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Nakano: A guide to Tokyo’s underground otaku and foodie paradise

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By Jessica Esa

Although a seemingly local and residential area, anyone heading West on the Chuo line will find much to explore in Nakano. Beloved by fans of video games, anime, and manga for offering a quieter version of Akihabara within its multi-floor department store Nakano Broadway, the neighborhood also suits anyone who loves to dig into the local side streets and seek out some gems. Nakano hides over 50 ramen restaurants (some of which are known to be the best in the city) which can mostly be found nestled around the energetic station exits and along the restaurant and bar strip of Rengazaka Street. Although Nakano is one of the most highly populated districts of Tokyo and surrounded by lively neighborhoods such as Koenji and Shinjuku, it’s easily accessible, retains a local, retro vibe and exudes charm.

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History and Background

Whereas Koenji resonated with the punk scene of Tokyo in the 1980s, Nakano very much became the darling of Japan’s otaku. The famous Nakano Broadway opened in 1966 as a sign of modernization in the primarily residential working area but the building was reserved for exclusive apartments and high-end shopping. Quickly, however, nearby neighborhoods such as Ikebukuro and Shinjuku outshone Nakano leaving the building worse for wear until the 1980s when Mandarake opened a store, others soon followed and created the otaku subculture which resonates strongly there today.

The name Nakano translates to “middle fields” as it was once the center of the Musashi no Kuni district, and it became the Tokyo district we know today in 1932 when the towns of Nogata and Nakano were merged into the former Tokyo city. Still very much deserving of its central name, Nakano is surrounded by the busiest districts in Tokyo including Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Toshima.

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© Savvy Tokyo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

2 Comments
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I like Nakano....and any wrestling fan should of course visit Bull Nakano’s bar.

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The original Shin Megami Tensei dungeon designs were based off of Nakano Broadway, just endless corridors that are easy to get lost in and also lead to several dead ends.

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