Tokyo is a city bursting with neighborhoods, each with its own personality. While Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku grab the headlines, there are secret spots waiting to be explored. If you’re looking to experience a local area and discover hidden gems, Nakano could be your perfect match!

This guide will be your key to unlocking Nakano. We’ll explore fun things to do, delicious places to eat in, hidden treasures, and even some great places to stay.

Intrigued? Let’s see what Nakano has in store for you!

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A Quick Primer to Nakano

Nakano Travel What is Nakano

Nakano lies to the west of Shinjuku on the Chuo line. It is a densely populated residential area brimming with affordable and unique hidden spots. For anyone keen on exploring the retro backstreets of Japan, Nakano is the place to visit. Labelled as the ‘quieter’ version of the famous Akihabara, Nakano boasts many anime, manga, and video game stores that are one of a kind. With everything being in close proximity to the station, Nakano is a popular destination if you’re in the mood to step back in time and indulge in old-style Japan.

Best Things to Do in Nakano

Arai Yakushi Baishouin

Nakano Travel Araiyakushi Baishouin
KentinCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tucked away in a residential area is the stunning Araiyakushi Baishouin, the largest temple in Nakano, known as the ‘God of Eyes.’ This nickname originated in the Edo period when a Shogun named Hidetada visited the temple to pray for a cure for his daughter’s eye disease. The temple is also reputed to bring good luck for child-raising. Araiyakushi Baishouin is a favourite spot for locals to view the cherry blossoms in spring.

Find out more about Araiyakushi Baishouin here on Google maps.

Araitenjinkitano Shrine

Nakano Travel Arai Tenjin Kitano Shrine

Araitenjinkitano Shrine venerates Sugawara no Michizane, considered the god of both Bunbu and Buddhism. The deities of Araitenjinkitano Shrine are “Sugawara no Michizane” and “Ukemochi no Kami,” the god who controls food. The former village of Arai, blessed with abundant water, prayed to Tenjin for protection from the flood damage of the Myoshoji River and for a good harvest to Ukemochi, the progenitor of all food.

Although the construction date of this shrine is unclear, it was known as Tenmangu Shrine in ancient times and was rebuilt during the Tensho era (1573-1592) by Arai Yakushi’s founder, Samon Yukiharu. Even before that, it was a guardian shrine of this area. Here, a cow statue resides, and it is believed that if you stroke the corresponding part of the cow that mirrors your ailment, your health will improve.

Find out more about Araitenjinkitano Shrine here on Google maps.

Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street

Immediately after exiting the north gate of Nakano Station, you enter a bustling shopping street where people flock daily! Walking through the large orange arcade, you’ll discover numerous affordable and delicious rice shops, delicatessens, and clothing stores ideal for anyone living alone.

Here are some of the most distinctive shops you should explore in Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street.

Oyaki-Dokoro Refutei

Refutei is a shop known for its hot, freshly made, large-sized Imagawayaki. This Japanese dessert is made of batter filled with various stuffings, typically azuki bean paste, akin to Dorayaki but consisting of two separate pancakes sandwiched together.

As you leave the north exit of Nakano Station, the sweet and enticing aroma from Refutei will draw you in. A popular item here is the Imagawayaki with anko and cheese stuffing, a delightful blend of sweet bean paste and subtle saltiness. Additionally, different types of branding irons decorate the Imagawayaki, making it not only a treat to eat but also a feast for the eyes, particularly during the cold winter months.

Lotteria’s “Koara No Machi Yaki”

Although Lotteria is a common fast food chain in Japan, the “Koara no machi yaki” sold here is exclusive to only three stores nationwide. This outlet, attached to Lotteria, offers special koala-shaped snacks similar to taiyaki, available in various flavours including red bean and custard cream, with seasonal options like autumn edition pumpkin-flavoured cream.

Find out more about Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street here on Google maps.

Nakano Broadway

Nakano Broadway is a comprehensive hub where you can find everything from anime and manga related goods to luxury watches, groceries, household items, beauty products, and more. This complex combines a shopping centre on its lower levels with a residential complex above.

