A city of Nakano is located only one stop away from Shinjuku station by the JR Chuo express Line. In this city of Nakano, there are theatres, temples, and also some appealing shopping streets. In this article, we will fully introduce you to some of the best sightseeing spots in Nakano.
What kind of city is Nakano?
A city of Nakano first appears in the history of Japan in 1695 during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). It was mentioned in a Shorui-Awaremi-no-rei (ordinances of animal protection) issued by the 5th General Shogun of Edo Shogunate, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. In order to accommodate a large number of stray dogs, a large-scale dog house was built in the area of Nakano, where currently Nakano 4-chome sits. The doctors and government officials were placed there by the government to take care of the dogs, and eventually, a village was established from those communities.
In addition, during the rule of Tokugawa Yoshimune, the 8th General Shogun (1716 - 1745), a sight of peach blossoms was created in the current area of Nakano 3 chome, and the commoner came to gather in the spring to see the bloomed trees. There is a saying that this is the roots of Japanese traditional event, Cherry-blossom viewing.
This city Nakano in the Meiji era (1868 - 1912) has become very popular as it is located near urban areas and rapidly modernized. During the WW II, Tokyo has suffered a massive air bombing but the area around the Nakano Station has remained unaffected and it flourishes as a black market post-war. In the process of the post-war reconstruction, the black market has changed its form into a shopping street. In 1958, an arcade has built and it has led to the core of the downtown street in front of the Nakano Station.
In 1966, the Nakano Broadway has opened its business. For some time, it had become a renowned shopping mall as it was the biggest mall in East Asia. However, as many stores began to deal with products such as Anime and Manga, Nakano fades itself into a city of Japanese subcultures.
has been caught attention for the city of Anime and Manga. However, unlike Akihabara where it usually sells more recently produced Anime and Manga, Nakano is famous for nostalgic Anime and Manga items. As for sightseeing in Tokyo, it might be a fun idea to compare those two different types of subcultures in Tokyo.
How to walk around in Nakano
Nakano is famous for its Anime and Manga subculture, but because it has a quick access to downtown area of Tokyo, Nakano is also a popular residential area. Also in Nakano, there are numbers of shopping street that supports the convenient living of the people who live there.
“Sun-mall Shopping Street”
The Sun-mall Shopping Street is a symbolic existence of Nakano's many shopping streets. It is an arcade-style shopping mall directly connected to the North Exit of JR Nakano Station. In the arcade with the length of 224 meters, 110 stores are crowded with each other. The Sun-mall Shopping Street is also popular as a sightseeing spot with music playing every hour, time signals using the running sound of a steam train, a lighting of LED that changes the colors every season, and so on.
●5 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“Yakushi-Ai Road Shopping Street”
Compared to the glittering impression of the Sun-mall Shopping Street, Yakushi-Ai Road Shopping Street, located in the approach of Arai Yakushi Baisho-in may seem slightly less fascinating. However, it is a town that can taste the nostalgic atmosphere of the Showa era (1926-1989). This community-based shopping street gains tremendous support and popularity from locals living in Nakano area as well.
●1 Arai Nakano-ku, Tokyo
What you should do in Nakano
In Nakano, there are many small theatres, museums and history archives besides the shopping streets mentioned above. There are plays and works that can only be seen here, so it might be a good idea to check it out.
“Nakano Ward Historical Museum”
This is a museum that has been able to preserve and view the cultural heritage of Nakano, which has a long history. Various publications and pictures on Nakano's history can be viewed here and some can also be purchased. Also, there is an exhibition related to the legislation of “Shorui-Awaremi-no-rei” in Edo period, which was related to the flourish of Nakano area.
●4-3-4, Egota, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on Mondays, 3rd Sundays of the month, New Year holidays
In Nakano, there is a number of small theatres. The most popular one of all is Pocket Square. In there, there are multiple small theatres beginning with “The Pocket” opened in 1998, “Theatre MOMO,” “Theatre BONBON,” “Theatre HOPE.” Although all of those four theaters have maximum seating of less than 200 people, but for that reason, the distance between the actors and audiences are close and you get to feel more dynamism to it.
