Nakano Broadway is a shopping complex in Tokyo, Japan famous for its many stores selling Disney collectibles, used anime, video games, toys, books, souvenirs, antiques, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. In this shopping guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before heading to Nakano Broadway.
We first visited Nakano Broadway several years ago, at the recommendation of an American friend who curated an exhibit on kawaii and otaku culture via the shops at this “hidden gem.” At the time, it was exactly as advertised: a rough-around-the-edges hodgepodge of stores and a geek’s paradise.
For the most part, it’s still that. Nakano Broadway retains its “repurposed aging mall” vibe, with an eclectic cornucopia of secondhand stores, plus an alternating mix of vacant storefronts and shops that are packed so full you can barely navigate their cramped corridors. However, it also has something else: tons of tourists…
As tourists ourselves, we can hardly complain about this. Moreover, it’s good to see Nakano Broadway filled with patrons, as it appeared to be teetering on the precipice of closing our first couple of visits. We mention this not because we have any disdain for our own kind–just so you’re fully prepared for the reality of Nakano Broadway.
There’s no shortage of YouTube videos and blog posts pitching Nakano Broadway as the Akihabara Alternative; a hidden gem oasis away from the hordes and crowds. To be sure, Nakano Broadway has a small fraction of the tourists as Akihabara. It also definitely has more of an upstart, grungy, and authentic vibe than anywhere in Akihabara. Still, Nakano Broadway is hardly a hidden gem these days. You’ll encounter plenty of people here.
With that said, Nakano Broadway is absolutely worth visiting if you’re into Disney, Star Wars, Japanese pop culture (not traditional culture), American pop culture, anime, comics, sports, and so on. Basically, anything vaguely geeky (even though those broad topics are fairly mainstream) or niche interest.
Nakano Broadway is a place for scoring hot deals and discount second hand items. It’s like a flea market/swap meet/antiques show, rather than a traditional shopping experience like you’ll find elsewhere in Tokyo. In other words, you won’t see designer storefronts or boutiques–pretty much everything else is fair game.
Nakano Broadway is far and away our favorite place to shop in Tokyo. We usually spend around 2 hours here and drop around $50 or more–or enough to fill up a packable duffel bag.
Aside from a handful of Book-Off stores (there’s a great Book-Off Plus in Shinjuku and an even better Book-Off Super Bazzar in Saitama near the Railway Museum) and specific locations in Akihabara, nothing comes close for us. That’s entirely a matter of personal preference, though.
Getting to Nakano Broadway is pretty easy. It’s a short walk from Nakano Station (maybe 5 minutes) on the JR Chuo Line, which services both Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations. You can use the local, rapid, or most express trains. (As we’d hazard a guess that many of you will be coming from JR Maihama Station, you transfer at Tokyo Station–it’s about an hour commute in total from Tokyo Bay.)
Upon arriving at Nakano Station, go out the north exit and enter the arcade of Nakano Sunmall, which is a covered shopping street. This mall has a UNIQLO, McDonald’s, several conveyor belt sushi restaurants, and a variety of other discount retailers.
Once you enter the Nakano Broadway complex, we’d advise starting on the third floor and working your way down. We’d suggest perusing the various stores, because you literally never know what you’ll find in each of these secondhand shops. (It’s also a recommendation we’re making since we don’t know your interests.)
We visit Nakano Broadway for Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea collectibles, so our first stop is always Robot Robot 2 on the third floor. This is the largest venue for all things Disney and Americana. The Disney stuff is immediately inside to the right, hanging from the shelves, strewn on the floor, and within the locked display cases.
There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what’s in the display cases, so don’t write it off as the “expensive stuff” you won’t be able to afford or want to buy. While it generally is the pricier items, we’ve found 200 yen cups under lock and key several times. There’s very little consistency–it usually pays off to ask to browse the display case.
It might be unclear when you enter, but Robot Robot 2 spans two storefronts–the marked one, and an unmarked (and unmanned one) to its left. Both have Tokyo Disney Resort items, and you pay for all purchases in the main Robot Robot 2 shop, which accepts credit cards.
