Nakano: A Guide To Tokyo’s Underground Otaku And Foodie Paradise

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.

History and Background

Whereas Koenji resonated with the punk scene of Tokyo in the 80s, 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.

Things to Do Get lost in Tetsugakudo Park © Photo by Инариский

Also known as “The Park of Philosophy,” this special park was created by the late philosopher Dr. Enryo Inoue who wanted to create a space where people could lose themselves and contemplate the universe. You can see over 70 incredible sculptures and structures around the park. Interestingly, you enter through the “Gate of Common Sense,” make a tough choice as to which route you should take at the “Junction of Doubt,” and then exit the park through the “Gate of the Irrational” as you head back into everyday life. You can also find Wagnor Nandor’s famous sculpture “Garden of Philosophy” which features famous philosophers from around the world. With some quirky aspects, the park is a genuinely beautiful and a great place to catch the sakura or autumn leaves.

Find peace at Zenjoji Temple & Araiyakushi Temple

Although not the grandest temples in

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