Nakano City ~Gemstone of Culture in Tokyo~

Have you ever visited Nakano City in Tokyo? If you haven’t, you absolutely should as there is so much to see and do here! You will read about some of those in the following articles with six topics which highlight some of the best Nakano City has to offer. These range from the most original and unique shopping center in the world (literally), to an original Ramen creation accidentally created right here in Nakano, as well as a few of the most interesting sites in Tokyo, and even all of Japan for that matter, which need to find their way onto the most interesting places to visit in Tokyo lists. Come to Nakano tomorrow, or gee whiz, today if possible. Please enjoy your time in this amazing place, Nakano City.

#1: Tsukemen. Dipping ramen.

#1: Tsukemen. Cold dipping ramen.

「Shanghan Menkan」

Back in about 1955 in Nakano, when a Ramen shop staff was given noodles for his employee lunch, he thought to dip them in warm sauce. An interested customer recommended putting it on the menu and thus the boom began. So just the way the sandwich was discovered by accident, so was Tsukemen, Japanese Dipping Ramen. This unique style of Ramen, with Japanese style thick noodles on one plate and the warm dipping sauce in a bowl to the side, is eaten by dipping each bite with your chopsticks. It is important to dip each bite of noodles one by one, separately, and not to put the noodles into the sauce in a large amount or it would defeat the purpose of its very original eating style. After finishing you can add hot water to the sauce to drink if you like. Although this style of Ramen is popular all over Japan today with countless styles of tastes and noodle textures, it is important to note that the method of eating it is the same everywhere. Also, it is widely unknown to most but Tsukemen originated right here in Nakano where it is truly the best place to sample some of the best Tsukemen as the various shops clustered here are in fierce competition with each other to serve the very best Tsukemen possible.

#2: Nakano Shiki No Machi. Multi-Use location with everything from open air space to stare-of-the-art office and university campuses.

Nakano Shiki No Machi was formerly the location of the National Police Academy of Nakano 4 Chome (Area 4). Now completely transformed, when I visited this recently renovated area of Nakano, with its unique combination of offices, university campuses, hospital, and other public facilities, I was amazed at the very calm atmosphere here. Having a great deal of open green space definitely created this easy going feeling. Shiki No Mori Koen, the big park in the central area of this mixed-use redevelopment campus-style area, is one of the biggest evacuation sites in Nakano City. It is a very popular spot for having lunch, taking a walk, jogging, doing yoga, or simply just relaxing in the calm idyllic setting it provides.

I was reminded of some place I might experience in another country like Holland or Sweden, and yet I was only just minutes away from bustling Nakano station. It certainly has a differen’t type of feeling than other areas like it throughout the Tokyo Metropolitan area and in a very positive way. I recommend paying this location a visit to see for yourself. Believe me, you will be happy you did.

#3: Nakano Sun Plaza. A local Nakano modern classic not to be missed.

Nakano Sun Plaza is dear to the hearts of the local citizens of Nakano City and visitors as well, just like its counterpart Nakano Broadway just across the street. On my recent visit here, noticing the slightly nostalgic modernist flavor, I was charmed and bewildered at all the various activities going on here. A good friend of mine was married in the chapel located here and he has spoken fondly of it several times, but now after my first visit, I truly understand its appeal.

It is a modern building with amazingly wonderful facilities all under one roof such as a concert hall, a hotel, a bowling alley, a swimming pool, and so forth all fused with a kind of feeling akin to a precious community center. Something is always happening at Nakano Sun Plaza and I surmise there is rarely if ever a dull moment here. Please venture inside and have a look for yourself! You will be pleasantly surprised.

#4: Nakano Broadway Shopping District.Nothing in the world can compare to the shopping experience you can find in this nearly indescribable place.

Have you ever fantasized about visiting the most eclectic, unusual, and original shopping center in the world? Look no further than just beyond the north exit of Tokyo’s Nakano station where you will find the Nakano Broadway Shopping District. Opened in 1966 it was at that time the largest shopping center in the East. Today it is famous for catering to the Otaku collector crowd with its figurine, comic/anime, doll, weaponry, cosplay and various other geek fandom fare shops. However, scratch a little deeper beneath this already seemingly multitudinous shopping complex surface and you will discover so much more. In fact, thinking of this place as only a mecca for Otaku alone would be limiting at best. Let me explain further. How many shopping centers in the world do you know of where you can have your hair permed or cut, buy a brand new drone, eat 15 plus flavors of delicious soft ice cream, buy an unusual small collectible trinket for ten yen or a Swiss watch for 5 million yen? You can do all of these things at Nakano Broadway and much much more. I come here very often and each time I do, the experience is so utterly unique it feels like my first visit every single time. Boundless discoveries are awaiting you here at Nakano Broadway.

#5: Tetsugakudo Park. Also know as Philosopher’s Park. A designated scenic location of Tokyo.

This beautiful park designated as a Special Scenic Location in Tokyo has also been given the nickname, “Philosophers Park”. I was astounded at the beauty and original landscape design of the this amazing location which I truly believe should be on the “To Do and See ” list of all who visit Tokyo.

Designed and inaugurated by the philosopher Dr. Enryo Inoue in 1904, he proclaimed this special park as a place for spiritual training. It has a certain feeling of calmness and the various uniquely designed structures and objects in this park, all with their own individual philosophical meaning make this park something like a very fun treasure hunt. Also, with all of its hilly terrain, it is a great place to get some good exercise while contemplating the deep philosophical thoughts this magnificent park inspires in each of us.

About a 15 minute walk from the Seibu Shinjuku Line’s Arai Yakushi – Mae station only 3 stops from Takadanobaba, this will be one of the most satisfying sightseeing side trips you will experience throughout Tokyo, located right here in Nakano City.

#6: Nogata Water Tower. A classic example of structural design from very early Showa Period  we rarely have the chance to experience in Tokyo.

Located just a short walk from the Tetsugakudo Philosopher’s Park, it is great fun to search for and find this historical water tower.  Approaching the Nogata Water Tower and finally seeing it pop into sight when you least expect it  gives quite a thrill when you notice its massive scale and well preserved condition.

Squeezed into a pretty tight area makes it a fun challenge to move around the tower to capture the perfect photo.

Built in 1929 and kept in use until 1966 to supply the surrounding neighborhoods with their water, this 33.5 meter high structure with its 18 meter base diameter was actually slated to be torn down at one point but luckily has been kept in great condition for all to enjoy. This is truly a captivating structure and worth the venture to see such an intact work of civic design from its era.

All in all, you can truly see the treasure trove that Nakano City in fact is. Being a foreigner and permanent resident of Tokyo for many years, I can honestly say visiting Nakano City will give you some of the richest memorable experiences you will ever have in urban Tokyo as well as Japan as a whole. This is truly brought to you from a very kind inside source honestly wishing you the most enjoyable time in Nakano City.

James Sumners
 comes from Seattle in the United States. He came to Japan originally as he was attracted to the food, culture, art, antiques, and lifestyle.