Sunday, May 4, 2014

Japan Trip XX: Nakano Broadway

The day after karaoke night, Lindsay had a meeting at the Hobonichi office. Rather than having us wander around aimlessly, she took us to a place where we could wander around safely while she was gone.

So, we spent a few hours wandering around a multi-story indoor mall called Nakano Broadway, which turned out to be an otaku's wonderland.

One reason we went to Nakano Broadway specifically was because we were meeting up with another person for the Earthbound, USA documentary: a guy known online as eagle0wl.

Eagle0wl is primarily connected to Fangamer through his generous donations of many, many official MOTHER 2 figures and plush toys, which we've set aside to auction for charity purposes. They were all caught in crane games in Japan after Banpresto did a surprise MOTHER 2 crane game toy campaign a few years ago.

Before then, eagle0wl had never really played crane games. He specifically mastered them in order to get the MOTHER 2 toys. After clearing out several machines' worth of toys, he ended up with more than he knew what to do with. So, he got in touch with us and the rest is history.

Everyone in the group not directly involved in the interview had already begun exploring the mall, so when Lindsay left the rest of us just kind of went our separate ways, exploring at our own pace.

The entrance to Nakano Broadway resembled a long, brightly lit alleyway with shops on either side, including a 3- or 4-story McDonalds, which I ate at later in the day. There were lots of other restaurants available, but I was hesitant to try to order anything given the language barrier. I ended up eating Chicken McNuggets for the first time in years.

Anyway, at the end of the alleyway was the entrance to the mall proper. The main floor felt very open, with balconies above showing the second level. The shops on the main floor were also all brightly lit and felt very commercialized. There was also a large arcade there, filled with all sorts of games.

There were another three levels above the main floor and another level below. Each of those felt a little more cramped than the main floor, more like a slightly more open apartment building.

There was a wide range of stores there, including many places with walls and shelves just covered in anime and video game figurines, dolls, posters, accessories, and much more. It was really kind of nuts how much stuff was there that, just a few years ago, would have left me broke buying it all. That describes 40-50% of the stores in Nakano Broadway.

The rest varied wildly. There were used video game stores, filled with games I had no reason to buy due to a lack of Japanese systems and no understanding of the language. There were books stores that, again, had nothing to offer me due to the language barrier. I also recall seeing seamstresses, doctors offices, a camera shop, jewelry and watch stores, a blank doll shop, and adult/hentai stores.

The basement had an entirely different vibe than the rest of the place. It felt more like a grocer's place, with a fish market, a butcher I think, and other food places.

Upon getting back from the interview, I almost immediately lost everyone and wandered around the place alone for a few hours. For a while I was content to simply browse the stores, but I quickly realized I wasn't going to be buying anything, so eventually I just started systematically searching each floor, keeping an eye out for familiar faces.

In the end, I wasn't the only one who didn't buy much, but others ended up with bags and bags of souvenirs and gifts.

When we finally all met up at the appointed time, we all ended up visiting one last place; a 3D printer in the basement, which had several interesting examples of their work on display. To be honest, the potential of 3D printing is a bit beyond me, but most everyone else seemed pretty excited by it.

When we left Nakano Broadway it was quite late but, yet again, we proved that we could always squeeze a little bit more out of any given day...

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