The shopping centre spans five levels, from B1 to 4F, hosting over 250 shops. The B1 floor offers a diverse array of foods and groceries at affordable prices, while the ground level features shops selling clothing, shoes, and second-hand goods. The second and third levels are dedicated to anime and idol-related collectables, games, figurines, and souvenirs, and the fourth floor houses additional shops including a pharmacy, beauty salon, offices, and even a dentist.

Here are some note-worthy stores within the complex:

HAL Shop

Located on the second floor of Nakano Broadway, HAL Shop is a capsule toy specialty shop boasting over 100 capsule toy machines. These machines, available at 100 yen per try, offer a variety of game and anime character goods along with unique, laughter-inducing toys.


Richard, enjoy my life!CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Henya, meaning “weird shop” in Japanese, offers a standout collection of antique toys. This shop is particularly distinctive due to its structure, which evokes a sense of stepping into another dimension. Packed with surprises and excitement, Henya provides a deep dive into the rich history of Japanese anime and manga culture and its ongoing evolution.


Nakano Travel Mandarake
fletcherjcmCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One store we recommend is ‘Mandarake,’ established in 1980. Famous for selling otaku goods such as mangas, anime, cosplay outfits, figurines, and much more, Mandarake is worth a visit even for those not particularly interested in anime, thanks to its trendy and cool atmosphere.


In line with the anime theme, ‘Anime-Kan’ on the fourth floor is a fantastic store to appreciate the artistry of anime. This store sells original drawings used in popular series such as Ghibli and Naruto. It is a truly remarkable place where the creativity of these works is palpable, making it a must-visit.

Broadway B1F

Nakano Travel Nakano Broadway 1st floor
Flickr user: Danny Choo Tokyo, Japan BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Broadway B1F features a variety of food stalls, frequented by locals. This maze-like basement offers a wide selection of shops including fresh fish, meat, dried food, vegetables, and local gourmet spots such as light restaurants, ethnic shops, and even fortune-telling halls.

Among all the stalls here, the most renowned is probably the Daily Chico ice cream shop, known for its special 8-layer ice cream. With its perfectly balanced layers, this ice cream offers a delightful refreshment after a day of wandering.

Yakushi Ai Road

Nakano Travel Yakushi Ai Road
Photo by Management

Proceeding straight from Nakano Broadway, you will come upon Yakushi Ai Road. Compared to Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street, this arcade is less crowded and is a well-known tourist spot where you can unwind at one of the many stylish restaurants. There is also a famous candy shop, Papabubble, where you can watch candy being made on-site and sample the freshly made treats.

Shikinomori Park

With the redevelopment of Nakano, Shikinomori Park has become a serene oasis surrounded by corporate and university buildings. Events are held here regularly, so it’s advisable to check the Nakano City Tourism Association website for upcoming events.

Kitchen wagons visit during weekdays, offering a perfect spot for a midday meal. Good Morning Cafe, located within the park, provides a BBQ option, creating an enchanting dining atmosphere, especially at night.


番記者, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Renagazaka is an essential stylish spot in Nakano, located a short walk from the south exit of Nakano Station. Here, you can enjoy exquisite rice and sake in a tranquil setting, suitable for dates, girls’ nights out, or a relaxed evening after work. The area is beautifully illuminated with warm colours, hosting many establishments ideal for adult evenings.

One recommended restaurant is ‘Root.’ At ‘Root’, the ethos is to create a peaceful and joyful home for travellers to return to, and the restaurant truly embodies this. With an interior that blends Japanese and Western styles, ‘Root’ caters to a diverse clientele. The menu features unique dishes such as ‘Oven-baked thickly sliced cow tongue’ and ‘The pickles of Island Shallot and Mango Marinade.’

Showa Shindo Shopping Street

The final recommended sightseeing spot in Nakano is “Nakano Kitaguchi Showa Shindo Shopping Street”. Located by turning right at “Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street”, it offers a nostalgic atmosphere and the charm of an old-fashioned bright izakaya, where you can easily mingle with the locals.

Yakushi Ai Road Shopping Street

An 820m stretch filled with old shops that extends from Nakano Broadway, Yakushi Ai Road continues the retro vibe as you encounter local restaurants and stores brimming with authentic Japanese goods. There’s even an onsen here!

Find out more about Yakushi Ai Road Shopping Street here on Google maps.

