Nakano Area Guide

Nowadays, Nakano is synonymous with anime and Tokyo subculture. But that’s not all there is to this unique neighborhood. This affordable area is conveniently located just 4 minutes away from Shinjuku and 17 minutes away from Tokyo by train. If you enjoy a lively nightlife, Nakano might be an area worth checking out!

Details

Highlights
-- Nakano Broadway and the surrounding shopping arcade provide tons of options for shopping
-- Wide variety of restaurants and bars for those who enjoy city nightlife.
-- Under 5 minutes to Shinjuku Station on the Chuo Line for super convenient access to the rest of Tokyo.
-- Home to Tokyo subculture, abundance of anime/manga goods stores.
Trainline(s)
Nakano Station is located on the Tozai subway line and two JR lines:
-- Chuo Line (Rapid)
-- Chuo-Sobu Line (Local)
Access
From Nakano Station on the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) and JR Chuo-Sobu Line (Local):
-- 4-min direct to Shinjuku Station
-- 18-min direct to Tokyo Station
-- 15-min to Shibuya Station (1 transfer)

From Nakano Station on the Tozai subway line:
-- 9-min direct to Waseda Station

Nakano City is located just west of Shinjuku, which means it’s just a stone’s throw away from the excitement of downtown Tokyo. Living in this area offers a ton of convenience without the price of living directly in the middle of the city. It’s easy to catch a train to Shinjuku, from where you can get around the rest of the city quickly. Those who enjoy dining out can take advantage of the wide variety of restaurants and bars that Nakano is famous for.

This shopping arcade that extends from the north exit of Nakano Station will take you to the famous Nakano Broadway. Photo: chinnian

Contents

JR Nakano Station South Exit. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Nakano at a glance

Nakano is an extremely popular location for people visiting Japan. It has a reputation for being a mecca for anime/manga fans (only shadowed by Akihabara). But, that’s just one aspect of what Nakano has to offer.

It’s a great area to be in if you end up living in Tokyo. There is lively nightlife in the neighborhood and great access to supermarkets for groceries/household goods. It also happens to be just minutes from Shinjuku. To be exact, it’s about a 4-minute direct ride from Nakano Station.

Looking towards the North Exit of JR Nakano Station. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Transportation

Nakano Station gives you access to the Chuo Line, Chuo-Sobu Line, and the Tozai Subway Line. I am a big fan of the Chuo Line since it goes through Tokyo, and can take you all the way out to Okutama for a breather away from city life. I’ll save west Tokyo for another article since today’s focus is on the wonderful, somewhat wacky world of Nakano.

Since Nakano Station is only 4 minutes away from Shinjuku, it’s no hassle to get around Tokyo (once you get used to Shinjuku Station that is).

The entrance to the Sun Mall shopping plaza. Following this covered street will bring you to the famous Nakano Broadway building. Photo: Kae Lu

Rent

Despite being so close to Shinjuku, the rent in this area is rather affordable.

  • Studio/1K/1DK ¥82,900 yen/month (About $780 assuming an exchange rate of ¥106/US dollar)
  • 1LDK/2K/2DK ¥138,900 (About $1,310)
  • 2LDK/3K/3DK ¥173,100 (About $1,630)

Of course, these are averages so it is possible to find cheaper listings (most likely those farther away from the station, or in older buildings, etc.) if affordability is your main concern. For a better idea of currently available properties in the area, check out listings here.

For example, rent for shared rooms in guest houses near Nakano Station start at around ¥30,000 per month.

Located just 15 minutes away from Nakano Station by foot, Heiwanomori Park is a spacious area that’s great for getting away from the crowded alleys of Nakano! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Apartments for rent in the Nakano area

To see current listings, please click on the links below.

You can find large supermarkets like this Life grocery store just a few minutes from Nakano Station. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Ease of living

One of the largest draws to living in Nakano is that you’ll be close to Shinjuku and have plenty of access to transportation from there, without having to pay Shinjuku level rent. And there are parks in the area where you can relax a bit if the cramped clusters of stores in and around Nakano Broadway start to feel too suffocating.

Don Quijote (ドンキホーテ) is a discount store with locations all over Japan. You can find practically anything within the crowded aisles of these stores. It’s very convenient to have one close by! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Regarding everyday living, there are a few supermarkets located near the station, making it easy to pick up ingredients for dinner (or a ready-made dinner) on the way home. On the north side of the station, it’s only a one minute walk to a Life supermarket. To the south you’ll find Peacock Store; just be aware that the grocery is in the basement of the building.

The wide variety of restaurants in the area also means you can enjoy practically any cuisine you happen to have a craving for (please tell me if you find a restaurant in Tokyo that does a mean biscuits and gravy though).

Fitness-wise, there are a few gyms located near the station so you should be able to stay in shape without having to go out of the way too much. You will find a TAC (Tokyo Athletic Club) location two minutes from the south exit of Nakano Station by foot. There is another location on the North side (2-minute walk). A little bit further out on the north side (4-minute walk), you can find a Gold’s Gym location.

Close to the station you’ll find Nakano Central Park which is a modern building that is home to a few restaurants and cafes. There is also an open space where public events are often held (farmer’s markets, concerts, beer gardens, etc.). After you’ve been living in a city for a while, you begin to appreciate open spaces that aren’t in the shadow of skyscrapers.

Nakano City Park offers plenty of open space for relaxing; there always seems to be some interesting event happening here, too! Photo: Scott Kouchi

Further away from the station, you’ll find Heiwanomori Park. It’ll take about 15 minutes on foot to reach this park, where you’ll find a playground for children, a pond, and an open grassy field.

Nakano Broadway

The Mandrake store is packed with anime and manga goods. You’ll find a variety of niche stores that have made Nakano Broadway a haven for exploring Tokyo subculture. Photo: Kae Lu

No article about Nakano would be complete without mentioning Nakano Broadway – the large complex that houses stores specializing in vintage anime/manga goods. While this might not be a destination that you will frequent if you end up living in the area, it’s an interesting place to walk through if you have some free time. There’s also a dessert shop in the basement where you can grab an 8-layer ice cream cone!

Nakano has a sprawl of narrow alleys packed with restaurants and bars. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Who is this area ideal for?

If you want to live as close to Shinjuku as possible without actually being subjected to Shinjuku pricing (and crowds), Nakano is a good alternative. This area is a great balance of affordability and convenience, albeit with a lively (if not, rowdy) nightlife. If you’re ok with being even farther away, you might be interested in Koenji or Ogikubo as well.

Lead photo: Scott Kouchi

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