This might come as a shock to some of you, but I’m considered a geek in certain social circles. I don’t know if it’s because of my analytical thoughts on Terminator vs. Robocop or my spot on impression of a light saber, but people just seem to really like casting that label on me. Personally, I don’t see it. Usually I just blow it off. Other times I point at them and yell “expecto patronum!” Besides, I don’t even like Akihabara, the so called “otaku haven” to idol chasers, anime aficionados, game addicts, and people willing to pay money to rest their head on a strangers lap. I’ve always preferred Nakano Broadway. It’s massive emporium for all things geek. Overstocked with anime, collectibles, tech and all the niche stuff you can find in Akihabara, only condensed into one big shopping mall.
I used to really like Akihabara, and it can be great for finding cheap knock-offs and tech parts. The first time you visit you’re overwhelmed by the number of shops and awkward anime girl billboards everywhere. But after making the trek to Akiba Town so many times, it’s really lost its muster. Today, Akihabara feels more like a tourist trap while Nakano Broadway feels like it really caters to your taste. Every shop is special or unique. Meanwhile the main strip of Akihabara is filled with duty-free stores that rip you off, game shops with fixed prices all down the line, and maids that refuse to take a picture with you. Even though I asked really politely and you still wouldn’t do it!
Not only that, but if you’re looking for old school items, don’t even try Akihabara outside of the Mandarake store. On the other hand, Nakano Broadway is a nostalgia goldmine. I have no idea what a Naruto is or how someone can make a show about Clorox Bleach. I ask my high school students if they like YuYu Hakusho or Tenchi Muyo and they just stare at me like The Children of The Corn. I mention Yokai Watch and they’re suddenly the most attentive English students in Japan. I don’t know if I’m just old or blissfully uncool. Probably both. Either way, Nakano Broadway has all the oldies. You know how long it would have taken me to find a Yusuke Urameshi charm in Akihabara?
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Speaking of Mandarake, Japan’s largest distributor of collectibles, Nakano Broadway is the store’s flag ship. While there is only one Mandarake amidst the dozens of Softmaps in Akihabara, 26 Mandarake specialty shops make up all four floors of Nakano Broadway from sports memorabilia to Star Wars. Their main office is even located on the top floor. The retail corner located on the 3rd floor in particular is a real sight to behold. Thousands of people buy and trade anime, manga and collectibles here every week. It’s like an otaku version of the Tsukiji Fish Market. If you’re looking for something in particular, there is a pretty good chance you’ll find it in Mandarake.
You don’t even need to be an otaku to enjoy Nakano broadway. The basement, first floor and alleyways around Nakano Broadway are packed with “normal” stuff from Uniqlo to Izakayas. Also worth mentioning is the famous ice cream shop Tokudai Soft Cream found in the basement. It makes the trip to Nakano Broadway worth it alone for its “eight layer challenge.” As the name implies, it’s an eight layer tower of soft-serve ice cream on a cone all for the cheapo price of 390yen. Whether you consider yourself a full-fledged otaku or you’re just interested in the curiosities or others, or even if you just want a massive ice cream induced brain freeze, Nakano Broadway has a little something for everyone.
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