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A slice of life in Nerima, the Tokyo neighborhood you probably don’t know

7 Comments
By Victoria Vlisides

Take a sigh of relief because you’re in Nerima. Venture just 20-30 minutes away from central Tokyo by train into the tranquil streets of this local neighborhood and you’ll experience a slice-of-life side of the city made for a day of urban exploration.

The residential area located in the northwestern metropolis surely can’t compare to the babes in the limelight of central Tokyo like Shibuya and Shinjuku. Yet Nerima’s allure lies in what isn’t: crowded, cramped or flashy. The majority of local spots I’ll introduce are not found in the Tokyo guidebooks or even other travel sites and are perfect for a Saturday soul search or Sunday-Funday.

Background and Sightseeing

Out of Tokyo’s 23 wards, Nerima is the fifth largest by square kilometers. Despite that, its only popular areas are Oizumi and Hikarigaoka — yes, you’ve guessed it right, most people don’t think of Nerima as a place to visit unless they actually live there or know someone who does. However, this is certainly not because Nerima lacks gems, but probably because it has been too quiet and modest. Until now at least.

Nerima’s biggest claim to fame is that Japanese animation production was born here. Indeed, Nerima-based production headquarters were pioneers: Toei Animation made Japan’s first anime feature film, "The Tale of the White Serpent" (白蛇伝, Hakujaden), and in 1958 Mushi Production made Japan’s first anime series for TV, the massively popular "Astro Boy" (鉄腕アトム, Tetsuwan Atomu). Now, fans go to Oizumi-gakuen station’s Oizumi Anime Gate — a classic-anime hall of fame, and rumor has it that even Doraemon, Japan’s beloved character from the future, holds a residence in Nerima.

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© Savvy Tokyo

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7 Comments
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I live in Nerima-ku and have no complaints about the place. It's a good environment for bringing up children too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I used to live right at the north entrance of Hikarigaoka-koen when my daughter was just learning to walk. It was amazing, great area... nice and quiet. Wonderful park, nice water play in the summer and if anyone is looking for a cherry blossom festival they have one at the park every year sometime in the first week-ish of April. Aside from the normal hanami festivities there is also an extraordinary amount of foreign food vendors. We've since moved pretty far but we still go to the sakura festival every year. Highly recommend.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

WOW sounds like a nice place to check out for future home....

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Joe - there are some bargains to be had if you don't mind doing a bit of DIY work. Plenty of good-quality 25-30 year old houses bought by middle-aged people during the end of the bubble era. They are now downsizing and because most urban Japanese people don't want to live in a house of that age, you don't have to pay much more than the cost of the land, though you do have to budget for some maintenance.

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Doraemon and Crayonshin-chan (studio) are from Tanashi (Now known as nishitokyoshi unfortuntely)

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I've been cycling through Nerima on my way to weekend tennis sessions for the past decade, and I can say there is almost nothing there that makes me stop. I have tried! And come up empty handed a bunch of times. Nerima station may be huge and bustling, yet surrounded by cheap chain, or fastfood restaurants fit for impoverished students, serving bland curry rice, ramen, etc. so lunch is rarely an option.

A public sports facility opened a few years back but staff there told me I can't use it because it don't live or work in the Nerima. That put me off the place from the get-go.

"....surely can’t compare to the babes in the limelight of central Tokyo like Shibuya and Shinjuku."

Or Nakano, or Suginami, or Itabashi. It's Tokyo's version of Saitama.

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JeffLeeSep. 24  06:01 am JST

I've been cycling through Nerima on my way to weekend tennis sessions for the past decade, and I can say there is almost nothing there that makes me stop. I have tried! And come up empty handed a bunch of times. Nerima station may be huge and bustling, yet surrounded by cheap chain, or fastfood restaurants fit for impoverished students, serving bland curry rice, ramen, etc. so lunch is rarely an option.

Get away from the station and there are some great Chinese, Indian/Nepalese and even a Turkish restaurant.

A public sports facility opened a few years back but staff there told me I can't use it because it don't live or work in the Nerima. That put me off the place from the get-go.

Yes, it's a sports facility for people who pay Nerima-ku taxes. Why would that put you off? There's a facility open to anyone willing to pay for it, right below the station.

Or Nakano, or Suginami, or Itabashi. It's Tokyo's version of Saitama.

Hmmmm.... At this point I think it's fair to say - keep on cycling and don't stop until you hit your tennis court.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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