Nakano Broadway | Tokyo’s Alternative Nerd Wonderland

The entrance to Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway shopping area for anime and gaming goods

If you have any pride at all as a fan of anime and manga, you must have heard of the legendary area of Tokyo known as Akihabara by now. After all, this place is basically the geek capital of the world. Ever year, countless numbers of Japanese and foreign nerds make pilgrimages to this sacred otaku town. Alas, as more and more people have fallen in love with Japan’s pop culture, the number of people frequenting Akihabara has exploded overnight. While this mecca of all things nerd is still well-worth your visit, these days the area is certainly more jammed that it used to be. As a result, much like the fashionable area of Harajuku, Akihabara has lost a bit of the charm that put it on the map to begin with.

What’s a self proclaimed otaku to do? Well, unbeknownst to many foreign visitors, Tokyo actually has another nerdy enclave stashed away near Shinjuku. Known as Nakano Broadway, this shopping complex is famous for its multiple stores that peddle all sorts of anime and video game related paraphernalia. Spread across four levels, you’ll find a whole host of specialty stores selling anything from collector’s items to figurines to old video games. Honestly, Nakano Broadway is nothing short of a massive emporium for all things geeky. A journey here checks all the same boxes that a visit to Akihabara would, albeit without the incessant swarms of tourists on the hunt for a good maid cafe.

While it would be a stretch to say that Nakano Broadway has completely ousted Akihabara as the go-to place for scouting video games and anime collectables, the shopping arcade is far more compact. In fact, the first time you visit, you’re bound to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of shops hawking an eclectic assortment of goods. What’s more, each of Nakano Broadway’s shops is entirely unique and many cater only to a specific theme. Looking for age-old Star Wars toys? There’s a shop for that. What about Dragon Ball figurines? You’ll find those in spades too. Frankly speaking, it’s hard to imagine Akihabara having treasures that you can’t uncover somewhere within the Nakano Broadway complex.

How to Get There

As the name would suggest, Nakano Broadway is located in, well, Nakano. This area of Tokyo is situated quite close to the major transportation hub of Shinjuku. To get there, all you need to do is make your way to Shinjuku Station and then take any of the Chuo Line trains heading out of the city. From there, it’s only a matter of minutes until you reach Nakano. As always, just refer to the ever-helpful Jorudan or a similar service to simplify things by calculating the best connections for your individual point of origin. Given the phenomenal quality of this hidden gem, it’s surprisingly easy to reach.

Once you arrive at Nakano, all you need to do to reach Nakano Broadway is depart from the station’s north exit. There, you’ll find a 225 meter long covered shopping street that goes by the moniker of Nakano Sunmall. This serves as the approach to Nakano Broadway so all you need to do is follow it to the very end. En route, you’ll pass a number of restaurants as well as your typical izakayas. These make for great places to grab a nibble and take a break after after a long day of nerding out in Nakano Broadway.

Exploring Nakano Broadway

A collection of anime figures at Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway

Ok, so I definitely don’t want to entirely spoil all of Nakano Broadway for you. After all, most of the fun is popping in and out of the endless maze of cubbyholes. As you’ll see for yourself if you make the journey, it feels like there’s something crammed into every nook and cranny of Nakano Broadway. You can very easily lose the better part of a day pursuing its many shops if you’re not mindful of time. Hell, there are even a number of great cafes within the Nakano Broadway complex should you feel the need to recharge. Really, what more could a nerd ask for!

Now, as mentioned before, the entire Nakano Broadways facility is comprised of a total of four levels. On the second and third floors, you’ll find the majority of shops selling anime and gaming related goods. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to uncover it here. The degree to which some of these stores take things is bound to surprise even the most infatuated geeks. Also, lest you think that Nakano Broadway is solely for nerds, know that the ground level also sells all sorts of clothing and second hand goods. Moreover, the basement level hosts a marketplace where locals frequently shop for grocery items.

Lastly, before moving on, also note that the basement floor features a very famous ice cream shop known as Daily Chiko. What makes this vendor so famous? Well, they have an incredible eight layer challenge that is bound to put you into a diabetic coma. While the flavors on offer tend to change based on the maniacal whims of the management, this 20 cm tall monstrosity is basically reverse engineered for Instagram. At only a mere couple hundred yen, you’d be a fool not to give this challenge a shot!

Other Nearby Attractions

A statue of a Tengu at Yakuo-in on Tokyo’s sacred Mt. Takao which is not too far from Nakano Broadway

While western Tokyo has yet to establish a major foothold overseas outside of the popular Ghibli Museum, there’s an epic amount of things to do in this part of the city. If you continue to head west, you’ll encounter the likes of the following attractions:

Until next time travelers…

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Donny Kimball
Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media.

Articles: 306