Pricing is also all over the place. We suspect many prices are determined by the whims of staff on any particular day. We primarily buy collectible glasses, coin purses, plush badges, CDs, Blu-ray, and books–there’s no consistency to the pricing of any of these items.
We’ve scored some beautiful souvenir glasses that are 200-400 yen, while other very similar (sometimes identical) ones will be priced at 1500 yen or more. The moral of the story here is that you should keep browsing/looking/digging until you find the deal you’re after.
With that said, the vast majority of secondhand items throughout Nakano Broadway are sold at a discount, Tokyo Disney Resort merchandise included. There are some antiques shops that are an exception to this general rule.
Additionally, all things Duffy are generally priced at a premium. (Sarah buys the occasional discounted Duffy coin purse, but we’d estimate that 90% of Duffy and friends items are priced higher than their original in-park prices.)
Other good stores for Disney items include Mandarake, Elf Special, Collectors Mart, Merry Go Round Toys, and several others. Basically, pop into anything on the third and second floors that appear pop culture related.
You might quickly realize they sell items you’re not interested in (there’s some odd stuff at Nakano Broadway), or you might see the opposite.
Either way, it’s better to explore and discover for yourself rather than me trying to list everything off exhaustively–especially given that the inventory of each store is churned constantly, and new shops pop up while others disappear.
For us and other Disney fans, Robot Robot 2 is the one big must-do. (In addition to Tokyo Disneyland items, they also have stuff from Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California–including a cool but expensive Captain EO plush that’s been there for about 5 years!)
After you’re done shopping on the upper levels, be sure to head to the basement. There are a few can’t miss stores here.
First, a Daiso 100 yen shop; this is Japan’s version of a dollar store, but with (some) items that are actually of decent quality. You’ll probably encounter several of these throughout Japan (we prefer Seria), but this Daiso is a good one.
Next, there’s Daily Choco, which is home to the internet-famous and comically-oversized Tokudai Soft Cream, an eight-flavor soft serve skyscraper that defies gravity and costs less than $4.
It’s a fun novelty, but it’s also shockingly delicious. (Be sure not to walk and eat it; not only is that a faux pas in Japan, but it’s against the rules here.)
Finally, a Seiyu grocery store. This is Japan’s version of a Wal-Mart supermarket–in the literal sense, it’s actually owned by Wal-Mart. Whatever your personal feelings about Wal-Mart, set those aside and check this out. It has decent grocery store sushi & sashimi, and is also a great spot for finding obscure flavors of Pepsi and Coke that are exclusive to Japan.
If you need more background info or a map of Nakano Broadway, you can find both on the mall’s official site (in English). Honestly, your best bet is just going there, wandering/getting lost, and stumbling upon whatever you stumble upon. We’ve only called your attention to these specific venues so you don’t miss them; you should make a point of exploring beyond the handful of stores we’ve expressly listed.
Overall, we think Nakano Broadway is a ton of fun–but it’s also not for everyone. Just by looking at the photos and reading the first few paragraphs, you should have a pretty good idea of whether it’ll appeal to you. Nakano Broadway has changed a lot over the years and I’d say the “hidden gem” status bestowed upon it by some vloggers is dubious, but I’m also not going to go into “get off my lawn!” mode here either. If anything, the influx of tourists has helped revive Nakano Broadway, or at least keep some of its more tenuous shops in business. We still manage to walk away with some good finds each trip, so I can’t complain too much!
For all of your planning needs–from places to stay to things to do and much more–please consult our Ultimate Tokyo, Japan City Guide. If you’re planning a visit to other cities, please check out my other posts about Japan. If you’re doing the Disney Parks, be sure to consult our Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea Vacation Planning Guide.
Have you been to Nakano Broadway? Do you think it lives up to the hype–or at least the reputation of being a strong Akihabara Alternative? If you’ve visited both, which Tokyo shopping district did you prefer? Score anything great here? Additional tips or thoughts from your visit to add? If you haven’t been to Nakano Broadway, what interests you most about it? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!