10 Things to do in Nakano: Tokyo's Budget District
These are my carefully selected 10 top things to do in Nakano, the secret budget district of Tokyo. I included gems like Koala March pastries, Daily Chico, Namco Arcade, Horumon Yakiniku and where to get a FREE Gyoza dinner to complete an epic afternoon in Tokyo.
- What: Tokyo's budget district
- Why: Cheap food & entertainment. Alternative to electric town Akihabara.
- Where: Nakano Station, Tokyo [Map]
- Tip: Nakano Broadway stores close around dinner time, don't come too late!
- Related: 10% OFF Real-life Mario Kart in Tokyo
- Stay Connected: Japan Pocket Wifi Rental ($5 USD per day)
- Book Now: Tokyo Pub Crawl adventure for just $25 USD
Amidst the bustling tourist hotspots of Tokyo lies a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered: Nakano district. Just a mere 5-minute train ride west from Shinjuku, Nakano emerges as an enchanting alternative, offering a unique blend of traditional and modern Japanese culture. Renowned for its old-school anime, manga, and gaming scene, Nakano stands as a vibrant contrast to the famed Akihabara electronic town district. This cozy, welcoming neighborhood is a must-visit for those looking to experience Tokyo beyond the typical tourist paths.
1. Nakano Broadway
Massive 250 stores indoor complex including super cheap Japanese snack stores, grocery stores, gaming arcades, anime and manga stores and dirt cheap household shops.
Browse through 30 Mandarake Japanese anime, manga and toy stores found all over the Nakano Broadway complex.
3. Daily Chico
At Deirichiko aka Daily Chico enjoy a, 80-flavors, 40-centimeters-tall soft-serve ice cream cone. Only 490 YEN = $4 US dollars.
4. Namco Arcade
The biggest arcade aka game center at the Nakano Broadway with arcades ranging from Dragonball Z, Gundam to Initial D and Wangan 5DX racing games. 100 YEN = $0.90 USD per game!
5. Kuroneko Maid Cafe
Hangout with cute Japanese maids while they sing and dance on stage for the ultimate geek aka Otaku experience in Tokyo. All-you-can-drink @ 1000 YEN = $9 US dollars.
6. Sushi Go-round Restaurant
Dirt cheap sushi conveyor belt with plates starting at only 95 YEN, not even $0.85 USD. Ask for the Nama-Salmon instead of grabbing the plates because the rice may have gotten cold.
7. Koala March Custard Pastry
For dessert head over to Lotteria for their epic custard pastry which sells for only 150 YEN = $1.30 USD.
8. Horumon Yakiniku BBQ
Perhaps the cheapest wagyu yakiniku experience in Nakano. I spent $22 USD on 2x wagyu meals and it even included a beer. Wagyu is expensive Japanese beef due to the fat marbling so it melts on your tongue.
9. Terrie Dog Cafe
A dog shelter for rescue dogs that are in need for some loving. Entrance is FREE but do buy a cheap coffee or tea to support these little cuties.
10. FREE Gyoza
Jump over 1 station to Koenji for a super cheap dinner experience at Gyoza Dokoro Tachibana. Purchase 1 beer for 480 YEN, $4 USD and you'll receive a FREE portion of pan-friend Japanese gyoza. Now that is a good deal!
11. BONUS: FREE Nakano WiFi
Even WiFi in Nakano is FREE, on the pavement around Nakano station you will find the instructions on how to connect.
12. BONUS: Kenchan Restaurant
Super cheap izakaya at Koenji station, next to Nakano Station. Do try their raw horse meat and pig guts stews.
Indoor Haven: Perfect for Rainy Days - Nakano truly shines on a rainy day, thanks to its primary shopping street and the renowned Nakano Broadway complex. Home to over 250 stores, Nakano Broadway is an indoor paradise brimming with entertainment options. From super cheap Japanese snack shops to an array of arcades and comic book stores, there's no shortage of fun to be had here. It's the perfect spot to explore and stay dry, all while immersing yourself in Tokyo's vibrant culture.
Affordable Tokyo: Nakano's Budget-Friendly Charm - Contrary to the notion that Tokyo is expensive, Nakano debunks this myth, especially when compared to areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza. Here, in the company of friends, you can embark on an evening filled with affordable food adventures, discovering the culinary delights that Nakano has to offer.
Mandarake: A Comic Book Haven - Start your Nakano exploration by wandering through the Sun Mall shopping street, leading you to the Nakano Broadway complex. Here, delve into the world of Mandarake, Tokyo's premier pre-owned comic book dealer since 1987. Each Mandarake store boasts a unique theme, with the most extraordinary one located on the 3rd floor, featuring a special shrine dedicated to vintage tin toys.
Basement Wonders: Gourmet Delights and More - The basement of Nakano Broadway complex is a hidden gem in itself. It houses enormous grocery stores offering a wide range of products, from household items to fresh, affordable seafood and delectable sushi pre-made meals. Don't miss the Daily Chico soft-serve ice cream store in the basement, known for its outrageous 8-flavor, 40-centimeter-tall ice cream cone—a perfect treat for a fun selfie moment, and all at an incredibly affordable price.
Evening Exploration: Cozy Alleys and Culinary Gems - As evening falls, the east side of the Sun Mall shopping street comes alive. This area is a haven for sake bars, karaoke shops, izakayas (Japanese drinking spots), and, notably, exquisite wagyu beef and steak houses. Horumon Yakiniku stands out for offering the best value for money, serving mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef.
Support a Cause at Terrie's Dog Cafe - A visit to Terrie's Dog Cafe is not just about enjoying a simple beverage; it's about supporting a noble cause. This café doubles as a shelter for rescue dogs, providing guests with the opportunity to help these adorable animals while enjoying their time.
Unmatched Atmosphere: The Essence of Nakano - What truly sets Nakano apart is its atmosphere—cozy, friendly, and fun, especially on a rainy day. With a plethora of indoor shopping options, Nakano has something for everyone. A short, 5-minute train journey from Shinjuku main station will transport you to this delightful district.
In Summary - Nakano exemplifies an affordable, authentic Tokyo experience, particularly for budget-conscious travelers. Stepping out of the tourist comfort zone and into lesser-known areas like Nakano will undoubtedly enhance your Tokyo adventure. Experience the city's vibrant heart without the tourist crowds and prices, and immerse yourself in the unique charm that Nakano has to offer.
Make your Japan experience even cheaper by using the following discounts:
- Real-life Mario Kart Tokyo with 10% discount, the REAL life Mario Kart.
- Pocket Wifi Rental with 10% discount, always stay Wifi connected in Japan.
- Tokyo Skytree with 5% discount, tallest tower in Japan.
- Roppongi Hills Observatory with 5% discount, best view of Tokyo.
- Tokyo Tower with 5% discount, the classic observatory tower.
- Tokyo Joypolis with 5% discount, coolest arcade in Tokyo.
- Sumo Wrestling with 10% discount, experience the life of Sumo!