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Nakano Broadway is reason enough to never step in Akihabara again

  • September 24, 2017

My trip to Akihabara this year left me more flatlined on the neighborhood than I’ve ever been before. As I’ve said many times before, I’ve never been impressed with this wildly overhyped otaku heaven and don’t feel that it lives up to its reputation in the least. Sure, there are a few nice stores and a fun arcade or two, but by and large, the area has become a tourist trap that stereotypes itself to commercially viable extremes.

Maybe I haven’t gone digging through the recesses of Akihabara enough to truly enjoy it, but after this last trip to Tokyo, I don’t think I’ll ever have to. I found a new area, at the advice of Editor-in-Chief Sean P. Aune, that perfectly embodies the spirit of all that you heard about Akihabara and is Tokyo’s truly genuine, nerdy Japanese escapist paradise of your dreams.

Nakano Broadway probably has remained free from Akihabara’s commercialization thanks to its relative inconvenience from the downtown area. While Akihara is a mere four-minute train ride, to get to Nakano from the central Tokyo station, you have to catch a twenty-minute train ride through the center of town on the Chuo Line and head out past Shinjuku to parts of the city that tourists rarely ever go.

In the Nakano neighborhood, you’ll find several major businesses advertising among the tall buildings, but by and large, it is an unassuming little slice of Tokyo that remains unimpressive and undiscernable from the rest of the urban areas that the public transit system can dump you off at. No enormous anime posters, no maid girls or idol groups advertising in the streets, no massive crowds, no noisy gaming arcades.

You honestly would never suspect that such a nerdy paradise resided in such a place. To find Nakano Broadway, you have to walk through a very standard Japanese shopping arcade into the main entrance, and even then, there isn’t a whole lot that hints to you about what lies above. The first floor consists of stores you’ll find just about anywhere in Japan, and the basement is actually a grocery store.

However, the second and third floor is like a trip into another world.

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