●3-22-8, Nakano Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“Nakano Entertainment Theatre”
The Pocket Square is mainly performed by a theatre company, but Nakano Entertainment Theatre is a stage where people can enjoy Japanese traditional performing arts such as Rakugo and Japanese classical dance called “Nihon Buyo.” Besides classical performing arts, there are live comedies as well, which people who do not understand the Japanese language even can enjoy. This place is also known as a place where we find the next stars, as some Japanese performing artists who are popularly active now have experienced performing here as a start in their careers.
●5-68-7, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on 3rd Mondays of the month (if the 3rd Monday is a holiday, the next day closes), New Year holidays
What is Nakano Broadway?
This Nakano Broadway plays an important role to contribute the image of Nakano's “Subculture flourishing city.” Since its opening in 1966, many shops have opened here as well, and after 1980, many shops started to sell goods of Anima and Manga. As there are many rare items and collectibles that people can only get them here, Nakano Broadway is also popular among hobbyists.
●5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“Mandarake Nakano Store”
The Mandarake is one of the representative stores of Nakano Broadway founded in 1980. It is easy to find the item you are looking for as stores are categorized finely by genres. There are shops, which handle cartoons mainly, specialize in figures and plastic models.
The store has items for Otaku(geeks) and maniacs. There are all the goods from old-fashioned anime characters and some latest products. They carry various genres such as music and video software related to anime and games, toys, anime goods, zines, cosplay costumes, etc, and some of them are vintage goods, which are currently out of print. There are a lot of old-fashioned animated characters and the latest items.
●Nakano Broadway 1-4F, 5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●Opens for 365 days a year
Building a plastic figure model is one of the universally loved hobbies. Especially those with motifs such as Gundam gains a high popularity, but some technical skill is required to build on the other hand. This shop manufactures such plastic model and sells the finished products.
In the store, there are high-quality complete plastic models as if it jumped out of the world of Anime. Limited editions are also there so it is perfect for souvenirs to friends who like Anime.
●Nakano Broadway 1F, 5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●Holidays: Every Wednesday
JackRoad is a men's watch specialty store with a history of 31 years at Nakano Broadway. It is known for a wide range of items, from the latest models to used products with reasonable price, and rare antiques. The store stocks more than 5,000 at all times. With a popularity from hardcore fans, this shop also has enormous popularity among beginners.
There is a sister store called “BettyRoad” that carries ladies' watches and jewelry on the other side of the street of JackRoad.
●Nakano Broadway 3F, 5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
Alf is a store that specializes in mini cars that gather popularity regardless of the locations from West to East and generations from children to adults. There is a number of various types of mini cars from the latest models made in Japan to limited collectibles and ones currently not in production, lined in the store. It is a store where everyone from car funs to all men can enjoy.
●Nakano Broadway 2F, 5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●12:30-20:00 ※ Sundays/Holidays 12:30-19:00
●Closed on Wednesdays
“Rail Model Shop BIGYARD”
Alongside with cars, every man loves railroads. Especially the railroad model has gained a great support from adults, and this shop specializes in such railroad models. A lot of railway models such as “N gauge,” “16 (HO),” “steel collection” and “B train” are sold in the shop. The concept of the shop is “a nostalgic shop that you can enjoy watching”. It is known as a shop where railway fans gather together with numerous railroad models being exhibited.
●Nakano Broadway 2F, 5-52-15, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●12:00-20:00 ※ Sundays/Holidays 12:00-19:00
Speaking of Nakano - shops to go
Japanese green tea specialty shop - OHASHI
While being a specialty shop of the Japanese green tea, which is traditional in Japan, this shop was arranged with the inspiration of French countryside. Original shop of OHASHI was established in 1653 as a tea wholesaler. This is one of the oldest stores active in Nakano.
Based on the concept of “lifestyle proposal with Japanese tea in the center, regardless of Western or Japanese,” OHASHI sells Japanese tea of various kinds such as brown rice tea and hojicha (roasted tea), blended carefully with selected Japanese tea leaves.
Tea concierge of the shop would suggest you how to make a delicious tasting tea from tea leaves selection, in an easy to understand manner. OHASHI also sells items such as teapots and tea cups which are indispensable for making tea.
●Ohashi building 1F, 3-34-3, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on Sundays
In Nakano Broadway, there are shops where people can enjoy gourmet food. Among them, this Daily Chiko is a popular place. It is known for its ice cream. People can enjoy various flavors of ice creams and Japanese traditional noodle, Udon with an affordable price.
