During my first week here in Japan, I saw some amazing sights. I saw temples, shrines, historic monuments. I saw skyscrapers, bright lights, castles and towers. But the one thing I saw that made me squeal with delight and bounce up and down declaring 'I love Japan' was the Sailor Moon merchandise at Mandarake, Nakano Broadway.
I read about Nakano Broadway in this article of the very useful website Japan-Guide.com. Essentially, it is a shopping mall for otaku, or Japan pop culture geeks. I usually wouldn't really be into this sort of thing. But Ryan is. So, we hopped on a train from Shinjuku to Nakano Station, and in 10 minutes found ourselves in the most bizarre shopping mall I have ever been in my life.
Do you collect character key chains? Billions of 'em here, from Disney, to realistic-looking food miniatures, all wrapped up in tiny little plastic bags. What about dolls? There are entire shops devoted to doll body parts, row upon row of dolls' heads stare out at you from empty eye sockets. Figurines? Thousands, some innocent - like the popular Mario Kart characters, and some naughty - like the pornographic cartoon girls in provocative poses with plasticine boobs bigger than their faces. You can also find a huge array of cosplay items, for dressing up as your favourite anime/manga/game characters. Some of the shop assistants are required to wear costumes as a uniform.
Within Nakano Broadway are 3 floors of the very awesome Manadarake, the pre-owned manga, anime and collectibles dealer that has its base here. Even if you're not into Japanese pop culture, the sheer size of this shop will blow your mind. From the floor to the ceiling are shelves bursting with glossy manga (comics), from every genre imaginable. The amount of reading material in this store would rival any library. Then there's cabinets full of all sorts of game consoles, and you have to squeeze past all the earnest looking, bespectacled Japanese men looking for the latest 3DS games.
It was on the top floor that I found heaven. There was a special collectibles cabinet. And in that cabinet was my beloved Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon everything. Dolls, cups, lunchboxes, keychains, trading cards, toys... all second-hand, all extremely rare - and expensive.
A Sailor Moon wand in perfect condition with original packaging will set you back 21000 Yen. A full set of Sailor Moon plushy dolls were about 10500 Yen. Even a broken Sailor Moon locket was still going for 1575 Yen. I wanted everything, and had to be forcibly restrained and reminded that rent was not going to pay itself.
What I did buy was a Sailor Moon mask (used, and child size - so it doesn't even fit my face), for 615 Yen. Then I found some cool pictures for 315 Yen each, a fan for 180 Yen, and a character book for 450 Yen.
If you want to buy Sailor Moon stuff, Mandarake seems to be the place. They have a few around Japan, but Nakano Broadway is boss. Alternatively, you can check out the Mandarake website and enter 'Sailor Moon' in the search database. (Be warned however... I tried this before, and was shocked to find out that Sailor Moon porn exists. Childhood ruined.)
I guess the theme at Nakano Broadway is that you can enjoy toys and games and cartoons at any age. The most common demographic I saw there was probably youngish-to-middle-aged men. And while some of it is a bit creepy, for the most of it, it's about harmless escapism from the harsh realities of adult life for a little while, and going back to the good old days of your childhood.
So, who wants to buy me that Sailor Moon wand?