October 21, 2018

Mandarake in Nakano, Tokyo: Japan’s Largest Anime and Manga Store

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  • Mandarake in Nakano, Tokyo: Japan’s Largest Anime and Manga Store
  • Most anime and manga lovers and cosplayers can be seen flocking to Akihabara as it is indeed the cradle of many cosplay and anime stores. However, there is another one-stop shopping hub for the pop culture lovers that is perhaps not as widely famous as Akihabara but is also a notable shopping destination. Mandarake is not as resounding as Akihabara is to the world, but with its long history and reputation, Mandarake is already well-known among full-fledged anime and manga fans in Japan.

    The shopping mall itself, Nakano Broadway, where Mandarake’s flagship is housed in, is an old place. The nostalgic oldschool charm can be felt as you walk along the halls. Roaming in the hallways is not as funky as in the bustling modern-day shopping district of Akihabara.

    However, Nakano Broadway is also home to nice restaurants and cafés, and connects to Nakano Sun Mall, a covered shopping street that houses many modern-day top brands of fashion and electronics. This makes the area a good destination especially for people who want to veer away from mainstream shopping hubs like Akihabara or Ginza. And if you’re a manga and anime fan, then you have a pretty good reason to go here.

    Established in 1987 in Nakano Broadway, Mandarake is one of the longest-standing and largest anime and manga stores not only in Japan but also in the whole world. It currently has 32 shops, which occupy most of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of Nakano Broadway (there is one shop on 1F – Mon which displays Mandarake’s featured products and auction items).

    Housing a melange of shops, the second floor (2F) gives a good jumpstart to your shopping spree. There are a lot of collectible toys, from Japanese superheroes to Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, new and retro video games and consoles, game cards, and DVDs, Blu-ray, and CDs of movies and animes. You can also find a cosplay shop, with an extensive display of costumes and accessories for animes like Shingeki no Kyojin, Love Live, and Sailor Moon.

    2A Special 1 – toys and figures from Ultraman, Transformers, Zoids, Votoms, and kaiju characters.

    2A Special 1 – toys and figures from Ultraman, Transformers, Zoids, Votoms, and kaiju characters.

    2B Special 5 – American toys (Marvel, DC, Star Wars, etc.), LEGO, HotToys.

    2C Card-kan – game cards, trading cards, and stickers.

    2C Card-kan – game cards, trading cards, and stickers.

    2D Special 4 – PVC and trading figures, capsule toys, One Piece P.O.P

    2D Special 4 – PVC and trading figures, capsule toys, One Piece P.O.P

    2M Cosplay-kan

    2M Cosplay-kan

    2M Cosplay-kan

    There is a particularly interesting shop, Kaguya, which displays new and vintage plastic scale models. It’s interesting because no staff looks after the shop, which makes it somewhat like an honesty shop. If you find an item you want to purchase, just press a button on the wall to call the attention of the staff. 

    2F Kaguya – new and vintage plastic scale models

    Moreover, the facade of Kaguya is unique compared to others. It was inspired by the Japanese legend of Princess Kaguya, a child of the moon who was found in a bamboo stalk.

    Entrance to 2F Kaguya 

    Manga lovers looking for new manga and magazines to add to their collection should head straight to the third floor (3F), where you can find two Honten sections, which have large collections of various manga, anime magazines, and art books. The 3F also holds more toy shops and idol goods shops.

    3C Honten 1 – shonen, shojo, and seinen manga; BL manga, CDs, and light novels

    3C Honten 1 – shonen, shojo, and seinen manga; BL manga, CDs, and light novels

    Meanwhile, on the fourth floor (4F) is where you can find a lot of vintage items, from toys to comics and magazines. The entrance to the Henya shop, where the vintage products are displayed, is perhaps the most famous landmark of Mandarake. The shop’s entrance is a short hallway lined with symbolic torii gates and is a favorite spot for a mini photo opp among visitors of the shop.

    4A Henya – vintage toys, tin toys, and promotional items

    4A Henya – vintage toys, tin toys, and promotional items

    Also on 4F are more Sailor Moon and magical girl collectibles, as well as anime memorabilia like genga (original drawing), scripts, and storyboards.

    4B Plastic – dolls and doll accessories; Sailor Moon and other magical girl goods

    4C Anime-kan- anime cels, genga, scripts, and storyboards

    With all these amazing finds, Mandarake is a charming shopping haven for all fans of anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture. It lies in a relatively quainter part of the city and offers a more laidback shopping experience. If Akihabara is a little too overwhelming for you, Mandarake is the perfect alternative for a nice shopping galore.

    Tips

    • If you plan to go on a shopping spree, perhaps tax-free shopping at Mandarake can ease the guilt for your wallet. Foreign customers who shop above ¥5,000 in total are exempt from paying tax. There is a Tax-Free Counter on 4F where you can get your tax refund. Just present your receipts and passport.

    • Mandarake is filled with temptation. The budget you should prepare depends on your level of obsession with anime and manga.

    • For convenience, refer to their flyer, which has a map and list of shops, as you go around Mandarake looking for specific items.

    How to get there

    • Nakano Broadway is an easy five-minute straight walk from the North Exit of Nakano Station, where you will pass Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai (shopping street) first.

    From Tokyo Station to Nakano Station, it takes about 23 minutes via the Chuo Line.

    From Shibuya Station, take the Yamanote Line and transfer at Shinjuku Station and take the Chuo Line to Nakano Station. The trip takes around 20 to 23 minutes.

    General information

    Address: Nakano Broadway, 5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
    Operating Hours: 12 pm to 8 pm
    Contact number: +813-3228-0007
    Website: www.mandarake.co.jp
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/mandarake
    Twitter: twitter.com/Mandarake_En 

    Also read: Tokyo Character Street in Japan: Character Shopping Spree Right at Tokyo Station!


    Written by Rei Leaño
    This first appeared in Philippine Primer English magazine’s Vol. 31 – October issue. 

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