoto shelf was, and then I just grabbed everything off of it and bought it all. It was all used too, so like, $30 for 9 books. Kick-ass!

You can see Mandarake’s (man-dah-rah-kay) website at http://ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en/index.do. They seem to have an English-language webstore now, for all of your otaku needs.

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Smurfy. The Baby Smurf toy is creepy, it’s all off-model.

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Remember Popples? I do. I can’t even believe I do, actually.

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It’s the Glico running dude! With two different anglicizations of his name! Cool, but not $50 cool.

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I seriously had to just cut out video-game purchases all-together. I mean, video-game toys are one thing, but I don’t think it’s safe to just have access to any video game _anything_ that you have ever wanted, in working order. You just have to draw a line.

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That doesn’t mean I didn’t look though. 🙂
Then, we went into an ‘antique’ store, which was amazing.

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This one was my favourite. This is a doll that would totally fucking murder you.

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Naruto is popular!

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Then we went to lunch.

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Then I went and spent a like $70 on Super Mario Brothers related things. It was… it was so cool. The wall of Mario is cool. I know, you probably don’t believe it, but at least 50% of the stuff up there not only looked perfect, it also made noises from the games. I wanted to spend more than I did, but I was already really, really pushing it. I mean, how was I gonna get all this stuff home even? Still: awesome. Awesome.

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Patrick Macias’ Cruising The Anime City: A Guide To Neo-Tokyo spent a lot of time talking up TACO che, an indy comics/arts/manga store next to some dude selling ultra-accurate replica weaponry.

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It was a fun store, but really crowded when were were there. I’m not a small guy by any means, and so I found browsing a little difficult. Still, I did manage to pick up some cool stuff like unreleased Junko Mizuno manga, a gay erotic art collection, and a fan-made tribute manga to Japanese horror manga master Kazuo Umezu. That was pretty nifty.

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Exceptionally popular capsule-toys. Oh, speaking of Capsule toys…?

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One of the capsule machines had NO.5 toys, based on the Taiyo Matsumoto manga that I love. Talk about cool (and rare!). I spent $24 acquiring these. ^______^;;

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Hehehe.

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Then it was late, and we needed to head to meet David’s lovely wife Kiko in Akhiabara, but you’ve already seen those photos.

For every photo I took there were 10-15 that I didn’t, and probably should have. More original one-of-a-kind sketches, original manga art, original Studio Ghibli animation cells, toys, manga, art books, more manga, more toys, it just went on and on and on. Go there. Go. Now. Nakano Broadway.
– Christopher
P.S.: Next: Ramen museum.

12 thoughts on “Japan 2007: Nakano Broadway Mall”

  1. I absolutely loved this placed when I went to Japan last May. Looking at your photos brings back a lot of great memories. I need to get myself back there soon!

  2. Sweeeeet. I still can’t imagine how much stuff you brought home. (Or how much it all cost.) Thanks for more great photos.

    Favorite from this set? “Lucy: Of the Peanuts comic strip.” Good to have it spelled out like that. 🙂

  3. Oh man, I had that Popeye squirt gun when I was a kid. I totally forgot about it until just now. I never realized how… funny it was.

    Looking forward to the Ramen Museum!

  4. Hey Chris! Sounds like you’re having a ball here – glad you caught the pancake drink before it’s discontinued; there are also little foil-wrapped Morinaga pancake chocolates around at conbenis. Good gifts! I love Nakano Broadway Mall – it’s very astute of you to advise bringing some serious yen, as drooling will go into overdrive. One of my favorite stores there is Shop Mecano, which specialises in 80’s new-wave/electronic music of all stripes. I’m a total geek over 80’s J-new wave and I’ve never seen the likes of this place – Mecano has stuff I’ve spent years looking for. Here’s a link to the shop:

    http://members3.jcom.home.ne.jp/mecano/

    Your blog entry always comes up if I’m looking for Nakano Mall info… keep up the good work! I will visit your shop next time I’m in Toronto!

    Cheers!

    Brian

  5. Lots of great photos! Why did you get yelled at for taking photos? I will be landing in Tokyo next week, is there a strict policy on taking photos inside a store? Do share!

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