Introduction - Overview of Nakano as a shopping district
Nakano is a bustling shopping district located in Tokyo, known for its vibrant atmosphere and wide array of stores and boutiques. For visitors looking to explore this neighborhood, and specifically looking to go watch shopping in this area, this guide to Nakano Broadway should be your perfect companion.
Nakano Broadway is a multi-story complex building located near the JR Nakano station that houses a plethora of shops specializing in anime, manga, and collectibles. It is a haven for otaku culture and offers both tourists and regulars a unique shopping experience. To get to Nakano Broadway, you will be passing through Nakano Shotengai, a traditional shopping street. Stretching for over 200 meters, the street is lined with a variety of local shops, restaurants, and cafes. Additionally, the bars and restaurants that are located towards the east of the Nakano Shotengai (shopping street) is a great stop for bar hopping and taking photos too given its photogenic and majestic atmosphere (especially at night time).
A. Getting to Nakano Broadway
Nakano Broadway is conveniently located near the Nakano JR Chuo Line station, making it easily accessible for tourists and locals alike. The JR Chuo Line is a major railway line in Japan that is operated by East Japan Railway Company. The line has several major stops, including terminal stations such as Shinjuku station, Kanda station, and Shinagawa station so you should have no trouble getting onto the Chuo Line from wherever you are staying in Tokyo.
Nakano North Exit
Once you get off Nakano station, you'll need to exit the North exit. When you exit the ticket gates of the North exit, you should see a small square, which is a popular meet up spot. Straight ahead of the ticket gates, you'll see the entrance to the Nakano "Shotengai" or shopping street / arcade.
Left: the square in front of Nakano station north exit. Right: the beginning of Nakano shotengai
The Nakano Shotengai is 224 meters long with over 110 shops located along the shopping arcade. The street is covered with a roof so you won't have to worry about getting wet on rainy days. The shopping street has everything from used clothing, pachinko parlors, fast food restaurants, and bars. However, your main watch shopping destination, the Nakano Broadway is located at the very end of the shotengai shopping street so enjoy the bustling stores while you walk through the Nakano shotengai.
B. Overview of the different floors and shops within Nakano Broadway
At the very end of the Nakano Shotengai you will finally reach the Nakano Broadway. You will have already seen a couple of watch dealers located on the Shotengai streets itself but these are mainly pre owned watch dealers and, in my opinion, are not very interesting so we would recommend skipping visits to these shops unless you are specifically hunting for a modern preowned watch from Rolex, AP, or Patek.
Once you make your way inside the Nakano Broadway building you will notice that the building is spread across multiple floors. Nakano Broadway offers a very diverse shopping experience for visitors with each floor offering a different genre of stores. Most of the watch dealers are concentrated on the 3rd floor. Before we get to the dealers located on the 3rd floor, let us first talk about the main attraction of Nakano Broadway for the majority of regular tourists and visitors here - the famous store, Mandarake which is located in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor.
Mandarake, founded in 1987, is a shop that started out and to this day specializes in manga (comic books) and anime merchandise. It is a legendary shop that has been in the forefront of "Otaku" subculture with anime and manga fanatics making regular pilgrimages to the store. In the present day, it has transcended manga and anime and has become a haven for a variety of sub culture collectors and enthusiasts, offering a wide range of rare and vintage items from toys, games, and costumes.
Left: store front of Mandarake. Right: store front of JackRoad
Once you make your way to the 3rd floor on the escalator, the first store you will see is Mandarake. Walk left of Mandarake and you will reach the world famous Jackroad, a vintage and preowned watch dealer. Jackroad is undoubtedly the most famous and reputable store in Nakano. Founded in 1989, the store offers a wide range of prestigious brands like Rolex, Omega, Seiko, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, IWC, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. Jackroad has a sister store called Bettyroad which specializes in women's watches. Bettyroad also holds many women's handbags and jewelry including Hermes handbags like the Birkin and Kelly. As such, if you are visiting Nakano with a spouse or girlfriend you should be able to enjoy this section together.
For those in search of luxury pre owned watches Daikokuya is another good destination to visit. Daikokuya is a well known pawn shop and has locations all around Japan so the shop in Nakano is not necessarily special but pawnshops tend to reflect the latest market prices so this is a good destination to gauge the current market prices for preowned models.
Right: Daikokuya a famous pawnshop. Left: store front of Kamekichi
Another notable shop on the 3rd floor is Kamekichi, a watch dealer that offers a vast selection of timepieces from various brands. Although this may depend on the watch model you are after, in our experience Kamekichi has consistently offered the fairest price out of all the dealers in Nakano Broadway. Along with Jackroad, they have plenty of English speaking staff members so you should have no trouble communicating and negotiating. Finally, if you are after Japan domestic vintage watches like Grand Seiko, Seiko or Citizen models, a must visit dealer is Firekids who are located on the 1st floor of Nakano Broadway. Firekids has its main store near our home town of Yokohama, Japan and this location in Nakano just opened in 2022 and is their second shop. The founder, Mr. Suzuki, is a close friend of ours and we cannot recommend this store enough. They have a great selection of vintage Seiko, Grand Seiko, and Citizen's with all watches being professionally serviced by their in house watchmaker.
Left: Fire Kids on the ground level. Right: poster of Kamekichi which translates to "Kamekichi doesn't like to high (prices)"
C. Tips for watch shopping in Nakano: knowing your budget and negotiating skills
When visiting Nakano for watch shopping, especially for collectable timepieces, it's beneficial to keep some tips in mind. First, always set a budget. Vintage and collectable watches can be pricey, and it's easy to get carried away. Having a clear idea of how much you are willing to spend will prevent you from blowing your budget. Second, let us talk about negotiating prices with dealers. In Nakano, as is the case in most of Japan, prices are firm and non negotiable. However, that is not to say there is absolutely no negotiation allowed- there is no harm in speaking to the salesman. It's critical not to be rude or pushy though. Maintaining respectful communication is highly valued in Japan and negotiating calmly and politely will come a long way. Lastly, while being polite, it's crucial not to shy away from discussing your rationale for seeking for a better price. In Nakano, you will see a lot (and I mean a lot) of over priced watches. This is because these stores need to pay a very expensive rent and pay their employees along with other overhead costs for operating a physical store. However, there is no doubt that all these dealers are putting a huge markup for all of their watches simply because Nakano is a huge watch tourist destination. For a watch model that is not very popular and could have stayed on the stores shelf for a while, dealers usually are willing to go down from their original asking price. All in all though, being assertive while remaining respectful is a balancing act that could help you make the most of your watch shopping journey in Nakano.