Nakano Kotobuki Onsen

Founded 66 years ago, Nakano Kotobuki Onsen features natural hot spring acids, including ‘Meta-silicic acid’, a rarity in Tokyo. The soothing effects of this acid are renowned for enhancing skin moisture, earning the local nickname ‘Beauty in the hot water!’ Note that it is closed on Tuesdays and operates from 16:00 to 01:30 the following day.

Find out more about Nakano Kotobuki Onsen here on Google maps.

Rainbow Union Art-Studio

Opened in 2018, Rainbow Union Art-Studio is a haven for glass enthusiasts, offering a wide array of unique and handmade glass items. You can also pre-book various glassmaking courses, guided by an instructor, to create your own special design to take home.

Find out more about Rainbow Union Art-Studio here on Google maps.


Papabubble is a renowned candy store in Nakano where the sweet aroma entices you inside. The owner, who trained in Italy, opened the first store here. Papabubble’s candies are uniquely designed with intricate patterns at their centre. There are also special edition candies available depending on the season.

Find out more about Papabubble here on Google maps.

Recommended Restaurants in Nakano

Tadaima Henshinchū

Have you ever had French fusion ramen? Check out this creamy oyster ramen in Nakano! The chef, having studied French cuisine for 14 years, has created a new level of ramen. This dish masterfully combines Japanese ingredients with French techniques. The soup is creamy and rich without being too overpowering.

Find out more about Tadaima Henshinchū here on Google maps.

Maguro Mart

Originally a long-established hardware store, the building now housing Maguro Mart in Nakano has retained the appearance of an old house, transformed into a ‘tuna wonderland’. The glass windows and the atrium lend the restaurant a sense of openness. Here, you can enjoy the freshest, highest-quality domestic tuna, never frozen, and sample rare parts of tuna at an affordable price.

Find out more about Maguro Mart here on Google maps.

Bia Hoi Chop

Bia Hoi Chop is a Vietnamese restaurant in Nakano that serves authentic Vietnamese food, specialising in fresh pho noodles made from Japanese rice. The banh mi sandwiches are also very popular. The restaurant’s open space reminds one of a Vietnamese street stall and is named after Bia Hoi, a type of Vietnamese draft beer known as “the cheapest beer in the world”. It’s a place where you can experience the “unchanging Vietnamese spirit”.

Find out more about Bia Hoi Chop here on Google maps.

Iroha-tei Unagi Restaurant

Iroha-tei is a hidden eel restaurant in Nakano frequented by many celebrities. Offering a cosy ambiance, you can enjoy a range of dishes from grilled eel skewers to unajyu, eel on rice. In winter, the restaurant also serves various hot pots.

Find out more about Iroha-tei Unagi Restaurant here on Google maps.


Nakano Area Guide Tonkatsunori
Credit: 豚肉料理専門店 とんかつのり

Tonkatsunori in Nakano is a relaxing restaurant with a counter, ideal for dining alone or with others. Known for its tonkatsu, a popular option for both lunch and dinner, the restaurant also offers shabu-shabu with delicious Hayashi SPF pork, served in surprisingly large portions.

Find out more about Tonkatsunori here on Google maps.

Buon Appetito Papa Nakano

Buon Appetito Papa Nakano is known for its homemade pasta made with durum semolina, which highlights the flavour of the wheat. The pizza dough, baked in a stone oven, complements a variety of appetisers and main dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. If you fancy a drink, they offer over 50 types of mainly Italian wines, alongside craft beers.

Find out more about Buon Appetito Papa Nakano here on Google maps.


Tsui-teru, a popular meat-focused restaurant in Nakano, has gained slight fame from being featured on Japanese TV. On entering, you’re greeted by a refrigerator showcasing various cuts of aged meat. With a spacious interior and high ceilings, Tsui-teru is the place to indulge in aged beef to your heart’s content.

Find out more about Tsui-teru here on Google maps.


Just a 3-minute walk from the north exit of Nakano Station, Toriichizu is an izakaya that offers the experience of an authentic chicken restaurant at an affordable price. The Mizutaki Pot, known for its smooth, rich chicken flavour, and award-winning fried chicken seasoned with over ten unique spices, are particularly popular.

Find out more about Toriichizu here on Google maps.

Bars in Nakano

Bar Dunk

Nakano Travel Bar Dunk
Credit: Photo by Jimmy H.

