Tokyobling's Blog

Nakano Broadway – The Other Akihabara, Part 1

Posted in Places, Shops, Stuff by tokyobling on July 13, 2009

It used to be that Japan was all about Samurai and Geisha, the Ginza and sushi. In other words, history, food and high style. These days it seems that nothing has been able to capture the minds of foreigners and Japanese as well as Akihabara. You must have heard of it by now, the electronics and geek capital of Japan. Well, today I am going to tell you a little about the other Akihabara, a place you might never have heard of: Nakano Broadway.

A sampling of the stuff you'll find at Nakano Broadway - The other Akihabara

A sampling of the stuff you'll find at Nakano Broadway - The other Akihabara

Nakano is a city in Tokyo located in the western part of town. It is famous for being one of the least developed areas of Tokyo and has a reputation for being a cheap place for foreigners and students, even though it is also the home of the first Marui department store (or OIOI department store as many foreigners know it). The streets are crowded and relatively messy. The clubs and shops cater to a less monied class of Japanese. But it is also the home of the greatest shotengai (shopping street) in Japan: Nakano Broadway. Consisting of two parts, a covered street and an indoors shopping arcade it is very popular with locals and savvy people from all over Tokyo.

So what makes this place the Other Akihabara? Well, Nakano was the first and foremost place for geeks and nerds from all over Tokyo, they had toy and figure shops before anywhere else. They also had some of the very first maid cafes in Japan. About ten years ago Akihabara culture started picking up both in Japan and abroad and naturally most geeks diverted their attention there, hence Nakano Broadway suffered and several shops went under, most of the upper story arcades were deserted during day time. But as with most actions there is a reaction and as Akihabara started to become exploited and crowded, under the attention of too much capital and developers, people started returning to Nakano Broadway and sometime this year the place has blossomed again being bigger than ever. This is where the serious geeks and collectors go, the serious foreign fans of anime culture and cosplay. It’s a place where few tourists find their way and hopefully it will be a grow even stronger in the years to come. Tomorrow I will post part 2 of this post, going even further into depths of Anime geek heaven! Stay tuned.

The covered shopping street at the north end of JR Nakano Station

The covered shopping street at the north end of JR Nakano Station

This is the place to go if you are looking to buy a lot of everyday goods, food, clothes and electronics at dirt low prices. You’ll find some of the cheaper brand stores as well but most of it are shops catering to the budget minded.

This alcohol shop has stock that is so old it would classify as antique

This alcohol shop has stock that is so old it would classify as antique

These kind of shopping streets called shotengai (商店街) are quite common all over Japan but arguably the best ones are in Osaka, stretching for kilometers! Nakano Broadway is not that long but even here you can get anything from prescription eye glasses (the examination is a DIY affair: peek into the box, answer the questions and hit print to get the results. Once inside the shop the staff will fit your glasses into the frames of your choice for less than the price of a cocktail at a fancy Yokohama hotel.

DIY eye checker

DIY eye checker

But you’ll also find more expensive electronics, antique stores, gun shops, etc. One of my favorite places (related to work of course) is this fantastic shop for school uniforms. It is getting better and better every year. New this year is a complete selection of Benetton uniforms. Great stuff.

Benetton school uniforms on sale at Nakano Broadway

Benetton school uniforms on sale at Nakano Broadway

For aspiring DJs there are also a fine selection of shops selling second hand gear at bargain prices. Being Japan, you can count on second hand stuff being very close to mint condition – Japanese people know how to take care of their stuff.

Second hand turntables at Nakano Broadway

Second hand turntables at Nakano Broadway

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3 Responses

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  1. Riechan said, on April 28, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Cool! I would love to visit!

    Like

  2. […] get far too excited when I go to Nakano Broadway.  The area is well-known as a geek and collector-freak paradise.  I love it there.  My eyes […]

    Like

  3. vimontra said, on October 9, 2014 at 6:25 am

    i went there once in 2010. And i will go there again this year

    Like


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