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last update: February 09, 2020
Nakano is one of the 23 special districts of Tokyo, just west of Shinjuku.
It is a huge residential neighborhood comparable in size and inhabitants to a city. If you hear about "Nakano" in tourist terms, it is almost certainly referring to the small area around JR Nakano station, which has become Tokyo's second mecca for otaku, second only to Akihabara.

Things to do and things to see in Nakano

nakano shopping arcade

Covered shopping arcade

Just in front of the north exit of Nakano station there is the entrance to a covered shopping arcade about 250 meters long, a typical Japanese shotengai, full of shops selling anything and everything.
At the end of this shopping arcade is the neighborhood's real attraction, Nakano Broadway.
nakano broadway entrance

Nakano Broadway

The Nakano Broadway is a large 4-storey mall plus the basement: the top three floors are full of shops for otaku, where you can find endless mangas, dvds, videogames, action figures, doujinshi, and various merchandise of anime, characters, idols and everything related to Japanese pop culture.
It is the main place in the city to purchase this kind of stuff, second only to Akihabara.
Which is better, Nakano Broadway or Akihabara?
If you are a big fan of anime and manga and you want to spend a quiet afternoon of shopping, Nakano Broadway is the best place where to go.
Akihabara is obviously much bigger and there is much more to do (strange cafes, sex shops, huge electronics stores, etc.), but it is a very touristy district, always crowded, full of foreigners, and prices are often high. In addition, there are hundreds of shops and they are scattered along many different streets. If you don't know exactly where to go, you will end up going around randomly and trying to be lucky.
Nakano Broadway, on the other hand, is a quiet mall, rarely crowded. Enter and calmly visit all the various shops, one by one, looking for some rare items to take home.
If, on the contrary, you don't have a particular interest in anime and manga, and you are not interested in buying action figures and stuff like that, there is no reason to come to Nakano Broadway. Even if you are not crazy about this kind of thing, we still recommend to have a look at Akihabara; the crazy atmosphere there can be fascinating for anyone, otaku or not. Nakano Broadway is just a shopping mall.
nakano broadway
nakano broadway inside Nakano Broadway

Eating and drinking in Nakano

nakano kuroneko maid cafe

Kuroneko Maid Cafè

A maid cafe located in a small street a few meters from the entrance of Nakano Broadway.
It is a branch of a Osaka maid cafe (official website).
Prices start at 1000¥ for 30 minutes and a soft drink. The staff usually doesn't speak English.
nakano daily chiko

Daily Chiko ice cream shop (デイリーチコ)

This ice cream shops serves soft ice creams and is located in the basement of Nakano Broadway (Floor B1).
It became famous not only because it serves a good ice cream, but also thanks to its Tokudai Soft Cream (特大ソフトクリーム), that is a cone with a tower of 8 flavors stacked on each other! The 8 flavors include banana, milk, coffee, vanilla, matcha, chocolate, grapes, strawberry and ramune (ramune is a drink that tastes like a mixture of lemonade and chewing gum).

Old-fashioned streets

To the right of the shopping arcade and Nakano Broadway there are some narrow streets with a nostalgic atmosphere of the Showa Era. Here you will find numerous restaurants, bars and izakaya, where to eat and drink in the company of cheerful and friendly locals.
nakano old style street

Where to stay in Nakano, recommended hotels

Nakano is located just 5 minutes from Shinjuku, and is a lively, cute neighborhood full of restaurants. It is an excellent area to stay, and in fact it is a popular residential district of Tokyo. Unfortunately, there aren't many hotels.

Nakano Sunplaza hotel

The only hotel in the area. After exiting the north exit of Nakano station, walk a few seconds to the left, the hotel is located in the only tall building nearby.
It is a good hotel. The rooms on the higher floors have excellent views of the city (and the nearby skyscrapers of Shinjuku), as well as the two panoramic restaurants on the top floor.
The only problem are their rates, the hotel is usually quite expensive, but sometimes there are special offers. Check the price on

Yadoya guesthouse

Two guesthouses managed by the same property: the Yadoya Guest House Orange, just 200 meters north of the station (super great location!) and the Yadoya Guest House Green, 500 meters south of the station.
Both guesthouses are typical backpacker accommodation. Basic services and beds in shared dorms for only 2300¥ per night. The Guest House Green also has private rooms for 2 for around 5000¥ per night.

How to get to Nakano

To reach the Nakano Broadway you must first reach Nakano station, served by the JR Chūō-Sōbu line and the Tozai line of the subway.

The station is very close to the central areas of Tokyo. From Shinjuku it takes 5-7 minutes. If you take the rapid service of the Chuo-Sobu line (called Chuo line), Nakano is the first stop.

The station has two exits, one to the north and one to the south. The covered shopping arcade is located opposite the station's north exit, Nakano Broadway's entrance is located at the end of the covered shopping arcade. The area north of the station is also the most lively and full of shops and restaurants. Nothing to report in the southern area.
nakano station north exit the square in front of the North Exit of Nakano station and the entrance to the shopping arcade

Map of Nakano, Tokyo

Guided tours, activities and other things to do

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to do something more than just visiting famous places and monuments, we suggest you to use Rakuten Travel Experiences.

How to use Rakuten Travel Experiences

Rakuten Travel is a very useful website to enrich your travel experience, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan.
Because of the language barrier (and more), in Japan it is very difficult to interact with the locals and to get off the tourist track.
Thanks to Rakuten Travel you can find a lot of interesting and sometimes unique guided tours and activities all over Japan (and not only in Japan), that you would otherwise never be able to enjoy.
But there's more: on Rakuten Travel you can also buy tickets for several famous attractions, events, transportation and other useful services for tourists. Last but not least, you can reserve a table in hundreds of restaurants.

Some examples

Take a look at Rakuten Travel Experiences

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