Just a 5-minute ride on the Chuo Line from the ever popular Shinjuku, Nakano is a place where you will find various establishments to fill any cravings you have in Japan.
Nakano is a neighborhood that is often overshadowed by the looming presence of the neighboring Shinjuku, but if you’re looking for the spirit of Japanese sub-culture and good eats then try out this underappreciated gem of a city.
As soon as get out of a station you’re welcomed with a view of the iconic Sun Mall Shopping street. This street is over 200 meters long and filled with eateries and small shops carrying anything from luxury designers brands to quirky souvenirs ensuring an afternoon of fun as you crisscross between shops and discover all that Nakano has to offer.
Bar Zingaro, located on the uppermost floor of Nakano Broadway, is an appropriate spot for the small café. Owned by Takashi Murakami, creator of the Flat Space art movement, this quirky and colorful bar-café is a filled to the brim with art and will make you feel as if you have found another world inside Nakano Broadway.
Once you’re done marveling at all the art in Bar Zingaro, head down to the first floor of the shopping center to visit Daily Chiko, an ice cream shop famous for its over the top creations. Test your stomach against massive ice cream cones that contain all eight flavors that the shop has to offer.
After satiating your sweet tooth at Daily Chiko, head over to the maze of restaurants that snake around Nakano Broadway. As you get lost between the sea of stores and shops makes sure visit one of the various ramen stores that are plentiful in the area. One that stands out from the rest is Saikoro, previously called Jiraigen. Known as “Japanese Soul Food,” this ramen shop is known for its unique broth which is made of a mix of dried sardines and pork bones. If you happen to be in Nakano on the 29th of any month, be sure to snag a bowl for only 500 yen on their “Niku Nobu” day.
Feeling adventurous or not in the mood for ramen? Fear not! Stroll on down to Numabukuro which borders Nakano. Despite the quiet nature of this small town, Numabukuro is bustling with great places to eat. Be sure to check out Asahian, a small soba restaurant just half an hour walk from Nakano Station. At Asahian, you’ll be able to dine on fresh soba noodles made every morning by the small family owned eatery.
At the end of the night if you’re still in the mood for some drinks head on over to Unjami where you will be able to find Okinawan cuisine right in Nakano. This Izakaya is filled with Okinawan decorations that will transport you to the sunny beaches of Okinawa without ever leaving Nakano.
Regardless of where you end up choosing to eat in Nakano you are sure to find delicious food and great experiences all over the city. So, if you’re tired of Shinjuku and Akihabara then head on over to Nakano.
Francisco is a student who is currently studying abroad in Japan. He enjoys walking around the streets of Tokyo and discovering great places to eat.