The front of Bar Dunk, with its transparent façade featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass door, presents a sleek and stylish exterior akin to a hipster coffee shop in Ginza. However, inside, you’re met with a unique Mediterranean ambiance, reminiscent of Greece, with white and blue decorations. The bar offers a range of reasonably priced Japanese, fusion, and Western dishes.

Find out more about Bar Dunk here on Google maps.

Daikaiju Salon

Located 7 minutes north of Nakano Station, Daikaiju Salon is a café-bar for collectors and enthusiasts of monsters and superheroes like Godzilla and Ultraman. The interior is an Instagram-able haven of collectables, with shelves full of figurines and walls lined with masks. Tourist-friendly with English menus, it’s a great spot to enjoy a nostalgic viewing of classic shows while sipping on a coffee or cocktail.

Find out more about Daikaiju Salon here on Google maps.

Juke 80’s

Jet Bar in Nakano offers a chill vibe with its rock-and-disco-inspired décor, featuring bright orange walls and psychedelic checkered floors and ceilings. Decorated with rock guitars and band posters, it’s a quiet spot to enjoy drinks, becoming livelier during events.

Find out more about Juke 80’s here on Google maps.

Jet Bar

Nakano Travel Jet Bar
Credit: Jet Bar

If you’re in Nakano, Jet Bar is a chill, rock-and-disco-inspired bar; the disco inspiration is seen in the bright, hot orange walls and the psychedelic check boards that are the floor and ceiling. The rock inspiration comes through in the stylish rock guitars on the wall and posters of famous rock bands. 

On a regular day, Jet Bar’s a quiet place to enjoy a few drinks with friends and maybe mingle with a few Japanese locals. But, the place gets a lot livelier when there’s an event going on, and you’ll want to arrive quickly because Jet Bar fills up quick.

Find out more about Jet Bar here on Google maps.

Top Accommodations in Nakano

Ostay Numabukuro Hotel Apartment (2 Stars)

Located 200 m from Teigen-ji Temple in Tokyo, Ostay Numabukuro Hotel Apartment offers air-conditioned accommodation with free WiFi. Nearby attractions include Shoho-ji Temple and Numabukuro Hikawa Shrine. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 21 km away.

GIVE Araiyakushi (2 Stars)

Located 300 m from Araiyakushi Park, GIVE Araiyakushi offers balcony accommodations with free WiFi. Nearby attractions include Kamitakada Nichome Park and Heiwanomori Park. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 32 km away.

Court Residence Tokyo Nakano (3 Stars)

Situated within 600 m of Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street, Court Residence Tokyo Nakano offers rooms with balconies and free WiFi. Nearby attractions include Araiyakushi Park and Kamitakada Nichome Park. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 31 km away.

GIVE Higashinakano (2 Stars) 

Located 300 m from Unison Mall Nakano, GIVE Higashinakano offers balcony accommodations with free WiFi. Nearby attractions include Atre Vie Higashi Nakano and Kanda Josui Park. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 28 km away.

Annekaffeekanne (2 Stars) 

Located 300 m from Kamitakada Nichome Park, Annekaffeekanne offers air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi in Tokyo. Nearby attractions include Toko-ji Temple and Araiyakushi Park. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 20 km away.

SHINOBY’S INN 中野新橋/2 min/3 bedrooms (1 Star)

In the Nakano district of Tokyo, close to Minamidaiicho Park, SHINOBY’S INN 中野新橋/2 min/3 bedrooms offers free WiFi and a washing machine. Nearby attractions include Yayoi Park and Shibuya Kuritsu Honcho Park. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 32 km away.

Holiday House (1 Star) 

Holiday House in Tokyo offers accommodation with free WiFi, 1.6 km from Kamitakada Nichome Park and close to Nakano Hikawa Shrine and Minamidaiicho Park. Nearby attractions include Dairokuten Shrine and Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 32 km away.

Ready to Explore Nakano?pen_spark

Nakano, a vibrant local neighborhood, beckons with its eclectic mix of anime shops, serene temples, and delightful dining spots. Whether you’re an anime enthusiast or simply seeking cultural experiences, Nakano has it all. And don’t stop there—explore other underrated areas across Japan that we’ve cherished and documented! 🌟