Not only the classic flavor vanilla and chocolate, it is fascinating to see their limited time only flavors in every season. The most popular ice cream in this store in “Oversized Soft Cream.” At all times, there are 8 kinds of flavors combined to have the height of 40cm! This outstandingly sized ice cream would surely be an appealing picture for your social media accounts. This is also known as a famous gourmet of Nakano Broadway.
●Nakano Broadway B1F, 5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“Chuka-soba Aoba, Main shop”
It can be said that ramen is one of the foods representing Japanese food. Although recently in Japan, ramen restaurants with thick and strong soups with grand toppings gain popularities, a type of the most basic ramen called Tokyo ramen is known and characterized for its strong smell of Japanese style broth. Utilizing the style of Tokyo ramen as a base of their noodles, Chuka-soba Aoba founded in 1996 has obtained strong support from ramen fans. The signature menu, Chuka-soba uses Tokyo ramen broth with the refreshing taste as a base and adds the Tonkotsu (pork based) soup to enrich the smell and flavor. It can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, from children to the elderly.
●5-58-1, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
●10:30-21:00 ※ Finish when it is sold out
Where to Stay in Nakano
Nakano is easily accessible from the city center, but it is a residential area and there are few accommodations near the station. If you enjoy in Nakano, staying at a hotel around Shinjuku is what people often do. Nonetheless, for some people who would find it bothersome to take a train back to the hotel in Shinjuku after enjoying a long shopping day, we will introduce hotels in Nakano.
“Nakano Sun Plaza”
The Nakano Sun Plaza is a complex facility opened in 1973, which has been a landmark of Nakano. There are multiple events halls from for weddings to banquet halls, and even concert halls as well. From the 16th to the 19th floor, there are hotel rooms including various types of rooms such as single room for one-person travelers, Japanese style and special rooms with a taste of Japanese culture.
There are two restaurants on the 20th floor, named “121 Dining” where you can enjoy authentic French, and “Nakano,” where you can enjoy Japanese cuisine especially considered of using the ingredients to its fullest potential. Dinner while watching the beautiful Shinjuku night view from the 20th floor would be an exceptional memory of your trip.
●4-1-1, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“COCO SHUKU Nakano”
As it is rare in Tokyo, COCO SHUKU Nakano is an accommodation especially for foreigners or Japanese families who enjoy group tours. Since it is an apartment type hotel, COCO SHUKU Nakano allows a long-term stay as well.
Rooms with a simple design based on white color leaves some spacious impressions. In this room, there is, of course, basic house pieces of equipment such as a mini kitchen, a shower room, a toilet, an air conditioner, a TV, a kettle, a hairdryer and other items of living. By using the neighboring local markets, you can stay in this hotel as if you are actually a part of this community.
●Shin Nakano Meiwa building 2F, 4-1-21, Chuo, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
“Business Hotel Crescent”
For travelers who would like to spend their budget for shopping and gourmet as much as possible, it is recommended that they would stay in bargain-priced business hotels. A popular business hotel among foreign tourists in Nakano is here at Business Hotel Crescent. It has been popular since this place is close to the forementioned Pocket Square and typical sightseeing spots in Nakano.
There are three types of rooms are available: single, twin and semi-double. The design is unified with pure white walls and calm wood. You can relaxingly enjoy the high ceiling which resembles European houses.
●3-3-4, Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
How to get to Nakano
The selling point of Nakano is its good access to main stations. If you take the JR Chuo express Line to Shinjuku Station, you will arrive in only one stop. If you go to Akihabara where the same subculture flourished, it takes about half an hour if you use JR Sobu / Chuo-kanko Line.
Also, Nakano is located just 20 minutes away from Tokyo Station by JR Chuo express Line. Because it is good access to the main terminals and stations in Tokyo, it can be convinced that there are a lot of families who live in Nakano.
Conclusion of Nakano
It is not commonly known to foreign tourists yet, but Nakano is full of fascinating places as for sightseeing spots with mixed local cultures. When you come to Japan, you definitely should come and check it out.
* This is information was last updated on August 13th of 2018. Please contact the stores and facilities directly for further details.
"Like" if you think this article is interesting