Today, John explores Nakano Broadway, a shopping Mecca for anime fans and collectors of toys, figures, music, antiques and other goods. Dominated by a a store called “Mandarake,” Nakano Broadway is like all the stores in Akihabara crammed under one roof but smaller and without the annoying gauntlet of maids…
After fueling up at Mister Donut, John and Andrew discover that Nakano station is at the very end of the Tozai line, and if you recall the Tozai subway line stops at Monzen Nakacho. No changing trains on this journey! Storm clouds are starting to roll in so I’ve taken my umbrella and left the big camera safe in the apartment, you never know about this Tokyo weather.
Our subway stops at Nakano station, the last station for the Tozai line although the train continues on towards Chiba. After this stop at Nakano, the train gets a new engineer and magically becomes a new line. This explains a few properties of the line map and I am also intrigued by the fact that the subway and JR trains share the same physical track!
We exit Nakano JR station and find the Nakano Shotengai no more than 50 feet away from the exit of the station, now that’s convenience! The Nakano shopping arcade is very familiar featuring a covered walkway, restaurants and a verity of shopping all with big sale prices. We’re here for Nakano Broadway, though, which lies at the end of the shotengai.
Andrew and I have different shopping goals so we split up and explore seperaretly. Wow, this place is amazing, it really is just like having all of Akihabara under one roof. The arcade is dominated by the one standout store “Mandarake” which is famous for its manga selection but also sells figures and all the other necessities of anime and manga collecting.
I start by purchasing a few pedestrian manga titles at Mandarake, including volume one of a food manga I’m reading… and then I suddenly discover “Cat Shit One” on the shelves! This is a series about cute furry animal mercenaries in the Vietnam war and is VERY hard to find! It was also translated into English as the series “Apocalyopse Meow” which I might also pick up if I need help translating the Japanese version. I also picked up the first Ghost in the Shell bilingual book and Appleseed collected comics volume one (although I already own several of the full size comics).
There are tons of tin toy, CD and DVD, figure and anime collectible and game stores as well. Nothing really peaks my interest (that I can remotely afford) however. I make my way up to the third and finally fourth floor and find an anime cell store. This is very cool but like most anime cells from series that were produced with cells, the prices are way out of reach of my wallet.
And serendipity begins its work in my life again…
I ask the vendor behind the counter if he has any cells from “Tsukikagi Ran,” an obscure anime series about a woman ronin that I really like a lot. He reaches behind the counter and pulls out a stack of cells all from Tsukikagi Ran and I can’t believe the luck of this! Even better, he walks over to his shelves of bound cell collections and pulls out an entire folder of cells. All of the cells feature excellent poses of Ran and her goofy sidekick Lady Meow and they are all dirt cheap…
Andrew joins me and we continue to explore the many cool stores. We are particularly taken by the antiques and pulp comics and books dating all the way back to the golden age of Science Fiction. I recognize a periodical behind the glass case called “Kodomo No Kuni”… “Children’s World.” There are many titles by Tezuka including ORIGINAL Astroboy, Kimba and other manga serials. The printing and color of these manga and serials is just flat out gorgeous.
Problem is that all of these books and comics are as pricey as they are old and beautiful, selling for tens of thousands of yen each.
We pass through a series of red tori gates, passed glass cases containing figures and models from both Western and Japanese pop culture such as The Monkeys, The Beatles, Batman, Astroboy, Ultraman and enter into a small store that more resembles a science fiction set, than a store, with many expensive tin toys behind futuristic glass cases. The tin toy robots are rather intense in this store. The store is bathed in an ambient futuristic sound scape to complete the experience.
We pass a book store with a magazine periodical rack and I notice a magazine devoted to vocaloids, a “vocalic tabloid” if you will. Andrew discovers a very desirable, full-size GI Joe Buzz Aldren figure and later purchases a manga series collection from the late 1960’s. There is a whole case devoted to Fujiko F. Fujio, the creator of the popular character “Doraemon.” And on and on it goes… sweet things from Studio Ghibli, figures, model trains, an authentic antiques store with baseball memorabilia, old commemorative items, glassware and much Americana.
A store called Lazy Cat… that is closed and shuttered. Now that’s lazy!
It’s getting late so we break for dinner at a good Ramen place that, like most restaurants in Japan, is short on space to sit but not lacking for delicious hot food. Tonight I have ramen and pork with a soft boiled egg and a side bowl of rice.
While we’re waiting at the station for the train to take us back to Monzen Nakacho, a white haired Japanese gentleman strikes up a conversation with Andrew, apparently to practice his English, but Andrew suspects he might be a politician. Hmmmm… I didn’t see a political pin which they often wear but he holds himself like a politician or businessman, and is particularly curious about our political party affiliations.