Location: 35°42’27.12″ N 139°39’49.53″ E
Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
Free WiFi? Yes.
Worth it? A must-see.
There are actually 2 main areas – and 3 stations in Nakano – the first area is closer to Shinjuku on the east and has a Metro stop at Nakano-sakuae on the Maronuchi Line (M06) at 35°41’49.45″ N 139°40’55.78″ E
Halfway between this stop and the main Nakano Station to the northwest is Shin-Nakano station at 35°41’50.97″ N 139°40’08.17″ E. It’s mainly just a Metro substation so you don’t have to walk the 1.6 miles between the other 2 stations.
If you’re up for a hike of about 1 mile, get off at Nakano-sakuae. There’s a few interesting things to do here. There’s a huge Life Supermarket which is quite good, and you can also stroll south on the main road for a few miles for general sightseeing. On this street there is also Tokyo Polytechnical University. There’s also a huge Asahi Brewery distribution warehouse in this area. There’s a temple along this route. In fact, from this vantage point, you’re still close enough to Shinjuku that you can see the Tokyo Metropolitan Gov’t building only a few miles to the east. You can take in a few shops + other interesting sights as you come up to street level out of Nakano-sakuae station. As a footnote, if you head right (east) in the photo below, you’ll arrive @ downtown Shinjuku.
Once you’re done around the station, head west along Rt. 317 (Ome Hwy.) for about .85 miles (left in the photo above). When you come to the Super-Seven pachinko parlor, head north along Nakno Dori St. There are lots of shops + restaurants along Ome Hwy. .6 miles north on Ome Hwy. is the main JR Nakano Station. This is where the Tozai Line terminus is. When you’re done for the day you can take the JR line back to Shinjuku, or any other point from Shinjuku on JR or Metro.
As a footnote – just 2 + 3 stops away on the Tozai Line are Waseda University, and one stop beyond that, Kagurazaka – another charming small town well worth a quick stop. Both these areas are definitely worth a day trip.
The Tozai Line is invaluable because it can shoot you from east of Shinjuku in Nakano, to several interesting stops: Waseda, Kagurazaka, Iidabashi, and beyond that Otemachi + Nihonbashi right near the central finance district on the east side of Tokyo – all in just minutes, all bypassing the crowds + mess @ JR Shinjuku Station. Note also Metro Otemachi is an interchange point for several other important Metro lines – namely Hanzomon which can shoot you right out to Sky Tree (Oshiage), and Maronuchi which can shoot you back to Shibuya fast, or to Ikebukuro. One stop beyond that at Nihombashi will connect you to the Ginza Line, and Yurakucho which drops you right into Ginza. You can even get to Tokyo Dome from Iidabashi station just one stop away on Maronuchi – at Korakuen Station. For these reasons, Tozai is often the fastest way to get around Tokyo west to east.
Nakano Station is in the main downtown area and is near Nakano Broadway – arguably the town’s most popular street. Nakano Station has both a JR line stop as well as a Metro Subway stop (T01). In fact, it’s the eastern terminus for the Metro Tozai line shown here:
This map image shows JR Nakano Station on the right, center, Nakano Broadway in the right upper corner, and Nakano Central Park in the upper left. All within a few blocks of each other. Nakano Sunplaza is the square building in upper center right above the station. The pachinko parlor on Ome Hwy. is to the south on Rt. 420. Nakano-sakuae Station is to the east (right).
Another view of Nakano – JR Nakano Sta. is on the right. Nakano Central Park is in the lower center behind the tall bldg. which is Nakano City Hall. Sunplaza is the sloped bldg. in the upper right. Nakano Broadway is just above that in the upper right corner. There is also a massive bike parking lot just to the northeast of the park. The street that runs southeast to northeast above Sunplaza has a lot of interesting cafes and shops – including a Don Quijote. j.s. Pancake Café is just to the northeast of the park – at the lower corner of the smaller office bldg. next to City Hall. If you cut southeast down the street by Sunplaza and then east a few blocks down onto Nakano-Dori Ave., you’ll come to Nakano-Sakue – another part of Nakano a few miles down – there is also a Metro subway station there. From the JR station you can shoot into Shinjuku in just a few minutes – or take the Tozai Metro Line from there as well. Nakano (T01) is the western terminus for the Tozai Line .
Turn right (north) at the Super Seven pachinko parlor to get to the JR station.
The main attraction at the JR station is on the northeast side and is called Nakano Broadway. It’s a large covered arcade with side streets, as well as an underground mall. It’s known as Little Akihabara for all its shopping + electronics shops. The entrance to Broadway is just on the northeast side of the JR station and is shown in the Tokyo Explorer video at the end of this article.
Free Nakano City WiFi
The City of Nakano provides free WiFi near most major infrastructure in the city. They have a site you can use on your phone for access:
Nakano Broadway – A Covered Shopping Arcade
Just to the north exit of Nakano Station is Nakano Broadway – a long large covered shopping arcade which heads north for almost a mile. There’s every conceivable kind of shop here and it’s well worth a look. If you want to see it and Sunplaza (shown next), you can stroll through the arcade, then head left at the end, and walk back south towards Sunplaza in sort of a loop. Nakano Central Park (aka Nakano Shikinomori Park) is then just to the west of Sunplaza (see video below).
Nakano Sunplaza is an old hotel restaurant complex built in the 1970’s – it’s very popular for weddings + receptions. The upper floors have some good upscale restaurants. It looks like something out of a 1970’s sci-fi movie such as Logan’s Run. There are also a variety of shops just to the east along Nakano Dori.
Nakano Central Park
The modern jewel of the town is Nakano Central Park to the northwest of the station. There’s a huge office complex here, and just behind it a large park + several shops including lots of cafes + dining areas. Well worth a stop. It’s just a few blocks west of Sunplaza. There is also a giant bike locker just across the street. On weekends in spring and fall, the park is mobbed with young families with kids. So be aware.
Nakano Central Park in the fall.
The hidden treat in Central Park is a giant pancake shop called j.s. Pancake Cafe. It’s on the southeast corner of the park in the corner of an office building. This place is huge + has a massive selection of insane pancake delights. Plates run $10-$14 USD. $10 bucks gets you a giant stack of pancakes, with ice cream + mixed fruit.
j.s. Pancake Cafe in Nakano Central Park
There are a variety of other parks in the area, as well as several onsen.
Well that’s it. Enjoy your trip to Nakano – you can easily see everything in 1 day.
Walking north towards Sunplaza.
Looking back east over the square north of the station. Straight ahead is the hidden east side street.
Hidden east side street is to the right. This is just to the right of the arcade on the north side of the station – turn right here and discover some really awesome backstreets with cool shops such as this Kale Juice Shop: