Final Trip to Nakano

Hello everyone and welcome back to Tiro Finale. Approaching the end of my short stay in Japan, I decided to pay the hobby stores in Nakano's Broadway Mall one final visit before I bid the country farewell for the considerable future. Ever since my first visit to Japan, Nakano has always been a big part of my trips to Japan and sometimes even more so than Akihabara. 

So much so that over the years I have developed several traditions associated with the locale. Such as, a regular visit to the Mr. Donut there, one of the few Mr. Donut outlets in Tokyo which offered their donut buffet course. 

Then, there is the original Mandarake in Nakano which first started of as a simple pre-owned manga store which eventually grew to become one of the biggest hobby stores both in Japan and around the world. Since then, various other big name hobby stores, particularly those in the re-seller's market, have popped up stores in Broadway Mall too. But, Mandarake still reigns as the king of Nakano with three floors of specialty stores guaranteed to consume your entire day in the blink of an eye whether you are a first-time or regular visitor. 

For all the times that I have paid a visit to Mandarake Nakano, its charms never seem to wear off. Unlike Akihabara which can tend to become a little too over-saturated with tourists at times, Nakano always feels fresh and manageable. While there certainly are a sizable number of tourists on any given day in Nakano, it never feels overwhelming and the fact that the Broadway Mall has not changed in years, keeps the grass-roots feeling very much alive. Undoubtedly, there is nothing quite like discovering a rare find in the various mounds of merchandise in stores.

Nakano's identity never started off as one as an otaku-haven but, like Akihabara, it gradually molded its image befitting its circumstances. For first time visitors, it may be easy to group the Broadway Mall in the same light as Radio Kaikan or Akiba Culture Zone in Akihabara. That is, a mall dedicated entirely too hobby stores. Take a closer look though and you will start to see a different picture because, the Broadway Mall started off first and foremost as a community arcade with shops catering to people's everyday needs. That fact is still very much apparent when you browse both the ground and basement floors of Broadway Mall which features normal, everyday stores selling groceries and clothing.

In a sense, this is what I believe has kept Nakano so fresh and alive where the sense of community has not been limited to only a single group. When you visit Nakano, you are not visiting your community but, rather a community.

Before I put an end to my musings on Nakano and my love for it, it is also very important to point out that the Broadway Mall is not just one sort of otaku. This is because, the mall also houses many of the most iconic watch and audio visual shops in Tokyo. Moreover, there is always even the odd art exhibition or so. From time to time, the opposite Nakano Sun Plaza even holds various events and auctions.

It goes without saying that for anime and manga fans alike, Nakano is a unique place unlike any other that deserves an equal amount of attention to Akihabara. But deep inside, I personally feel that the spotlight ought to remain on Akihabara lest Nakano begins to lose all of the charm and character it built up over the decades.

With that, we have to come to the end of my short musings on Nakano. Of course, there will be a follow up (Diamond Rush) article featuring key finds from Nakano. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments section below. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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