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What to do in Nakano: A Pop Culture and Shopping Hub in Tokyo

What to do in Nakano: A Pop Culture and Shopping Hub in Tokyo

Just five minutes from Shinjuku on the JR Chuo Line, Nakano is a popular neighbourhood that’s packed with otaku-culture delights and a maze of bars, restaurants, cafes and izakayas around the station. When it comes to anime, it’s usually Akihabara that springs to mind, but Nakano is another of Tokyo’s major subculture hubs. With a 13-level commercial complex bursting with 350 stores, even if you don’t like anime it’s fun to explore this treasure trove of quirky, jumbled shops selling everything from secondhand manga to retro toys, games, cosplay, models, vintage clothes and even creepy antique dolls. Read on to discover all the best things to do in Nakano.

Shopping Nakano Broadway Tokyo Japan


Get lost in manga heaven in Nakano Broadway

Sure, Akihabara might be the most famous, but Nakano Broadway is also an otaku-heaven. Located at the end of the Nakano Sun Mall shotengai, this seemingly windowless maze of stores is one of the main reasons tourists visit Nakano. There’s too many shops to cover here, and exploring it for yourself is all part of the fun, but there’s a great floor guide and lowdown on some of the best spots here. Once you enter the building, you’ll notice the ground floor and basement have pretty normal stores (supermarkets, drug stores, shoe shops etc); you need to head upstairs for all the cool stuff.

Koala March Yaki Nakano Sun Mall Lotteria


Try a cute Koala’s March Yaki at the Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai

At only ¥150 (plus tax) there really is no excuse not to buy this adorable koala-shaped taiyaki (Japanese waffle-like cake — usually in the shape of a fish). Plus, if you’re heading to Nakano Broadway you’ll pass this store anyway as you head down the Sun Mall from the station. You can choose the filling: either the classic red bean paste (azuki / あずき) or custard cream (kasutado / カスタード), but there’s also special, seasonal flavours like strawberry or pumpkin depending on the time of year. Each koala comes with its own little baseball cap, making it look so cute you won’t want to eat it.

Koala taiyaki review
5-59-8 Nakano, Nakano-ku (It’s around this address, but the easiest way to find it from the station is to just walk down the mall street and about halfway down it you’ll see the window for the koala taiyaki on your right, next to the Lotteria restaurant).

Nakano Central Park at Night Tokyo


Dine alfresco at Nakano Central Park

This park is just a five-minute walk from the North Exit of Nakano Station and has a range of restaurants and cafes that offer outdoor seating. From McDonald’s to Good Morning Cafe, where you can grill your own food with a BBQ under the shade of the trees, there’s something to suit every budget and taste. In the spring days and summer evenings the park is a popular picnic spot, with people relaxing under the lanterns in the trees or on the grass. There’s a couple of combinis besides the park if you want to grab a few snacks and drinks and join in.

Coffee at Takashi Murakami Cafe Bar Zingaro


Grab a flower coffee at Takashi Murakami’s cafe

Takashi Murakami is one of the most famous Japanese contemporary artists of today and founder of the “superflat” movement. His signature colorful flowers and characters are instantly recognisable and he recently worked with Billie Eillish to create the music video for “you should see me in a crown.” Nakano is home to his cafe, Bar Zingaro, where you can relax around his art and enjoy drinks and food decorated with his smiling flower designs. If you want to pick up a souvenir, head to the 4th floor of Nakano Broadway to the merch shop, Tonari no Zingaro, where you can buy your own fluffy flower cushions, T-shirts and more.

Bar Zingaro Website
Nakano Broadway 2FL
5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku

8 scoop ice cream Nakano Broadway


Challenge yourself to an 8-scoop mega ice cream

Head into the basement of Nakano Broadway and visit the ice cream parlour Daily Chiko, where you can treat yourself to a 40cm tall, 8-scoop masterpiece of a dessert challenge that is the store’s extra-large soft-serve ice cream. It has eight different flavours, including seasonal ones and it’s only ¥600.

Daily Chiko website
5-52-15 Nakano Broadway B1F, Nakano-ku

80s bar juke Nakano Tokyo


Get a blast from the past at Juke 80s

This basement jukebox bar has no entrance fee, cheap drinks and huge, hefty tomes with thousands of 80s classics for you to sift through and request. Simply write it down on the tab and hand it to the friendly bar staff and they’ll add it to the queue. It’s totally free and the best bit is they play the music videos on the TV screen so you can really get a feel for those 80s fashion vibes. There’s also plenty of 90s tunes sneaked in there too and it’s fun to watch the customers react to each song as it starts playing. An all-round great way to spend an evening.

Juke 80s website
Weekdays: 6pm-3am
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays: 4pm-3am
5-56-15 Kanai Building B1, Nakano-ku

 Maguro Mart tuna menu options

Eat amazing tuna at Maguro Mart

It’s recommended that you make a reservation in advance for Maguro Mart as this place is one of the most popular restaurants in Nakano — and for good reason. The chefs serve fresh maguro (tuna) in every way you could ever want, from raw sashimi to melt-in-your-mouth-delicious grilled tuna steak. If you’re in a group, try the whole maguro sashimi and dig in with a spoon. It’s just a few minutes walk away from the station, is good value and has a modern design and great atmosphere.

Meguro Mart
11:30am - 8pm
5-50-3 Nakano, Nakano-ku